Risk-informed development analysis options

A tool for prioritising risks

This resource gives an overview of seven different types of risk-informed development analysis that can be undertaken.

These are:

  1. Development impact assessment
  2. Overlay analysis
  3. Land suitability analysis
  4. Degradation and fragmentation of resilience infrastructure 
  5. Radius of influence technique
  6. Carrying capacity
  7. Indicators of high emissions and unsustainable practices 

These types of analyses can be used during stage four of the risk-informed development planning process. 

A development impact assessment covers environmental, social and economic impacts.

It specifically examines the impacts of development activities (e.g. mega projects and land transformation via urbanisation). 

Dam construction, mining, blasting, high-ways and transport networks are examples of mega projects that can cause considerable – and many times – irreversible environmental, social and economic damage to communities and landscapes. 

Undertake an environmental, social and economic impact assessment for the local area with respect to all possible development interventions including mega projects. 

In cases where project-specific impact assessment studies are already available, civil society organisations can support the community members in sharing the findings from these studies with the objective of examining the relevance of those studies to the community.

Conduct an exercise to make the community members aware of the overall impact of development, risk drivers and risk factors associated with various physical and non-physical hazards.

Collaborate with local experts (e.g. EIA and SIA experts and environmental consultants) and development authorities (e.g. local government bodies).

An overlay analysis can help identify areas with multiple hazards. Spatial relationships can be mapped through the process of spatial overlay. Spatial overlay is accomplished by joining and viewing together separate spatial data sets (or maps) that share all or part of the same area. 

Individual hazard maps of the neighbourhood, which are printed on transparent sheets, can be placed one over the other to delineate and identify areas with multiple hazards (i.e. overlapping hazards). The graphic overlay method is the most viable overlay analysis to work together with community members. 

This type of spatial analysis can help identify lands that are most appropriate/suitable for various types of activities. 

It can be derived by deducing vulnerable lands, hazard-prone areas and environmentally important or ecologically sensitive landscapes from the larger map of the area. 

Another example of suitability analysis is land suitability for agriculture, which has to be derived based on a soil fertility spatial map showing water availability for irrigation. 

The key here is to identify all important physical and non-physical factors that determine the suitability of land for any particular activity.

This covers natural systems like drainage systems, wetland systems and green networks.

The primary resilience infrastructure are the natural landscape systems, as they have the intrinsic ability to adapt because they have self-regulating mechanisms embedded in their systems. 

Mangroves are an important resilience infrastructure against coastal inundations and tidal forces. Natural drainage paths and networks are critical in preventing flooding and water-logging as they are a result of the terrain. 

Forests and wetlands are natural sinks and all of them provide ecosystem services that are critical for resilience. For these systems to function well, structural integrity is fundamental. Fragmentation of these networks (via construction activities, road ways, etc.) harms the performance of these natural resilience systems. 

The most effective method is to carry out a field exercise with community members to physically identify them using the community’s local and historic knowledge of how these landscapes and natural systems have transformed over time. 

The above findings can be documented in maps. If basic maps are available, a simple overlay analysis between a map of buildings and development activities, and a historical map of natural landscape networks and natural waterways (bodies and drainage), can help identify points and areas where the natural systems have been destroyed or fragmented.

Pollution is another major cause of infrastructure degradation and the poor resilience of infrastructure. Areas of degradation from pollution and other factors can be assessed using radius of influence method. 

This can be done by locating the sources of pollution with respect to the resilience infrastructure systems/networks (natural landscapes). If pollution sources are in close proximity to these natural resilience systems, then they are prone to degradation. Both of these assessments can be conducted as a group exercise involving community members.

Carrying capacity can be calculated for a given area with respect to an available resource against the demand for it. If the availability of the natural resource within a given area is lower than the demand/requirement then it increases dependency on resources outside the area and thus beyond the natural carrying capacity of the area. 

This can help make informed policy decisions on matters like resource provisioning or even utilising under-utilised local resources.

Dependency on private vehicles due to inaccessible public transport, poor walkability, high dependency on non-local products, cultivation of exotic species, water-intensive agriculture and disappearing local biodiversity are evident indicators of unsustainable practices. 

These indicators can be used to examine sustainable and unsustainable practices at household level, community level or city level. 

Making communities aware of these indicators is critical to ensure accountability to all concerned stakeholders. 

It is useful for communities to brainstorm and make a list of these indicators for themselves based on their lifestyle and local conditions. This will help them shift and evolve their own innovative and sustainable practices that are most suited to them.

This resource is taken from our Risk-Informed Development Guide, which provides a comprehensive stage-by-stage approach to working with communities most at risk.

View guide

Project partners

Our Risk-Informed Development Guide was produced as part of our Local Leadership for Global Impact project. The project and all related content was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). All content is the sole responsibility of GNDR and does not necessarily reflect the views of the BMZ.

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Our Local Leadership for Global Impact project is implemented in partnership with Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.

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