Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 151–160 | Cite as

Application of fuzzy models to assess susceptibility to droughts from a socio-economic perspective

  • Lilibeth A. Acosta-MichlikEmail author
  • K. S. Kavi Kumar
  • Richard J. T. Klein
  • Sabine Campe
Original Article


By combining the concepts of environmental stress, state susceptibility and environmental crisis, “Security Diagram” (SD) provides a quantitative approach to assessing environmental change and human security. The SD is a tool that clearly presents in a diagram the security situation of a population or region affected by a particular environmental crisis. Its underlying concept emphasises that the higher the level of environmental stress and socio-economic susceptibility, the higher the probability of the occurrence of crisis. Focusing on drought, this study analyses the susceptibility of case study regions in India, Portugal, and Russia from a socio-economic perspective. A conceptual framework of socio-economic susceptibility is developed based on the economic development theories of modernisation and dependency. Fuzzy set theory is used to generate susceptibility indices from a range of national and sub-national indicators, including financial resources, agricultural dependency and infrastructure development (for economic susceptibility), and health condition, educational attainment and gender inequality (for social susceptibility). Results indicate that socio-economic susceptibility over the period 1980–1995 was highest in India, followed by Russia and (since 1989) lowest in Portugal. Globalisation is likely to contribute to changes in the level of socio-economic susceptibility over time. Moreover, specific social and economic structures unique in each country (e.g., the role of women in society in India, the socialist legacy in Russia) may explain differences in susceptibility between the case study regions.


Adaptive capacity Economic development Environmental stress Fuzzy logic Globalisation Susceptibility Vulnerability 



The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of their colleagues in the Security Diagrams Project, which was part of their work at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany. The DEKLIM Program of the German Ministry of Education and Research provided funding for this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lilibeth A. Acosta-Michlik
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • K. S. Kavi Kumar
    • 4
  • Richard J. T. Klein
    • 5
  • Sabine Campe
    • 6
  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and ManagementUniversity of the PhilippinesLos Baños, LagunaPhilippines
  2. 2.Centre for the study of Environmental Change and SustainabilityUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Unité d’économie ruraleUniversité Catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  4. 4.Madras School of EconomicsChennaiIndia
  5. 5.Stockholm Environment InstituteStockholmSweden
  6. 6.Sonderforschungsbereich 700Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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