Vulnerable Groups

Half of the Central American population is living in rural areas where the highest indexes of poverty are concentrated:
67% of the rural population is poor and 43% lives in extreme poverty versus 46% and 20% respectively for urban areas (CEPAL, 2003). Amongst the rural poor, there are specific groups that face bigger barriers to overcome their (extremely) poor living conditions like: indigenous groups, migrants, single mothers, subsistence farmers, unemployed, disabled people, geographically isolated and extreme age groups (youth and the elderly).

The vulnerability of people belong to these groups consists of a state of high susceptibility to certain risks and uncertainties (for example, in the case of an economic crisis or natural disaster). The main problem is their unequal access to assets (financial, human, social, physical and natural resources and services) to protect or defend themselves against those risks or to cope with their negative consequences. Moreover, they face difficulties in changing their state of vulnerability due to a lack of capacities and opportunities to participate in decision-making processes as a consequence of social exclusion. This means that they are - totally or partially - isolated from the social, economic, political and cultural systems that determine their social integration into society.

Vulnerability is a dynamic concept that can lead people into a situation of (extreme) poverty, but it also appears as a component of poverty: the poorer someone is, the more vulnerable he or she is to factors that can increase or perpetuate their level of poverty. The objective of this study was to realize a systematic analysis of the concepts of vulnerability and exclusion; to identify the groups in Central America that are most affected by it and to elaborate strategies to deal with it. The final goal was that governments, international organisations and other actors in development improve their policies, programs and other strategies by focusing more effectively on socio-economic vulnerable groups and respecting their cultural values.


A Company (Marije van Lidth de Jeude) for RUTA and IFAD

Location: Central America

Status: Completed

Year: 2005