Original Research

Livelihood resilience and adaptive capacity: A critical conceptual review

Admire M. Nyamwanza
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 4, No 1 | a55 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v4i1.55 | © 2012 Admire M. Nyamwanza | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 June 2012 | Published: 16 October 2012

About the author(s)

Admire M. Nyamwanza, Institute for Development, Policy and Management, University of Manchester, United Kingdom


The concepts resilience and adaptive capacity have gained currency in ecology, climate change, disaster risk reduction and related development discourse; yet there has been almost an absence of clarity in the understanding, substance, definition as well as applicability of these concepts in livelihoods theory and practice – where they can potentially contribute far-reaching insights vis-à-vis long-term response to livelihoods adversity in different communities. Drawing upon literature from several disciplines utilising these concepts, this article traces the roots and evolvement of the resilience and adaptive capacity concepts and suggests indicators and pillar processes towards their integration into livelihoods thinking. This article therefore mainly contributes towards the conceptualisation and understanding of a focused ‘resilience and adaptive capacity’ construct in livelihoods analysis.


Resilience; Adaptive capacity; Livelihoods; Sustainability; Stresses


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