Amjad Nazeer Poor’s Risk Response and Risk Studies
I: SIGNIFICANCE OF RISK-ISSUE IN POVERTY STUDIES
Risk is a major or minor hazardous event, likely to happen without any reliable prediction(Lipton and Sinha 1999: 5; Anderson 1999: 3). It is ambient in the poor rural economiesthat not only decreases the existing capacities of the poor rather factors in regeneratingpoverty (Fafchamps 1999: 4) and pushing the poor down to further risks. All risks are
the life systems of the poor. They push the non-poor in topoverty and intensify poverty of the poor. Risks inequalize
the inter- and intra-household
distribution of resources and when occur are difficult to
(Lipton and Sinha 1999:4-5).The poor are highly susceptible to risks due to lack of: assets, productive resources,stocks and stores, exchange entitlements and claims, savings or access to services andcredit. Their social support mechanism, owing to their less reciprocal capability, happensto be poor and sources of information remain limited, weakening their capacity to absorbshocks
.In acute circumstances, the only asset, they have, is their body to invest in thelabour market (Chambers, 1983: 113-117; Fafchamps 1999: 6; Swift 1989: 9-11). Alongwith affecting their material well being, risk puts them under psychological stress anddiminishes their utility and ritual pleasures, which may result in social exclusion(Fafchamps 1999: 3-4) and indignity.Risks can be of large- i.e
or small- i.e
scale with variantfrequency and force. Aggregate risks affect the whole community simultaneously likefamine, drought, cyclone, floods, epidemic, pests/rats-attack, market fluctuation, cropfailure and warfare etc. While idiosyncratic risks affect a particular household or individual like illness, death, disability, accident, theft or any other physical or economicloss. The span of risks could be longer or shorter but the repercussions of risks keepunfolding long after they occur. Some of them are recurrent, others are once off, and soare the people’s responses (Davies, 1996; Fafchamps 1999).
The same argument is debated for diversification (in response to risk). Some forms of diversificationshave equalizing impact but most of them favour the well off (Adams and He 1995 as cited in Ellis 1998).
If the risk is sudden and intensive, it may be termed as shock. Moreover Fafchamps is using this wordinterchangeably with risk (see Fafchamps, 1999, Rural poverty, risk and development).