Indeed, the past years were difficult times for countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The
tsunami devastations in Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, landslides and typhoons in
the Philippines, HIV/AIDS pandemic in India, SARS and Avian Flu scare in China
and other parts of the region, terrorist attacks, internal war and other religious and
political conflicts, life-threatening famines, droughts and floods, and thousands of cases
of abuse, violence, exploitation and other forms of social inequities - all these have led to
adversities that affected people’s lives in the region.
Responses to such difficult circumstances were noted to be two-pronged. While many
communities were able to cope and bounce back to normalcy, others experienced setbacks
in their economy, political governance and social life. Some people in the affected
communities learned to survive during these periods of chaos and instabilities, but others
remained in poor conditions and distressed psychological states. How do people deal with
difficult events in their lives? What makes communities survive more than the others?
How can capacities to cope and survive be strengthened? Can resilience be developed,
nurtured or ingrained?
'Resilience' is today the buzzword for many development endeavours and individual
support systems. “Resilience” refers to one’s capacity to survive, adapt and bounce back
from crisis or difficult circumstances. Socio-psychological models have increasingly
shifted from issues related to risk and vulnerability to individual protection, coping and
resilience. Development work has progressively emphasized on strengths, skills, social
capital and other resources available within communities, away from simply assessing
needs, hazards and liabilities. This emphasis on identifying and building strengths
represents a paradigm shift in approaching risk in individuals, communities and
Understanding how individuals and communities successfully manage the effects of