This study analyses the role of social capital in community resilience.  The paper bases its analysis on recent literature and on case studies from nine communities in Nepal, China and Myanmar. The research included a household survey with 888 respondents, and workshops with communities and Red Cross branches.


  • Cognitive aspects of social capital such as social embeddedness, trust and propensity to civic engagement appear to be the critical foundation on which overall resilience depends. The case of Bingalar, a Myanmar village severely affected by the 2008 Cyclone Nargis, where villagers supported each other through the first days of hardship and recovery, illustrates how social capital can make a tremendous difference to resilience and overall outcomes.
  • Social capital is one of the key driving forces behind community resilience – the others being economic, human, physical and natural capital.
  • The study finds that existing IFRC tools can be used to assess structural aspects of social capital if they are properly understood and used. For instance, the baseline survey tool (part of the VCA toolkit) needs to be complemented with a component that can capture cognitive social capital.

Usage: Learning from experience

Audiences: Technical staff


Document Data

Author: IFRC
Publication date:
Status: Final Type: PDF Size (MB): Size: 0.11
Country: Regional
Resource type: Research

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