Venezuela: Community Baseline for Monitoring Social Vulnerability, 2003

After economic stagnation in the 1980s and decline in the 1990s, Venezuela entered a period of crisis that came to a head during a 63-day general strike at the beginning of 2003 that caused billions in damage to the economy and especially the petroleum sector, Venezuela’s principal source of foreign exchange. The United Nations agencies in Venezuela, desiring to obtain their own assessment of the situation of the most vulnerable sectors of the population after the strike, contracted CIETinternational to carry out this assessment whose objectives were to: a) establish a baseline for monitoring social vulnerability in Venezuela, b) achieve a better understanding of people’s perception of their own vulnerability and how they deal with it and c) identify and compare alternatives for reducing social vulnerability.

The study took place in June and July 2003 in 58 sentinel communities in 15 randomly selected municipalities distributed across 14 of the country’s “federal entities” (States).Interviews covering 34,500 persons were conducted in some 6,700 households and local leaders in each community provided contextual data. Some 1,600 children under 3 years of age were measured for height, weight and mid-upper arm circumference. In addition to economic vulnerability, topics included food security, environmental sanitation, infant health and nutrition, birth registration, school enrolment and attendance among children and youth, participation of women and senior citizens in household income generation, participation in community activities and other aspects of social capital, and household strategies for dealing with the situation. Three “showcase municipalities” where United Nations agencies are particularly active were chosen for special focus and follow-up, as examples of evidence-based planning at the local level.

Although the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was the contracting party and the main counterpart, several agencies of the UN system in Venezuela contributed funds and/or in kind to the project and sent representatives to the inter-agency technical committee that supervised all phases of CIET’s work. Collaborating agencies were the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Both a summary and the full report, in Spanish, are available from the Library.