New Center at Abt Associates to Focus on Risk and Resilience

Initiative will identify and leverage common strategies to address global vulnerability problems

Jul 30, 2012, 19:15 ET from Abt Associates

BETHESDA, Md., July 30, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- How can vulnerable populations protect themselves against risk and mitigate the effects of financial, environmental or health-related events that could negatively affect them? That question is at the heart of Abt Associate's new Risk and Resilience Methods Center, which will work to develop strategies that help people protect themselves against risks—such as illness and financial loss — and improve their ability to respond to these events.

"Preparing people and communities to withstand emergencies is more effective than providing relief once the emergency is over," said Thierry van Bastelaer, principal associate in Abt's International Health division and co-director of the Risk and Resilience Methods Center. "In our work, we are constantly struck by the boundless talents that vulnerable populations bring to managing risk, day after day. They clearly have the skills to manage risk—what they lack are the tools to do it better. While our work serves more than 70 countries and addresses a wide variety of conditions, we are unified by our goal of providing these tools to vulnerable populations."

Risk reduction is focused on reducing the probability of an adverse event, such as losing one's job, which can be partially mitigated by on-the-job training. Resilience deals with people's capacity to reduce the impact associated with an adverse event, such as loss of income from joblessness, which can be partially alleviated by savings and unemployment insurance. 

These concepts are embodied in fields as varied as climate change mitigation, preventative medical treatment, career pathways, homelessness prevention, protection against harmful chemical products, disaster prevention, health insurance, and household asset-building.

"Over the last 45 years, Abt has developed risk and resilience tools in the United States and internationally that span implementation and research, from helping farmers in Bolivia improve their crop yields to designing programs aimed at keeping families from becoming homeless," said Carlos Martin, senior associate in Abt's Social and Economic Policy division and co-director of the Center.

Abt currently implements more than 150 projects that are reducing risk and strengthening peoples' resilience to risk. For example, Abt-led projects are helping HIV-positive men who are unaware of their condition get treatment, making injectable contraceptives more available to young married women in India, and developing private sector health insurance targeted at low-income families.

"This new Center will draw on Abt's rich history and deep expertise to strengthen the science and practice of resilience, which will ultimately  benefit our clients and vulnerable populations in the United States and around the world," said Mark Spranca, vice president of Reputational Capital and Technical Leadership.

About Abt Associates

Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates was ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms in 2011 and also named one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in nearly 40 countries.

SOURCE Abt Associates