Livelihood can be best defined as the methods and means of making a living in the world. The concept revolves around resources such as land/property, crops, food, knowledge, finances, social relationships, and their interrelated connection with the political, economic, and sociocultural characteristics of an individual community. A livelihood consists of capabilities, assets, and activities that are required for living. A sustainable livelihood is defined by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) as having “the ability to cope and recover from unexpected events, while at the same time enhancing current and future capabilities” (UN-ESCAP, 2008). This definition interlinks the definitions of resilience, sustainability, and livelihood, as each affects the others and highlights how DRR or mitigation strategies directly affect sustainable livelihood. This means that there needs to be a heavy focus on reducing vulnerabilities of the community, including reducing poverty levels, building capacities and coping mechanisms, and focusing on community resilience.
There are five primary assets or capitals in the sustainable livelihoods framework that can influence sustainability and community resilience, as they can all be affected during disasters. These assets are human, social, natural, physical, and financial capital. Collectively, this is referred to as the Pentagon model. Human capital includes the skills, knowledge, labor ability, and good health that collectively allow people to pursue livelihood. Social capital consists of the specific social resources that are necessary to pursue one’s own unique livelihood. These can be fostered via establishment of networks, trusting relationships, and membership of formalized groups. Natural capital consists of the natural resource stocks from which resource flows and sources are derived; these natural resource stocks include such elements as nutrient cycling and erosion protection, both which are useful for maintaining livelihood. Physical capital represents the resources available to support viable livelihood. This may include clean water, adequate sanitation, and effective shelter; these items are often encompassed by basic infrastructure. Financial capital consists of the financial resources that are required if people want to fulfill their livelihood objectives.