Factors Making Small Communities in Pakistan More Vulnerable to Disasters

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Factors making small communities
Pakistan more vulnerable to disasters

As soon as we hear the word disaster, automatically resounding screams and shocking images come in to our mind. Disaster however is a sudden or unforeseen event that has a negative effect on human lives. At individual level it may limit to major illness, death or some economic issue and at a wider scenario it might have effects on the community as a whole in the form of a fire, collapse of a building, epidemics, flood, an earth quake or displacement through conflict, all leading to destruction of assets and above all costing lives. There is no single definition or explanation of a disaster, as a matter of fact in this modern age of science and technology one could predict the time and place and estimate the damage when a disaster would hit a certain area however only an estimate could be made about the outcome of the dreadful event still all the disasters could not be forecasted. This prediction also has difference in opinion when it comes to interpret the disaster; economists may measure it by calculating the loss of assets, health workers might talk of diseases that might spread after the event, political view might be setting institutions to deal with the event and social view might involve the effects on the society. Pakistan has been at risk to many natural and manmade disasters in the past. History states various events when cyclones, flooding, drought, landslides and earth quakes have hit the country. The country is also believed to be one of the most flood prone terrains in South Asia. The floods of 1950, 1992 and 1998 and 2011 have taken various lives and made severe damage to property and assets. Pakistan is also located at seismically active zone making the area vulnerable to extreme consequences. This vulnerability was proven on October 2005 when an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the rector scale had hit 9 districts in Kheyber Pakhtunkhuwa and Azad Jammu Kashmir killing over 72,000 people and destroying over 4,00,000 houses. Pakistan being an agriculture based country also has fear of droughts. The droughts of 2002 had cost an estimated amount of 2.5 billion $. Pakistan does not have a lot of reported cyclone hit incidents to stat yet till now roughly fourteen cyclones have been recorded since 1971-2012 which also had damages in a notable amount. When a disaster strikes some area it does not spare any in its way but the most prone and effected people are the ones who belong to small communities. Their segregation and exclusion in to small communities might be due to the false and holistic systems present in our social circles bases on ethnic, religious or class based values in the current society. Further on these segregated segments are marked as poor or minorities. However these small communities are most vulnerable when a disaster strikes. The level of their vulnerability increases in the post disaster scenario. There are many factors behind the vulnerability which have horrific outcomes for these small communities as a result. I would like to discuss on a few factors which in my view point are the important factors and causes of the increased vulnerability of these small communities. Poverty is one of the most fundamental causes which results in increased level of vulnerability of small communities. Their lack of access to resources leads to the lack of capacity in dealing with a disaster. An estimate made in 2005 states that around 22.6% of the total population lives under the poverty line in the country, further on 40% of the total urban population lives in slums. The economic situation in the country is not very stable and due to this inflation is widespread in the country leading to income volatility. In circumstances where poverty is present in the society at such a high scale, it gets difficult to make ends meet, fighting against a disaster is a question that does not even comes in to the context. Poor construction...
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