Natural Hazards and Disasters in the Caribbean

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NATURAL HAZARDS AND DISASTERS IN THE CARIBBEAN    Definitions  A hazard can be defined as, “A potentially damaging physical event, phenomenon or human activity that may cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation”. Hazards can include latent conditions that may represent future threats and can have different origins: natural (geological, hydrometeorological and biological); or induced by human processes (environmental degradation and technological hazards). Hazards can be single, sequential or combined in their origin and effects. Each hazard is characterized by its location, intensity, frequency and probability. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (2004, 16). A disaster can be defined as, “A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources”. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, (2004, 17). A natural hazard can be defined as, “…a potentially dangerous environmental event which impacts on a human population. Moreover natural hazards emerges from environmental activities which are uncontrollable such as Internal Geodynamics (earthquakes and volcanoes), External Geodynamics (Landslides, erosion and flooding), and Hydrometeorology (cyclones, drought, and hurricanes)”. (Good Practices: Natural Hazard Risk Management in the Caribbean Tourism Sector) A natural disaster can be defined as, “…a hazardous event that causes large-scale morbidity/mortality or socioeconomic damage”. Natural disasters arise for the impacts of natural hazards with a specific context and as a result cause serious disruption to the socioeconomic system”. (Good Practices: Natural Hazard Risk Management in the Caribbean Tourism Sector) Vulnerability can be defined as the, “The conditions determined by physical, social, economic, and environmental factors or processes, which increase the susceptibility of a community to the impact of hazards”, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, (2004, 16). Risk can be defined as the “probability of harmful consequences, or expected losses (deaths, injuries, property, livelihoods, economic activity disrupted or environment damaged) resulting from interactions between natural or human-induced hazards and vulnerable conditions”. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, (2004, 16). Disaster Risk can be defined as the, “potential for damage and loss associated with the occurrence of diverse types, intensities and magnitudes of physical phenomena, affecting exposed or vulnerable populations, their livelihoods and infrastructures”. (Good Practices: Natural Hazard Risk Management in the Caribbean Tourism Sector)

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Disaster Risk Management can be defined as “The systematic process of using administrative decisions, organization, operational skills and capacities to implement policies, strategies and coping capacities of the society and communities to lessen the impacts of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters”. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, (2004, 17)

Hazards and Disasters in the Caribbean 
There are many natural hazards that affect the Caribbean region, and as a result shape the structure of the Caribbean. Some of these natural hazards include hurricanes, tropical storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and flooding. These are significant environmental systems and processes that exist within the Caribbean region and as a result affect the social, economic, and physical infrastructure of the region which suffers physical damages, economic losses, dislocation and loss of life when these events occur. Moreover, the Caribbean is prone to natural hazards which affects both national and regional ability to achieve overall economic development goals. Some natural hazards that have...
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