The Social Dimensions of Disasters
Julie Dekens, ICIMOD
Prepared for regional training course on “Recent Developments in geo‐hazard disaster management; focusing on earthquake vulnerability reduction in mountain regions.”
Peshawar University Summer Campus, 21st August 2008
Disasters are too often conceived as being i f i d b i purely technical, physical issues, whereas they are fundamentally associated with social and f d ll i d ih i l d governance issues.
KEY CONCEPTS KEY CONCEPTS
• A potentially damaging p y g g physical event, phenomenon or human activity that may cause activity that may cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption and economic disruption or environmental degradation. • Potential threat to human and their welfare
• The conditions determined by physical, social, economic, and environmental factors or processes, which h h increase the susceptibility of a community to the impact it t th i t of hazards.
V = f (Exposure + Sensitivity)
• A combination of all the strengths and resources available within a community, society or organization that can h reduce the level of risk, or the effects of a disaster. • E.g., physical, institutional, social or economic , skilled personal or collective attributes such as leadership and management.
Risk = Hazards x Vulnerability capacities
• A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a f ti i f it 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. • Th The realization of the risk li ti f th i k • The failure of development: result of socio‐economic and political structures and political structures and processes. • Reducing disaster means mitigating the hazard AND/OR dealing with vulnerability/capacity
KEY QUESTIONS KEY QUESTIONS
Why people are living at risks? Why people are living at risks? • Lack of knowledge or lack of options? ti ? • Risk trade‐offs: People are often facing multiple stresses. For example, they often have to make example they often have to make difficult choices between long‐term protection against natural hazard risks and immediate livelihood gains such as income and food security. h i df d it • Need to consider the multiple stresses people face (from ‘extraordinary’ to ‘everyday’ risks) extraordinary to everyday risks) rather than focussing solely on the natural hazard
What are the key factors that influence people’s vulnerability to disasters? l ’ l bl d • Various factors acting at Various factors acting at different scale (time and space) simultaneously or not – physical , socio‐cultural, institutional, historical, i tit ti l hi t i l economic, and political factors
Example: social variables Example: social variables
• Social variables such as class, caste, ethnicity, gender, disability, health status, age and immigration status contribute to influence: o Access to resources (including information, knowledge, and technology) o Access to political power and representation p o Social capital, including social networks and connections o Beliefs and customs o Attit d t Attitudes towards change d h o …
Each new flood weakens the economic ( status of this dalit women (Eastern Terai, Nepal)
Who are the most vulnerable to disasters?
Those who are socially excluded and economically insecure, those who are less empowered and who are less empowered and have fewer assets will bear the highest costs of disasters. Women Children Elders Disabled Ethnic minorities Ethnic minorities Poor DRR must focus on the needs of the most vulnerable.
Why vulnerability to natural hazards is rising?
• Vulnerability is dynamic. It is constructed simultaneously on more than one scale. • Changing risk factors •...
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