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Disaster Management Essay

3463 words - 14 pages

Discuss the assertion that disasters in Africa occur when hazards and vulnerability meet.
Disasters are adverse or unfortunate events especially sudden and extraordinary misfortunes or calamities. Inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa are threatened by natural disasters. This has led to consequences like poverty and disease (World Risk Report 2013). The assertion that disasters in Africa occur when hazards and vulnerability meet is true. Disasters in Africa tend to affect the vulnerable. Natural disasters occurring in African countries undermine the economic survival of poor communities. Many populations in countries throughout the continent have suffered under the impact of such hazards, which ...view middle of the document...

Different communities and countries are more susceptible to the impact of these hazards. The vast majority of lives both lost and affected by natural disasters come from developing countries, underlining the link between poverty and vulnerability to disaster.

The "vulnerability" perspective in disasters, which is rapidly emerging as a dominant view in the field, assumes that a real disaster occurs when it strikes an underprivileged population. Vulnerability is formally defined as "the characteristics of a person or group and their situation that influences their capacity to anticipate, cope with, resist, and recover from the impact of a natural hazard."1 Implicit here is "differential vulnerability"; that is, different populations face different levels of risk and vulnerability. Consequently, policies aimed at addressing risk and vulnerability must also take into account these differential impacts and outcomes of disasters. Although the sources of vulnerability are multiple and quite diverse, some of the most important factors that affect vulnerability include population growth and distribution and social diversity.

Disasters don’t discriminate, but people do. Existing socio-economic conditions mean that disasters can lead to different outcomes even for demographically similar communities but inevitably the most vulnerable groups suffer more than others. ……..2011 reveals that disasters reinforce, perpetuate and increase gender inequality, making bad situations worse for vulnerable groups like women. UN-Habitat (2003) argues that developing nations, particularly those residents in major cities, face greater risk of economic and social catastrophes because of a relative lack of resources to adapt to the situation. This problem is exacerbated by the rapidly increasing urban population in most African countries. Disasters create serious disruption and economic loss which impair the ability of communities (particularly the poorer people) to recover. Government assistance in such situations is often limited due to the already grave financial burdens they face. Countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa are facing this problem where the poor people in urban areas are at risk of health hazards. For example, in Zimbabwe there was an outbreak of cholera which claimed a lot of lives.

According to Ayanji (2004), the African continent is exposed to disaster risk from various natural causes, particularly those arising from hydro meteorological hazards. One reason for this increase in disaster risk is the vulnerability of many communities; the risk to the livelihoods on which they depend, remains high. This vulnerability is also influenced by endemic poverty in many African countries, such as Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. Another problem is recovery planning because not every national government is able to assist all poor communities. Furthermore, increased population growth in most African countries has become an additional problem. It is...

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