This paper aims to review the publication of the World Bank Risk Management on the natural disaster hotspots. Specifically, this book is entitled “Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis”. In addition, this book was published in 1995 in order to address increasing risk brought by the natural disasters all over the world. As a result, this book gave light to the role of natural disasters in significantly shaping the lives of every people as well as its economy and its community. And so, a review in this book will yield great results to the readers of this paper.
A Global Risk Analysis on Natural Disasters Natural disasters are described as any terrible event, not caused by human activity, which results in deaths, injuries or even damage to property. (Forces of Nature, 2007) As it name implies one cannot avoid the occurrence of natural catastrophes since they are not man-made activities. In other words, human activities cannot interfere with the occurrence of natural phenomenon. More importantly, their occurrence usually causes great damage on the lives and community of people.
And as a matter of fact, it disrupts the everyday conduct of lives of human beings. In the book, the authors have presented the great risk faced by people with the occurrence of the natural catastrophes. More specifically, the study reveals that 3. 4 billion people, more than half or the world’s population, live in areas where at least one hazard could significantly impact them. Aside from this finding, other important findings in the book are as follows: (Uku and Tobin, 2005) • Approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s land surface is exposed to at least one of the natural hazards evaluated;
• 160 countries have more than one quarter of their population in areas of high mortality risk from one or more hazards; • More than 90 countries have more than 10 percent of their population in areas of high mortality risk from two or more hazards; • In 35 countries, more than 1 in 20 residents lives at relatively high mortality risk from 3 or more hazards; • More than one-third of the United States’ population lives in hazard-prone areas, but only one percent of its land area ranks in the highest disaster-related mortality risk category;
• Taiwan may be the place on Earth most vulnerable to natural hazards, with 73 percent of its land and population exposed to three or more hazards; • More than 90 percent of the populations of Bangladesh, Nepal, the Dominican Republic, Burundi, Haiti, Taiwan, Malawi, El Salvador, and Honduras live in areas at high relative risk of death from two or more hazards; and • Poorer countries in the developing world are more likely to have difficulty absorbing repeated disaster-related losses and costs associated with disaster relief, recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Indeed, natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones, droughts, landslides and floods cause tens and thousands of deaths as well as hundreds of thousands of injuries. Aside from deaths and injuries, natural hazards also cause economic losses around the world each year. As such, billions of dollars are expended also every year in the aspect of humanitarian assistance, emergency loans and development aids. (Dilley et. al. , 2005) And so, the key findings of the book imply that in almost all parts of the world, people are faced with great risks from natural hazards.
As a result, the occurrence of these natural phenomena disrupts the regular conduct of personal and business activities of people and organization. This disruption, in turn, results to the overall socio-economic development of a nation. And in the case of the developing world, development will even become more elusive. With the annual occurrence of natural disasters, it is the poor nations that are greatly affected, such that they become poorer and poorer with every cyclical happening of natural phenomena.
Despite the large losses of people and money from natural disasters, organizations especially governments are unable to address effectively the damages brought about by natural disasters. This claim has been evident on the recoded loss of human lives as well as properties annually due to natural catastrophes. For instance, the tsunami incident that happened in Thailand last December 26, 2004 had killed 229,866 people. Also, the international community has donated an estimated US $7 billion for humanitarian aid to all the victims of the tsunami incident.
And so, the reluctance on the part of the government and the people can be traced on the fact that natural disasters are unavoidable phenomena. What they can only do is to experience this phenomenon and hope for the minimal damage it brings. This kind of thinking has been the target of the book. It aims to deliver the message that in spite of the potential threats brought about by natural disasters, the people and the government can coordinate in order to have a successful encounter with these phenomena.
Furthermore, the book emphasizes more on the development issues rather than the typical issues on humanitarian aspect. It also identifies the regions which are highly at risk with natural hazards. In this way, development efforts can be better informed and designed to reduce disaster-related losses in the future. Because of the natural hazard cycles repeating themselves every few years, developing countries find themselves in a vicious cycle of loss and recovery without the ability to move forward and achieve sustainable development.
As such, there is a need for the highly affected nations such as the developing world to cooperate with the international community in devising ways to manage disaster risk rather than merely giving humanitarian aids. It is through disaster risk management that the international community can truly help the developing nations. As mentioned earlier, the occurrence of natural catastrophes cannot be avoided. And so, it is best to have an effective risk management program on disasters than forever be included in the vicious cycle of damage and revitalization.
By stepping out of the vicious cycle, one is removed from the path of continuous loss and recovery, thus achieving development. Based on the book, risk management on disasters is effectively done by primarily focusing on the two disaster-related outcomes- the mortality and economic losses. The risk level was then estimated by combining the hazard exposure with historical vulnerability for two indicators of elements at risk- gridded population and gross domestic product (GDP) per unit area- for six major natural hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, drought and cyclones.
The natural disasters were classified in three categories- geophysical, hydro and drought. The geophysical includes the volcanoes, earthquakes and landslides. On the hydro, it consists of the floods and hurricanes. And so, by calculating the relative risks for grid cells rather than for countries as a whole, the authors are able to estimate risk levels at sub-national scales. (Dilley et. al. , 2005) Conclusion Overall, the book served as a catalyst in enlightening individuals as well as organizations both in the public and private realm about the impact of natural disasters and how they will be able to address this phenomenon.
Undoubtedly, the book has shed some light into the ways of escaping the vicious cycle of loss and recovery, which is brought about by the annual occurrence of natural disasters. This is especially true in the context of the developing world wherein development becomes elusive once countries have entered the natural hazard cycle. And so, in order not to aggravate poverty, countries especially the developing ones must properly manage natural hazards. The occurrence of natural disasters can be addressed by the international community not through humanitarian aid but by development programs in the context of risk management on disasters.
REFERENCES Dilley, M. , Chen, R. , Deichmann, U. , Lerner-Lam, A. and Arnold M. (2005, April). Natural disaster hotspots: A global risk analysis. World Bank disaster risk management series no. 5. Forces of Nature. Glossary. Retrieved June 26, 2007 from, http://library. thinkquest. org/C003603/english/glossary. shtml. Uku, R. and Tobin, M. (2005, March 31). Natural disaster hotspots: A global risk analysis- Columbia University and the World Bank produce new report. EurekAlert.
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