Advertisement

Natural Hazards

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 271–282 | Cite as

People and community as constituent parts of hazards: the significance of societal dimensions in hazards analysis

  • C. Emdad Haque
  • David Etkin
Original Paper

Abstract

Nature-triggered hazards and disasters have traditionally been treated only from the lens of geophysical and biophysical processes, implying that the root cause of large-scale death and destruction lies in the natural domain rather than in a coupled human–environment system. Conceptually, the physical domain has been seen as discrete and separate from human entities, and solutions were sought in the technological intervention and control of the physical environment—solutions that often ended up being less effective than hoped for and sometimes even counter productive. At all levels, institutions have directed and redirected most of their financial and logistical resources into the search for scientific and engineering solutions without allocating due attention and resources towards the assessment of effects and effectiveness of the applications of such technological outcomes. However, over the last two decades, forceful criticisms of the ‘dominant’ technocratic approach to hazards analysis have appeared in the literature and consequently there has not only been a shift in thinking of causation of disaster loss in terms of human vulnerability, but also newer questions have arisen regarding distinguishing between the ‘physical exposure’ of people to threats and societal vulnerability, and linking them with propensity to hazards loss.

Though the vulnerability/resilience paradigm has largely replaced the hazards paradigm within the social sciences and much of the professional emergency and disaster management communities, this shift of thinking has not progressed to much of the physical science community, decision-makers and the public, who have not yet accepted the idea that understanding and using human and societal dimensions is equally or more important than trying to deal and control nature through the use of technology. This special issue is intended to further the idea that the aspects of community and peoples’ power to mitigate, to improve coping mechanisms, to respond effectively, and recover with vigor against the environmental extremes are of paramount conceptual and policy importance.

Keywords

Risk Hazards Vulnerability Resilience Community Disaster management Canada United States Bangladesh 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The symposium on ‘Reducing Risk through Partnerships’ was an initiative of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network (CRHNet), and we would like to thank Leslie King of the Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources of the University of Manitoba for her support and advice. Public Safety Canada, Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization, Earth Science Division of the Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada, and Health Canada, co-sponsors of the symposium, made major contributions to its success and the follow up publications. For this, we thank Peter Hill, Irwin Itzkovitch, Chuck Sanderson, Valeriah Hwacha, Dave Hutton, and Grace Kosida. Finally, this special issue could not have been accomplished without the help of several research and editorial assistants. We would also like to extend our special thanks to Nancy Powell Quinn, Glenn Bergen and Cameron Zywina for their kind help and contributions to the preparation of this special issue.

References

  1. American Geological Institute (1984) Glossary of Geology. American Geological Institute, Falls Church, VAGoogle Scholar
  2. Blaikie P, Cannon T, Davis I, Wisner B (1994) At risk: natural hazards, peoples’ vulnerability, and disasters. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Burton I, Kates RW (1964) The perception of natural hazards in resource management. Nat Resour J 3:412–414Google Scholar
  4. Cannon T (1994) Vulnerability analysis and the explanation of ‘natural’ disasters. In: Varley A (ed) Disasters, development and environment. John Wiley and Sons, pp 13–30Google Scholar
  5. CRHNet (Canadian Risk and Hazards Network) (2005) Reducing risk through partnerships—proceedings of the 1st CRHNet symposium. In: Etkin D (ed) Canadian Risk and Hazards Network, WinnipegGoogle Scholar
  6. Davis I (1987) Safe shelter within unsafe cities: disaster vulnerability and rapid urbanization. Open House Int 12(3):5–15Google Scholar
  7. Davis L (2002) Natural disasters. Checkmark Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Etkin D (2005) An expanded perspective on partnerships for the reduction of hazards and disasters. In: Etkin D (ed) Reducing risk through partnerships—proceedings of the 1st CRHNet symposium. Canadian Risk and Hazards Network, Winnipeg, pp 37–38Google Scholar
  9. Haque CE (1997) Hazards in a fickle environment: Bangladesh. Kluwer Academic Press, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  10. Hewitt K (ed) (1983) Interpretations of calamity. Allen and Unwin Inc, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. IFRCRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) (2003) World disasters report. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  12. IFRCRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) (2004) World disasters report: focus on community resilience. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  13. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Cahnge) (2001) Climate change 2001: synthesis report—summary for policymakers: an assessment of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. (www.ipcc.ch/pub/un/syreng/spm/pdf)Google Scholar
  14. Kates RW, Burton I (eds) (1986a) Geography, resources, and environment: volume I—selected writings of Gilbert F. White. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Kates RW, Burton I (eds) (1986b) Geography, resources, and environment: volume II—themes from the work of Gilbert F. White. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Mileti D (ed) (1999) Disasters by design. Joseph Henry Press, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  17. Munich Reinsurance Company (2003) Topics (Annual review: natural catastrophes 2002). Draft Version, MunichGoogle Scholar
  18. Nash JR (1976) Darkest hours. Pocket Books, WallabyGoogle Scholar
  19. Sen AK (1981) Poverty and famines: an essay on entitlement and deprivation. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Tobin GA, Montz BE (1997) Natural hazards: explanation and integration. The Guilford Press, New York and LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Varley A (ed) (1994) Disasters, development and environment. John Wiley and Sons, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Wisner B (1988) Power and need in Africa: basic human needs and development policies. Earthscan and Africa World Pres, London and Trenton, NJGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resources InstituteUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Emergency Management ProgramAtkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional StudiesTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations