The Human and Economic Losses of Selected Natural Disasters in Latin America, 1970–1987
Natural disasters are particularly devastating to the social and economic fabric of developing countries which lack sufficient resources and infrastructure to cope with these events. The coincidence of poverty along hurricane tracts, floodplains, volcanic arcs and seismic zones further exacerbates the problem and creates regional pockets of chronic stress.
Deaths resulting from natural disasters are a shock to the communities in which they occur, but these losses to the work force plus the costs of caring for the injured and homeless create a continuing economic drain in the most vulnerable countries. A significant measure of the economic loss resulting from a natural disaster is the total replacement costs to the economy of a country, as a percentage of its Gross National Product, for the year of the disaster. This method factors-in the relative economic abilities of countries to respond to disasters and presents a more balanced view of the actual economic impact of a natural disaster in a particular country.
Graphic representation of the human and economic losses from natural disasters aids in the development of a classification system for comparing the impacts of these events. Such a system should facilitate the work of planners and engineers before replacement funds are allocated to construction projects in hazardous areas.
KeywordsNatural Disaster Gross National Product Economic Commission Capita Growth Rate Chile Earthquake
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