At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability, and Disasters

At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability, and Disasters

At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability, and Disasters

At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability, and Disasters

Synopsis

The term 'natural disaster' is often used to refer to natural events such as earthquakes, hurricanes or floods. However, the phrase 'natural disaster' suggests an uncritical acceptance of a deeply engrained ideological and cultural myth. At Risk questions this myth and argues that extreme natural events are not disasters until a vulnerable group of people is exposed.The updated new edition confronts a further ten years of ever more expensive and deadly disasters and discusses disaster not as an aberration, but as a signal failure of mainstream 'development'. Two analytical models are provided as tools for understanding vulnerability. One links remote and distant 'root causes' to 'unsafe conditions' in a 'progression of vulnerability'. The other uses the concepts of 'access' and 'livelihood' to understand why some households are more vulnerable than others.Examining key natural events and incorporating strategies to create a safer world, this revised edition is an important resource for those involved in the fields of environment and development studies.

Excerpt

The world, and the authors, are 15 years older since a book called At Risk was first discussed. We are happy that the first edition has been widely used, translated into Spanish, and generally been well received. We are less happy about some of the likely reasons for the growing popularity of the notion of vulnerability. One concern is that the term is being used indiscriminately, in a similar manner to 'sustainability'. It is in danger of becoming a catch-all term, with its analytical power and significance diminished. But the term is also becoming more popular as a simple reflection of the growth in people's vulnerability: it is increasing, and more people want to know why. During the past 15 years millions more people have been affected by disasters triggered by natural hazards. These millions are at risk in part because of global economic and political processes that were only becoming recognised in 1988. Looking back, the era in which we first collaborated seems antediluvian. The flood of post-Cold War economic globalisation, the wars and tensions generated by the break up of the Cold War political order, and growing impacts of global environmental change have all contributed to vulnerability. Thinking about all these changes, it was clear we needed to revise our book.

Time has brought changes in our lives as well. Three of us are now retired from full-time teaching. Davis, Visiting Professor at Cranfield University, retired from the Cranfield Disaster Management Centre and continues to make contributions on post-disaster shelter and risk reduction activities. Blaikie has retired from his post at the School of Development Studies (University of East Anglia) and continues to consult and to publish research on resource management in Africa and South Asia. Wisner retired from his position as Director of International Studies and Professor of Geography (California State University, Long Beach) and works as a researcher with the Crisis States Programme of the Development Studies Institute, London School of Economics, as well as consulting for international agencies and NGOs. Cannon is still at the University of Greenwich, where he is Reader in Development Studies in the School of Humanities, and also carries out

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