Socio-Economic Aspects of Disaster’s Impact: An Assessment of Databases and Methodologies
Economists and social scientists have for the most part not considered disaster issues as a priority. This has changed in recent years as researchers have been analyzing disasters quantitatively in an effort to understand their social, economic and political dimensions. Consequently, there seems to be an ever growing demand for data and information as well as a sound set of methodologies so as to facilitate a thorough investigation of disasters’ impact on national development. The present study provides an assessment of existing methodologies of estimating socioeconomic aspects of disaster impacts and the availability and adequacy of existing data on disaster events. The study methodology involves three major activities, review of literature, assessment of existing databases and methodologies, and examination of case studies of recent disasters in Southeast Asia. As reviewed in the paper, major impediments to analyzing disaster impact in the Southeast Asian countries are issues related to data collection and estimation methodologies, complex nature of disaster impact, inadequate national capacity to undertake impact assessments and high frequency of natural disasters. Despite the exploratory nature of this study, issues raised here indicate the precarious situation of hazards and disaster risks in this region thus justifying additional work in this area. The key data issues that complicate the task of disaster impact estimation include data inadequacy, data inconsistency, variations in terminologies used in relation to data attributes and the resulting difficulties in identifying disasters and their effects. The existing methodologies available for estimating disaster impacts face several issues due to the complex nature of impact assessment. Economic models that are used in disaster impact assessment were not designed specifically for disaster analysis and many for the most part do not account for disruptions in economic relationships as a result of disasters. Additionally, following a disaster event, several other factors might come to play. Consequently, these general purpose models fail to handle the abruptness and largely unpredictable situation during a disaster event. In light of these findings the paper recommends areas for further investigation with focus on Southeast Asia.
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