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Natural Disasters and Adaptive Capacity

  • Jeff Dayton-Johnson

Natural disasters (droughts, earthquakes, epidemics, floods, wind storms) damage wellbeing, both in their immediate and long-term aftermath, and because the insecurity of exposure to disasters is in itself harmful to risk-averse people. As such, mitigating and coping with the risk of natural disasters is a pressing issue for economic development. This paper provides a conceptual framework for understanding natural disasters. Disasters, which imply tragic human costs, are distinguished from hazards, which are events like earthquakes or flooding: hazards only translate into disasters when societies are vulnerable to them. Consequently international development policy can play a role in reducing the costs of disasters by addressing vulnerability. A review of two recent disasters — the Turkish earthquakes of 1999, and Hurricane Mitch in 1998 — illustrates the importance of precarious urbanisation and environmental degradation for increased vulnerability to natural hazards. These cases ... Les catastrophes naturelles (sécheresses, tremblements de terre, épidémies, inondations, ouragans) sont nuisibles au bien-être, tant par leurs retombées immédiates et de long terme que par la nuisance provoquée par l’insécurité qui leur est associée chez les individus adverses au risque. Ainsi, la gestion des effets des catastrophes naturelles, de même que celle du risque de leur déclanchement, sont des questions urgentes pour le développement économique. Ce document fournit un cadre conceptuel pour mieux comprendre les catastrophes naturelles. Celles-ci impliquent des coûts humains tragiques et se distinguent des situations à risque, qui sont des événements tels que les tremblements de terre ou les inondations : les situations à risqué ne deviennent des catastrophes que lorsque les sociétés leur sont vulnérables. Par conséquent, les politiques publiques internationales pour le développement peuvent contribuer à réduire leur coût en visant sur la vulnérabilité. Un examen de deux ...

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Development Centre Working Papers with number 237.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:237-en
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