Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Choose ONE REMEMBER YOU NEED TO REFERENCE 2 CLASS READINGS TO ANSWER ANY OF THE FOLLOWING: 1) Descr | Max paper
  

Choose ONE 

REMEMBER YOU NEED TO REFERENCE 2 CLASS READINGS TO ANSWER ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

1) Describe the 4 types of vulnerabilities discussed in the Coppola chapter 3 reading on Risk and Vulnerability. Explain the relationship between these vulnerabilities and disaster consequences using one other reading from this week.

2) Discuss 2 opportunities and 2 challenges of disaster management in developing countries as discussed by Kunreuther, H., & Useem, M. (2009) and one any other readings from this week.

Requirements: Identify the question you decide to answer at the top of your post. Prompt responses should answer the question and elaborate in a meaningful way using 2 of the weekly class readings (250 words of original content). Do not quote the readings, paraphrase and cite them using APA style in text citations. You can only use ONE multimedia source for your minimum 2 sources each week. The readings must be from the current week. The more sources you use, the more convincing your argument. Include a reference list in APA style at the end of your post, does not count towards minimum word content.

Introduction to International
Disaster Management

Third Edition

Damon P. Coppola

AMSTERDAM • BOSTON • HEIDELBERG • LONDON

NEW YORK • OXFORD • PARIS • SAN DIEGO

SAN FRANCISCO • SINGAPORE • SYDNEY • TOKYO

Butterworth-Heinemann is an imprint of Elsevier

1Introduction to International Disaster Management. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-801477-6.00001-0
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER

THE MANAGEMENT
OF DISASTERS 1
CHAPTER SUMMARIES

Disasters have adversely affected humans since the dawn of our existence. In response, individuals and societies

alike have made many attempts to decrease their exposure to the consequences of these disasters. All of these

efforts have the same goal: disaster management. The motivating concepts that guide disaster management—the

reduction of harm to life, property, and the environment—are largely the same throughout the world. Whether due

to political, cultural, economic, or other reasons, the unfortunate reality is that some countries and some regions

are more capable than others at addressing the problem. Furthermore, the emergence of a global economy makes

it increasingly difficult to contain the consequences of any disaster within one country’s borders. This chapter

examines basic concepts of disaster management and expands upon those concepts to specifically address the

management of international disasters, which is a complex discipline. Like disaster management on the national

level, it involves actions that seek to mitigate the effects of hazards, ensures that populations are prepared for

disasters should they occur, facilitates the response to disasters that do occur, and helps nations and people recover

in the months and years following disaster events. The chapter provides a brief history of disaster management. To

illustrate the disparity in the effects of disasters around the world, an examination of the global impact of disasters

has also been carried out.

Key Terms: civil defense; complex humanitarian emergency; disaster; disaster management; disaster trends;

emergency management; history of emergency management; mitigation; preparedness response; recovery.

INTRODUCTION

Disasters have adversely affected humans since the dawn of our existence. In response, individuals

and societies alike have made many attempts to decrease their exposure to the consequences of these

disasters, developing measures to address initial impact as well as post-disaster response and recov-

ery needs. Regardless of the approach adopted, all of these efforts have the same goal: disaster

management.

The motivating concepts that guide disaster management—the reduction of harm to life, property,

and the environment—are largely the same throughout the world. However, the capacity to carry out

this mission is by no means uniform. Whether due to political, cultural, economic, or other reasons,

the unfortunate reality is that some countries and some regions are more capable than others at

addressing the problem. But no nation, regardless of its wealth or influence, is advanced enough to

be fully immune from disasters’ negative effects. Furthermore, the emergence of a global economy

makes it more and more difficult to contain the consequences of any disaster within one country’s

borders.

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS2

This chapter examines basic concepts of disaster management and expands upon those concepts to

specifically address the management of international disasters. A brief history of disaster management

is provided for context. To illustrate the disparity in the effects of disasters around the world, an exami-

nation of the global impact of disasters follows. Finally, several relevant terms used throughout this text

are defined.

DISASTERS THROUGHOUT HISTORY

Disasters are not merely ornamental or interesting events that adorn our collective historical record—

these disruptions have served to guide and shape it. Entire civilizations have been decimated in an

instant. Time and time again, epidemics and pandemics have resulted in sizable reductions of the

world’s population, as much as 50 percent across Europe during the fourteenth century bubonic plague

(Black Plague) pandemic. Theorists have even ventured to suggest that many of history’s great civiliza-

tions, including the Mayans, the Norse, the Minoans, and the Old Egyptian Empire, were ultimately

brought to their knees not by their enemies but by the effects of floods, famines, earthquakes, tsunamis,

El Niño events, and other widespread disasters (Fagan 1999). A worldwide drought in the eighth and

ninth centuries, caused by shifts in the yearly monsoons and resulting in mass crop failure and subse-

quent starvation, is now believed to have been behind the fall of both the Mayan empire in Mexico and

the Tang dynasty in China (Sheridan 2007). From a modern perspective, each of the catastrophic events

that has occurred as of late, including the December 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami (over 230,000

killed), the 2005 Kashmir earthquake (80,000 killed), the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China (68,000

killed), the 2008 Cyclone Nargis (135,000 killed), the 2010 Haiti earthquake (perhaps as many as

200,000 killed), and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (16,000 killed) might seem anomalous, but

these disastrous events are not close to record-breaking, or even unique, in the greater historical context.

(See table 1.1.)

Table 1.1 Selected Notable Disasters throughout History

Disaster Year Number Killed

Mediterranean earthquake (Egypt and Syria) 1201 1,100,000

Shaanxi earthquake (China) 1556 830,000

Calcutta typhoon (India) 1737 300,000

Caribbean hurricane (Martinique, St. Eustatius, Barbados) 1780 22,000

Tamboro volcano (Indonesia) 1815 80,000

Influenza epidemic (world) 1917 20,000,000

Yangtze River flood (China) 1931 3,000,000

Famine (Russia) 1932 5,000,000

Bangladesh cyclone (Bangladesh) 1970 300,000

Tangshan earthquake (China) 1976 655,000

Source: St. Louis University, 1997; NBC News, 2004.

3 THE HISTORY OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT

THE HISTORY OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT

ANCIENT HISTORY

Hazards, and the disasters that often result, have not always existed. To qualify as a hazard, an action,

event, or object must maintain a positive likelihood of affecting humans or possibly have a consequence

that may adversely affect humans’ existence. Until humans existed on the planet, neither the likelihood

nor the consequence factors of hazards were calculable; thus their presence is negated.

With the appearance of humans, however, followed the incidence of hazards and disasters. Archeo-

logical discovery has shown that our prehistoric ancestors faced many of the same risks that exist today:

starvation, inhospitable elements, dangerous wildlife, violence at the hands of other humans, disease,

accidental injuries, and more. These early inhabitants did not, however, sit idly by and become easy

victims. Evidence indicates that they took measures to reduce, or mitigate, their risks. The mere fact

that they chose to inhabit caves is testament to this theory.

Various applications of disaster management appear throughout the historical record. The story of

Noah’s ark from the Old Testament, for example, is a lesson in the importance of warning, prepared-

ness, and mitigation. In this tale, believed to be based at least partly on actual events, Noah is warned

of an approaching flood. He and his family prepare for the impending disaster by constructing a floating

ark. The protagonist in this story even attempts to mitigate the impact on the planet’s biodiversity by

collecting two of each species and placing them within the safety of the ark. These individuals are

rewarded for their actions by surviving the disastrous flood. Those who did not perform similar actions,

the story tells us, perished.

Evidence of risk management practices can be found as early as 3200 BC. In what is now modern-

day Iraq lived a social group known as the Asipu. When community members faced a difficult decision,

especially one involving risk or danger, they could appeal to the Asipu for advice. The Asipu, using a

process similar to modern-day hazards risk management, would first analyze the problem at hand, then

propose several alternatives, and finally give possible outcomes for each alternative (Covello and

Mumpower 1985). Today, this methodology is referred to as decision analysis, and it is key to any

comprehensive risk management endeavor.

Early history is also marked by incidents of organized emergency response. For example, when in

AD 79 the volcano Vesuvius began erupting, two towns in its shadow—Herculaneum and Pompeii—

faced an impending catastrophe. Although Herculaneum, which was at the foot of the volcano and

therefore directly in the path of its lava flow, was buried almost immediately, the majority of Pompeii’s

population survived. This was because the citizens of Pompeii had several hours before the volcano

covered their city in ash, and evidence suggests that the city’s leaders organized a mass evacuation. The

few who refused to leave suffered the ultimate consequence, and today lie as stone impressions in an

Italian museum.

MODERN ROOTS

All-hazards disaster and emergency management, wherein a comprehensive approach is applied to

address most or all of a community’s hazard risks, are relatively new. However, many of the concepts

that guide today’s practice can be traced to the achievements of past civilizations. While the manage-

ment of disasters during the past few thousand years was limited to single acts or programs addressing

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS4

individual hazards, many of these accomplishments were quite organized, comprehensive, and surpris-

ingly effective at reducing both human suffering and damage to the built environment. See the follow-

ing examples.

Floods have always confounded human settlements. However, archeologists have found evidence in

several distinct and unrelated locations that early civilizations made attempts to formally address the

flood hazard. One of the most celebrated of these attempts occurred in Egypt during the reign of

Amenemhet III (1817–1722 BC). Amenemhet III created what has been described as history’s first

substantial river control project. Using a system of over 200 “water wheels,” some of which remain to

this day, the pharaoh effectively diverted the annual floodwaters of the Nile River into Lake Moeris. In

doing so, the Egyptians were able to reclaim over 153,000 acres of fertile land that would have otherwise

served no use (Quarantelli 1995; ESIS n.d.).

The roots of the modern fire department trace back 2,000 years to when the city of Rome was nearly

destroyed by fire. Before this event, slaves had been tasked with fighting fires, and their poor training, lack

of equipment, and understandable lack of motivation made them highly ineffective. Following the great

fire, Emperor Augustus established a formal, city-wide firefighting unit from within the Roman army

called the Corps of Vigiles. As a result, the firefighting profession became highly respected and, likewise,

highly effective, and was emulated throughout the vast Roman Empire for 500 years. The structure of this

organization was quite similar to many fire departments today, with members filling job-specific roles.

(See exhibit 1.1.) With the fall of Rome, however, came the disappearance of the Corps of Vigiles, and

organized firefighting did not appear anywhere in the world for another 1,000 years.

The Incas, who lived throughout the Andes region in South America during the thirteenth to fif-

teenth centuries, practiced a form of urban planning that focused on their need to defend themselves

from enemy attack. Many of the Incan cities were located at the peaks of rugged, although easily defen-

sible, mountains. The prime example of their architectural achievement is the fortress of Machu Picchu.

However, in locating their cities upon mountaintops and other similar areas, the Incas merely replaced

one man-made hazard with a whole range of environmental hazards. To facilitate life on this extreme

terrain, the Incas developed an innovative form of land terracing that not only conserved water in their

unpredictable climate but also protected their crops—and thus their existence—from the landslides that

occurred during periods of heavy precipitation.

As later eras are examined, still more examples of methods created to address specific hazards

and their consequences emerge. One of the greatest and most effective forms of disaster mitigation

in history is the collective effort of the British and Indian governments, which sought to reduce

Indians’ annual suffering and starvation that occurred as a result of regular drought patterns. These

famines became so devastating during the late nineteenth century that up to a million people were

dying of starvation each year. A government study found that sufficient food existed throughout

EXHIBIT 1.1 JOB TITLES WITHIN THE ROMAN CORPS OF VIGILES

Aquarius: The firefighter whose main duties were the supply of water to the siphos or pumps and the organization of

“bucket chains.”

Siphonarius: The firefighter who was responsible for the supervision and operation of the water pumps.

Uncinarius: The firefighter who was a “hook” man, who carried a large fire hook for pulling off burning roofs.

Source: FFCA, 2014.

5 THE HISTORY OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT

the country to feed the nation’s entire population at all times, but insufficient capacity to distribute

these resources led to location-specific shortages. To address these problems, planning committees

were formed to develop various preventive measures, including a rapid expansion of the extensive

railway system that crisscrosses the country (to quickly transport food), the adoption of a method

by which indicators of emerging needs were identified and logged in a central repository, and

greater monitoring of public health. So effective at controlling famine were these measures that

many remain in force today. How much of a positive role was played by India’s acclaimed railroad,

which connects almost every settlement nationwide, continues to be debated. (Keniston 2007;

Sweeney 2008).

CIVIL DEFENSE: THE BIRTH OF MODERN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

There is no global formula that explains how the countries of the world developed their disaster

management capacities. However, there is one particular period in recent history that witnessed the

greatest overall move toward a centralized safeguarding of citizens—the Civil Defense era. (See

figure 1.1.)

FIGURE 1.1

Civil defense era poster, Pennsylvania, United States.

Source: Library of Congress, 2000.

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS6

Modern disaster management, in terms of the emergence of global standards and organized efforts

to address preparedness, mitigation, and response activities for a wide range of disasters, did not begin

to emerge until the mid-twentieth century. In most countries, this change materialized as a response to

specific disaster events. At the same time, it was further galvanized by a shift in social philosophy, in

which the government played an increasing role in preventing and responding to disasters. The legal

foundation that allowed for such a shift was the result of advances in warfare technology.

In response to the threat posed by air raids and the ever-present and dreadful prospect of a nuclear

attack, many industrialized nations’ governments began to form elaborate systems of civil defense.

These systems included detection mechanisms, early warning alarms, hardened shelters, search and

rescue teams, and local and regional coordinators. Most nations’ legislatures also established legal

frameworks to guide both the creation and maintenance of these systems through the passage of

laws, the creation of national-level civil defense organizations, and the allocation of funding and

personnel.

Despite these impressive efforts, surprisingly few civil defense units evolved over time into more

comprehensive disaster or emergency management organizations (Quarantelli 1995). But the legal

framework developed to support them remained in place and formed the basis for modern disaster and

emergency management as we know it today. For example:

• Great Britain’s disaster management agency traces its roots to the Civil Defense Act of 1948.

• Canada’s Office of Critical Infrastructure Preparedness and Emergency Preparedness (OCIPEP)

grew out of the Canadian Civil Defense Organization created in 1948.

• The United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grew out of the Federal

Civil Defense Act of 1950.

• France’s civil protection is a product of that nation’s 1950 Ordinance and the 1965 Decree Relat-

ing to Civil Defense.

• Algeria Civil Protection grew out of the 1964 Decree on the Administrative Organization of Civil

Defense.

CAPACITY BY DEMAND: THE 1970S AND ‘80S

National emergency management capacity began to take a more centralized role in the 1970s and ‘80s

as countries focused on the creation of national-level emergency management systems. Many devel-

oped their disaster management capabilities out of necessity and an acceptance of the need to formalize

both the authority and budget for an agency to address blatant disaster risk. Other countries formed

their disaster management structures not for civil defense, but after being spurred into action by popular

criticism for poor management of a natural disaster (e.g., Peru in 1970, Nicaragua in 1972, and

Guatemala in 1976 following destructive earthquakes in each country).

And yet others, to a diminishing degree, still have no real emergency management structure to speak

of, irrespective of their disaster history.

THE INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR NATURAL DISASTER REDUCTION

On December 11, 1987, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 1990s to be the “Interna-

tional Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction” (IDNDR). This action was taken to promote internation-

ally coordinated efforts to reduce material losses and social and economic disruption caused by natural

7 CAPACITY BY DEMAND: THE 1970S AND ‘80S

disasters, especially in developing countries, through capacity building. On December 22, 1989,

through UN Resolution 44/236, the General Assembly set forth the goals they wished to achieve during

the Decade. In addition to establishing a special UN office in Geneva to coordinate associated activi-

ties, the resolution directed the various UN agencies to:

• improve the capacity of each country to mitigate the effects of natural disasters expeditiously and

effectively, paying special attention to assisting developing countries in the assessment of disaster

damage potential and in the establishment of early warning systems and disaster-resistant struc-

tures when and where needed;

• devise appropriate guidelines and strategies for applying existing scientific and technical knowl-

edge, taking into account the cultural and economic diversity among nations;

• foster scientific and engineering endeavors aimed at closing critical gaps in knowledge in order to

reduce loss of life and property;

• disseminate existing and new technical information related to measures for the assessment, pre-

diction, and mitigation of natural disasters;

• develop measures for the assessment, prediction, prevention, and mitigation of natural disasters

through programmes of technical assistance and technology transfer, demonstration projects, and

education and training, tailored to specific disasters and locations, and to evaluate the effective-

ness of those programs. (United Nations 1989)

It was expected that all participating governments would, at the national level:

• formulate national disaster-mitigation programmes, as well as economic, land use, and insurance

policies for disaster prevention, and particularly in developing countries, to integrate them fully

into their national development programmes;

• participate during the [IDNDR] in concerted international action for the reduction of natural disas-

ters and, as appropriate, establish national committees in cooperation with the relevant scientific

and technological communities and other concerned sectors with a view to attaining the objective

and goals of the Decade;

• encourage their local administrations to take appropriate steps to mobilize the necessary sup-

port from the public and private sectors and to contribute the achievement of the purposes of the

Decade;

• keep the Secretary-General informed of the plans of their countries and of assistance that can

be provided so that the United Nations may become an international centre for the exchange of

information and the coordination of international efforts concerning activities in support of the

objective and goals of the Decade, thus enabling each State to benefit from the experience of other

countries;

• take measures, as appropriate, to increase public awareness of damage risk probabilities and of the

significance of preparedness, prevention, relief, and short-term recovery activities with respect to

natural disasters, and to enhance community preparedness through education, training, and other

means, taking into account the specific role of the news media;

• pay due attention to the impact of natural disasters on healthcare, particularly to activities to

reduce the vulnerability of hospitals and health centres, as well as the impact on food storage

facilities, human shelter, and other social and economic infrastructure;

• improve the early international availability of appropriate emergency supplies through the storage

or earmarking of such supplies in disaster-prone areas. (United Nations 1989)

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS8

THE YOKOHAMA STRATEGY – GLOBAL RECOGNITION OF THE NEED FOR DISASTER
MANAGEMENT

In May 1994, UN member states met at the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction in

Yokohama, Japan, to assess the progress attained by the IDNDR. At this meeting, they developed the

Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World. Through this document, the UN affirmed that:

1. Impact of natural disasters in terms of human and economic losses has risen in recent years, and

society in general has become more vulnerable to natural disasters. Those usually most affected

by natural and other disasters are the poor and socially disadvantaged groups in developing

countries, as they are least equipped to cope with them.

2. Disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and relief are four elements which contribute to

and gain from the implementation of sustainable development policies. These elements, along

with environmental protection and sustainable development, are closely interrelated. Therefore,

nations should incorporate them in their development plans and ensure efficient follow-up mea-

sures at the community, national, subregional, regional, and international levels.

3. Disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness are better than disaster response in achiev-

ing [disaster reduction] goals. . . . Disaster response alone is not sufficient, as it yields only

temporary results at a very high cost. We have followed this limited approach for too long. This

has been further demonstrated by the recent focus on response to complex emergencies, which,

although compelling, should not divert from pursuing a comprehensive approach. Prevention

contributes to lasting improvement in safety and is essential to integrated disaster management.

4. The world is increasingly interdependent. All countries shall act in a new spirit of partnership to

build a safer world based on common interests and shared responsibility to save human lives, since

natural disasters do not respect borders. Regional and international cooperation will significantly

enhance our ability to achieve real progress in mitigating disasters through the transfer of technol-

ogy and the sharing of information and joint disaster prevention and mitigation activities. Bilateral

and multilateral assistance and financial resources should be mobilized to support these efforts.

5. The information, knowledge, and some of the technology necessary to reduce the effects of

natural disasters can be available in many cases at low cost and should be applied. Appropriate

technology and data, with the corresponding training, should be made available to all freely and

in a timely manner, particularly to developing countries.

6. Community involvement and their active participation should be encouraged to gain greater

insight into the individual and collective perception of development and risk, and to have a clear

understanding of the cultural and organizational characteristics of each society as well as of its

behaviour and interactions with the physical and natural environment. This knowledge is of the

utmost importance to determine those things which favour and hinder prevention and mitigation

or encourage or limit the preservation of the environment for the development of future genera-

tions, and in order to find effective and efficient means to reduce the impact of disasters.

7. The adopted Yokohama Strategy and related Plan of Action for the rest of the Decade and

beyond:

a. Will note that each country has the sovereign responsibility to protect its citizens from natu-

ral disasters;

b. Will give priority attention to the developing countries, in particular the least developed,

land-locked countries and the small island developing States;

9 CAPACITY BY DEMAND: THE 1970S AND ‘80S

c. Will develop and strengthen national capacities and capabilities and, where appropriate,

national legislation for natural and other disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness,

including the mobilization of non-governmental organizations and participation of local

communities;

d. Will promote and strengthen subregional, regional, and international cooperation in activities

to prevent, reduce, and mitigate natural and other disasters, with particular emphasis on:

– Human and institutional capacity-building and strengthening;

– Technology sharing, the collection, the dissemination, and the utilization of information;

– Mobilization of resources.

8. The international community and the United Nations system in particular must provide adequate

support to [natural disaster reduction].

9. The Yokohama Conference is at a crossroad in human progress. In one direction lie the

meagre results of an extraordinary opportunity given to the United Nations and its Member

States. In the other direction, the United Nations and the world community can change

the course of events by reducing the suffering from natural disasters. Action is urgently

needed.

10. Nations should view the Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World as a call to action, individually

and in concert with other nations, to implement policies and goals reaffirmed in Yokohama, and

to use the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction as a catalyst for change. (ISDR

1994)

The participating member states accepted the following principles to be applied to disaster manage-

ment within their own countries. The tenth and final principle formalized the requirement that each

nation’s government accept responsibility for protecting its people from the consequences of

disasters:

1. Risk assessment is a required step for the adoption of adequate and successful disaster reduction

policies and measures.

2. Disaster prevention and preparedness are of primary importance in reducing the need for disaster

relief.

3. Disaster prevention and preparedness should be considered integral aspects of development

policy and planning at national, regional, bilateral, multilateral, and international levels.

4. Development and strengthening of capacities to prevent, reduce, and mitigate disasters [are] top

priority area[s] to be addressed during the Decade so as to provide a strong basis for follow-up

activities [after that period].

5. Early warnings of impending disasters and their effective dissemination using telecommu-

nications, including broadcast services, are key factors to successful disaster prevention and

preparedness.

6. Preventive measures are most effective when they involve participation at all levels, from the

local community through the national government to the regional and international levels.

7. Vulnerability can be reduced by the application of proper design and patterns of development

focused on target groups by appropriate education and training of the whole community.

8. The international community accepts the need to share the necessary technology to prevent,

reduce, and mitigate disaster; this should be made freely available and in a timely manner as an

integral part of technical cooperation.

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS10

9. Environmental …

Can Poor Countries Afford to Prepare for
Low-Probability Risks?

Michele McNabb, Freeplay Energy

Kristine Pearson, Freeplay Foundation

Overview
This chapter examines how less-developed countries can prepare

for low-probability risks in the face of so many other pressing needs
such as health care, education, clean water, and roads. The case of
Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (Burma) is examined, among other
recent disasters. Although it would be easy to vilify the globally
unpopular government of Myanmar and blame it for the deaths of
130,000 people, the truth is more complex. Cyclone Nargis hit a part
of the country with a low probability of cyclones. Can poor countries
like Myanmar build comprehensive cyclone warning systems for
areas that might not face another cyclone for decades or even cen-
turies? What good is a warning system if the people are too poor to
evacuate and roads are nearly nonexistent? With global climate
change, anomalistic weather is projected to increase, meaning
extreme weather events are likely to impact areas previously unaf-
fected. How can early-warning systems be created for every potential
disaster in every region? The authors argue that developing countries
cannot afford to build individual early-warning systems for low-
probability disasters, so they must rely on (1) multihazard warning
systems, (2) disaster risk-reduction education and training, (3) low-
cost/low-technology solutions, and (4) multiuse communication

6

100

From the Library of Daniel Johnson

structures that can serve general development and early-warning
purposes.

Can Poor Countries Afford to Prepare for
Low-Probability Risks?

Natural disasters don’t discriminate between rich people and
poor people. Whether over shacks or mansions, floodwaters rise
evenly, and hurricane winds blow with the same intensity. Yet the
poor, the disenfranchised, and the weak usually suffer the greatest
loss of life and lose a greater proportion of their livelihoods in disas-
ters. The reasons disasters have such disproportional effects on the
poor are clear: They have less ability to prepare for and mitigate the
effects of disasters. They live in flimsy houses. They are likely to hold
any wealth in assets like cattle or jewelry instead of in banks. They
don’t have insurance. Their jobs often depend on the land. They lack
vehicles or money to evacuate quickly. They may lack means of com-
munication to learn of an impending disaster or to plan an escape.

In rich countries, governments normally accept the responsibility
to provide extra assistance to vulnerable groups when a disaster
strikes. When the world’s richest country failed to protect its most
vulnerable citizens as Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the entire
moral fiber of the country was shaken. Stories of old people aban-
doned by their caregivers and the obvious racial and socioeconomic
composition of people crowded on roof tops and in sports stadiums
caused countless editorials and deep questioning about government’s
duty to protect its own most vulnerable citizens. Barack Obama high-
lighted the moral responsibility of governments when he accepted
the Democratic nomination for president, saying “We are more com-
passionate than a government…that sits on its hands while a major
American city drowns before our eyes.”1

However, what about the governments of poor countries? Do they
not have the same moral responsibility to protect their citizens?
Cyclone Nargis killed 130,000 people in 2008 in Myanmar (Burma).
Although it would be easy to vilify the globally unpopular military gov-
ernment of Myanmar and blame it for the atrocities, the reality is
much more complicated. The government clearly impeded relief

6 • CAN POOR COUNTRIES AFFORD TO PREPARE FOR LOW-PROBABILITY RISKS? 101

102 LEARNING FROM CATASTROPHES

operations in the first days after the storm due to a combination of
bureaucracy, paranoia, and paralysis; however, many other factors sug-
gest that blaming the Myanmar government alone would be simplistic.

First, the government’s meteorological department did issue
cyclone warnings, and the excellent international tropical cyclone
warning system functioned well, tracking the storm at sea for 6 days
and sending warnings from the regional center in India to Myanmar
48 hours in advance. It is unclear how many people living in the
Irrawaddy Delta actually received the warnings, but even if they had
received them, the poor roads, lack of transport, and extreme poverty
in the region would have prevented a mass evacuation. If a govern-
ment cannot afford schools, roads, or hospitals, how it is supposed to
protect its citizens from the ravages of nature?

Second, Cyclone Nargis was a highly unusual event, hitting a
part of the country that had not experienced cyclones for decades.2

Parts of Myanmar regularly experience cyclones, but the wide flat
floodplains along the Irrawaddy Delta had not faced a cyclone in
more than 40 years—indeed, the director of a U.S.-based weather
service called Nargis “one of those once-in-every-500-years kind of
things.”3 The storm surge quickly flooded the vast flat plains where
most of the population lives. Although there had been investment
in early warning for high-probability areas, similar investments
were not made in the delta because of the low probability of
cyclones. So how can a poor country prepare itself for events that
might not recur for decades?

Third, some experts claim the unusual trajectory and intensity of
Cyclone Nargis resulted from climate change. The Centre for Science
and Environment in India claimed that Nargis was “not just a natural
disaster, but a human-made disaster caused by climate change.”4

Although most scientists warn again labeling a single event a “sign” of
climate change (extreme, anomalistic events have always occurred),
clear consensus exists that the intensity of severe weather will
increase and that areas previously unaccustomed to cyclones, floods,
heat waves, and so on will face these threats.5 So, does the moral
responsibility for preparing a poor country like Myanmar from
climate-change-induced hazards lie with the poor country or with the

6 • CAN POOR COUNTRIES AFFORD TO PREPARE FOR LOW-PROBABILITY RISKS? 103

countries that created the greenhouse gases and caused climate
change?

Finally, some environmentalists pin Nargis’s high death toll on
the destruction of mangrove swamps for rice and shrimp farming;
whereas other experts say years of Western sanctions against the mil-
itary regime had only exacerbated poverty and driven the environ-
mental destruction as millions of desperately poor struggled to
survive. Therefore, protecting the most vulnerable from disasters—
especially low-probability disasters—is exceedingly complex.

State of Early Warning in Developing
Countries: High-Probability Events

Over the past 30 years, significant investment has been made in
early warning throughout the world. Advances in technology have
greatly increased our ability to predict many types of natural hazards.
Scientists have a much greater understanding of the earth’s weather
systems thanks to satellites, sensors, radar, and computer modeling.
Global cooperation has led to major improvements in short- and long-
term forecasting, with rich and poor countries working together to
share resources and knowledge. The global tropical cyclone6 warning
system described next is perhaps the best example of the benefits of
global technical and scientific collaboration in early warning.

Although there is room for improvement in nearly every early-
warning system, most countries have at least rudimentary ability to
provide warnings for high-probability events—events that have hap-
pened regularly in the past and are expected to continue. Many flood-
prone countries operate flood early-warning systems; most cyclone-prone
countries have strong early-warning systems in place; and drought
prone countries in Africa monitor rainfall and crop conditions to
sense the onset of drought before conditions lead to food insecurity
or famine.

For example, Bangladesh, Cuba, and Mozambique, although
some of the world’s poorest countries, have good early-warning
systems to cope with cyclones, which hit all three countries nearly

104 LEARNING FROM CATASTROPHES

every year. Each of the three countries has adopted cyclone-warning
systems tailored to their specific geographic, cultural, and political
situation. In all cases, the strength of their systems is based not only
on expensive technologies but also on the involvement of the vulner-
able populations themselves. Scientific knowledge that a cyclone is
developing in the ocean is meaningless unless there are also systems
to get the warnings out to at-risk populations. But even that is not
enough; vulnerable groups must have options available to protect
themselves when they receive the warning.

One of the reasons Bangladesh’s cyclone-warning system is
widely lauded is that it not only provides official warnings from
authorities and includes an extensive network of volunteers who com-
municate down to the village level, but the country has also built sev-
eral thousand cyclone shelters. The raised shelters provide
emergency accommodation in safe durable buildings not far from
people’s homes. Thousands of the poorest people in the poor nation
of Bangladesh now have a place to go when a cyclone hits. When the
massive Cyclone Sidr struck in November 2007, 3,400 people still
died, but an estimated 1.5 million people sought refuge in 2,168
cyclone shelters.7 The death of more than 3,000 people is a terrible
tragedy, the number of shelters is still woefully inadequate, and main-
tenance is a perpetual challenge, but without the option offered by
the shelters, the death toll would have been much higher.8

The cyclone early-warning systems in many other countries lack
this last component—options of last resort, especially for people who
do not have the means to evacuate or live in poor communities with
no sturdy buildings able to withstand the wind and rain of cyclones.
To advise people to evacuate when they have no vehicles, to take shel-
ter when they have no permanent buildings, or to seek higher ground
on a flat flood plain is of little value.

For high-probability events, successful models exist, and most
countries have implemented early-warning systems. Regional and
global collaboration assist governments with the information,
resources, and tools to build and continuously improve these sys-
tems. If this is true, then how could more than 200,000 people per-
ish in the Indian Ocean tsunami? The answer is simple: The tsunami
was a low-probability event.

6 • CAN POOR COUNTRIES AFFORD TO PREPARE FOR LOW-PROBABILITY RISKS? 105

This chapter argues against spending resources to establish
early-warning systems for low-probability events. Highly anomalis-
tic events will continue to happen, and it is impossible to be fully
prepared for every event that might happen once in 50 or 100 or
1,000 years. It is a poor use of scarce development resources to set
up a tsunami early-warning system in Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, or
Madagascar—all of which suffered minor impacts in the Indian
Ocean tsunami. It is well documented that early-warning systems
that are not activated regularly lose effectiveness and fall into
disrepair.9,10

State of Early Warning in Developing
Countries: Low-Probability Events

The challenges poor countries face in protecting their poorest citi-
zens from high-probability events are magnified in the case of low-
probability events. If Mozambique struggles to create and maintain
flood and cyclone early-warning systems despite the fact that it faces an
average of 3 cyclones every season and it has 11 international rivers
flowing through its soil, how can it possibly prepare for a tsunami that
might not occur in a lifetime? Should it use scarce resources to educate
its citizens about tsunamis or other low-probability events that may not
strike for decades or even centuries?

The tsunami early-warning system for the Pacific Ocean is more
than 40 years old. One of the drivers of the system was the 1960
Chilean earthquake, the most powerful instrumentally recorded in his-
tory. The resulting tsunami affected Chile, Hawaii, the Aleutian
Islands in Alaska, California, Samoa, Japan, the Philippines, New
Zealand, and Australia. Hilo, Hawaii, was one of the worst effected
cities, where waves as high as 35 feet were recorded.

Based outside of Honolulu, Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning
Center has provided dozens warnings for the Pacific Ocean countries.
Scientists continuously improve the system, tracking the effects of
underwater earthquakes and landslides to model the potential occur-
rence of tsunamis. But no system was in place in the Indian Ocean

106 LEARNING FROM CATASTROPHES

because tsunamis are relatively rare in that basin. In fact, as millions
of dollars were rushed into creating a tsunami early-warning system
for the Indian Ocean after the fact, some experts were suggesting the
money would be better spent creating a system for the Mediterranean
Sea—statistically more vulnerable to tsunamis than the Indian Ocean,
with 140 million people living near the shoreline, plus millions of
tourists visiting at any given moment. Some basic work has gone into
the Mediterranean tsunami early-warning system, mainly in terms of
data collection through ocean buoys, but little public outreach or edu-
cation has taken place.11 A large undersea earthquake triggering a
tsunami in the Mediterranean today could kill tens of thousands. Based
on probabilities and risk, additional investment in public education
about tsunamis in the Mediterranean is urgently needed.12

After a mega-disaster, there is a strong desire to “do something.”
Immediately after the Indian Ocean disaster, money was put into
tsunami early warning in Tanzania and other East African countries
that suffered only minor losses during the event and had never expe-
rienced a tsunami before. More than $10 million was requested for
tsunami-related activities in Somalia, for example. Such a reaction,
although understandable, is misguided. Money spent on single haz-
ard early-warning systems for low-probability events in poor coun-
tries could be better spent on general development activities that can
contribute to disaster preparedness: improved communications,
roads, education, building codes, and so forth.

High or Low Probability: How Climate
Change Is Changing the Nature of Risk

Risk assessment is considered the first step in risk management.
These risk calculations are often based on available historical data.
The most common type of probability calculations are “return peri-
ods” on flooding—calculations of how often a specific size of flood
occurs, based on data from the past 100 or more years. A rigorous
analysis of data can allow experts to classify floods as a “1 in 100-year
event” or a “1 in 10-year event” with some degree of confidence.

However, it is widely agreed that climate change is making fore-
casts based on historical data less relevant (although how much less

6 • CAN POOR COUNTRIES AFFORD TO PREPARE FOR LOW-PROBABILITY RISKS? 107

relevant remains unknown). The past is no longer an accurate predic-
tor of future events—floods are occurring more frequently and
impacting areas previously unaffected. Changes in temperature mean
that vector borne diseases such as malaria may spread to areas
previously free from the disease, unusual heat waves are affecting
Europe, and Australia is suffering severe drought and wild fires, for
example.

Climate change means risk-assessment methodologies must fac-
tor in a greater degree of uncertainty than simply an analysis of histor-
ical data. Increased uncertainty makes it that much more difficult to
label an event “high probability” or “low probability.” Some high-
probability events will become more extreme meaning an even
higher level of preparedness is needed. Some low-probability events
may happen more frequently or affect new areas, blurring the line
between high- and low-probability events.

Who Should Pay for Early Warning?
Just as natural hazards don’t discriminate between rich and poor,

they know no borders. The same hurricanes threaten Cuba, the
United States, and Mexico. Ashes from a volcano eruption in the
Philippines affect rainfall and weather patterns around the world.
Droughts in Africa cause people to cross borders in search of water
and food. Heavy rainfall in landlocked countries floods coastal com-
munities thousands of miles away. So while the state bears primary
role for early warning, responsibility and funding is rightly shared
from the global to the household level.

Arguably the best example of integrated early-warning system
with collaboration from the international to the household level is the
global cyclone early-warning system. The World Meteorological
Organization’s global operational network enables continuous obser-
vation, data exchange, and regional forecasting. Six regional special-
ized meteorological centers around the globe provide forecasts,
alerts, and bulletins to national meteorological services to all coun-
tries at risk with lead times of 24 to 72 hours. The national services
then issue warnings to government, media, and the general public
according to national protocols. Historical risk areas are well

108 LEARNING FROM CATASTROPHES

established (although historical patterns are becoming a less reliable
predictor, as demonstrated in the case of Myanmar), and five
Regional Tropical Cyclone Committees work continuously to
enhance forecasting skills of all members. Costs and responsibilities
are shared and the system works extremely well.

Global Collaboration

Global collaboration in early warning has been driven by both
humanitarian imperatives and self-interest. Often, the two are entan-
gled and difficult to separate. More technologically advanced coun-
tries may support enhanced flood or tsunami warning systems, but
they also sell river gauge or ocean-monitoring equipment, sophisti-
cated computer modeling capacity, and so on.

There is nothing inherently wrong with self-interest playing a role
in global collaboration on disasters—in fact, a greater recognition of
the potential benefits to richer countries can help increase invest-
ment in early warning and disaster risk reduction in poor countries.
Unmitigated disasters often lead to a downward spiral of poverty,
increased social inequities and tensions, and even migration. For
example, families lose their homes and assets in a hurricane or earth-
quake; they are forced to send family members on difficult and dan-
gerous journeys to find work abroad; and unskilled and uneducated
migrants may fail to find work and end up relying on social programs
in the host country or turning to illegal activities to survive and sup-
port family at home. Disaster risk-reduction and -mitigation efforts
can reduce this downward spiral.

Modeling of the global climate system has lead to significant
advances in understanding how sea surface temperatures (El Niño
and La Niña) affect seasonal weather patterns, which, in turn, has
important implications for drought, flood, and malaria early warning
in developing countries. Satellites launched into orbit for weather-
monitoring purposes in developed countries were inadvertently dis-
covered to have the capacity to monitor vegetative vigor on the
ground—which has become a key indicator for drought early warning
in Africa. River systems modeling developed in Japan and the United
States has been shared with developing countries where the under-
standing of rivers and flooding was nonexistent or rudimentary.

6 • CAN POOR COUNTRIES AFFORD TO PREPARE FOR LOW-PROBABILITY RISKS? 109

Regional Collaboration

Regional collaboration in early warning is generally weak,
especially in the developing world. There are a few examples of
regional bodies that successfully share information and resources,
leading to better early warning, such as CILSS (Comite Permanent
Inter-Etats de Lutte Contre la Secheresse) for drought in West Africa
and the Mekong Delta River Authority for flooding in Southeast
Asia. But there are many more cases where regional cooperation
is ineffective.

Flood monitoring in sub-Saharan Africa offers an example of how
the weaknesses in regional collaboration negatively impacts early-
warning efforts and increases people’s vulnerability. Many of Africa’s
river basins are international—meaning that rain falling in one country
will eventually find its way into rivers that pass through other coun-
tries, potentially causing flooding downstream even if there is no rain
locally. It is imperative for downstream communities to know how
much rain is falling upstream and how fast the rivers are rising, yet in
many cases, the information is not readily shared. Linking upstream
information with downstream communities can provide 48 to 72
hours’ warning of an impending flood and enough time to evacuate
their assets and move to higher ground. These types of upstream-to-
downstream linkages have been created in some places, notably in
Central America, but examples of multicountry collaboration in con-
tributing to regional early warning are few.

One reason regional collaboration is weak may be a lack of
perceived self-interest. Using the flood early-warning example, four
Southern African countries share the Limpopo river basin, yet all of
the water eventually flows through Mozambique into the Indian
Ocean, presenting regular flood risks to communities living near the
river’s mouth. Even though the flood risk is only in Mozambique,
most of the catchment area is in South Africa, with small parts in
Botswana and Zimbabwe.13 For South Africa, heavy rainfall in the
high elevation catchment areas has little national impact and only lim-
ited local impact. South Africa may accept it has a humanitarian
imperative to help its poorer neighbor (its military has dispatched hel-
icopters to rescue Mozambicans stranded by floodwaters in 2000), but
when South Africa itself has countless internal demands for improved

110 LEARNING FROM CATASTROPHES

housing, health care, and schools, should it prioritize the establish-
ment of an extensive network of rainfall gauges for the main benefit of
its neighbor?

State’s Responsibility

The World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan, in
January 2005 released the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015:
Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities (HFA).14 The
HFA placed the primary responsibility for implementation of early
warning and disaster risk reduction on national governments. Ensur-
ing its citizens’ safety is a primary responsibility of government, and
national leadership and ownership are keys to effective early warning
and early action.

Even poor countries can mount effective early-warning systems
for high-probability events. The example of Cuba’s hurricane early-
warning system illustrates this clearly. The country is hit by hurri-
canes nearly every year, yet the fatalities in storms are usually far
fewer than on neighboring islands. A combination of effective gov-
ernment planning, annual simulation exercises, and citizen responsi-
bility ensures everyone is aware of a storm’s approach and knows
exactly how to respond.15 Yet nearby Haiti suffers immensely from
storms, and its government is ill equipped to protect its citizens. The
lack of government preparedness coupled with decades of deforesta-
tion has resulted in uncontrolled landslides and flooding, further
exacerbating the problem and making its population even poorer (in
fact, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere).

When a state lacks human or financial resources to protect its cit-
izens or lacks the commitment, what can and should the global com-
munity do to protect the most vulnerable? This issue is addressed in
the final section.

Community Responsibility

In the last decade, significant advances have been made in rec-
ognizing a community’s responsibility for protecting themselves
from disasters. Even the most vulnerable communities should not
be seen as helpless victims of a natural disaster but as the group with
the largest vested interest in early warning and early action.

6 • CAN POOR COUNTRIES AFFORD TO PREPARE FOR LOW-PROBABILITY RISKS? 111

Empowering communities to help themselves prevent and mitigate
disasters is many times more effective than any other form of risk
reduction.

Initial advances in early warning had a strongly scientific bias.
Investments were made in technological solutions without much
practical thought about how communities would be warned and how
they would react to warnings. This mistake is still being made as
evidenced by the lack of progress over the past few years in building
a tsunami early-warning system for the Mediterranean. Almost no
resources have been devoted to educating the millions of people
who live near the shores of the Mediterranean about how to recog-
nize a tsunami and what actions to take. This is a disaster waiting to
happen—the threat exists, and little has been done to mitigate the
risks for the vulnerable people.

Community involvement in early warning and early action must
incorporate three levels of preparedness:

1. Communities need to understand their risks. All people,
not just those in developing countries, misjudge their risks
because they don’t have an objective basis for assessing them
over a long time frame. When a catastrophic, low-probability
hazard occurs, like the Indian Ocean tsunami, people along
coastlines worldwide overestimate their risk of another event.
Communities living in floodplains generally have a good con-
ception of how often small, medium, or large floods occur—but
if a large devastating flood occurred recently, they often overes-
timate their risks.

It has been believed that bringing scientific data on historical
disaster patterns (100-year records of rainfall or cyclone tracks)
together with local knowledge about past events gathered from
older residents or collective memory was the best way to assess
risks. However, with climate change, there is a new challenge:
Those historical records or stories passed down over genera-
tions may no longer predict future frequency or intensity. There
is evidence in the Mozambique floods of 2000, for example, that
people were warned on radio the impending floods would be “a
major flood,” which community elders interpreted to mean sim-
ilar in magnitude to the floods experienced in the early 1900s.16

112 LEARNING FROM CATASTROPHES

However, the floods vastly exceeded floods in anyone’s living
memory.

It is essential that communities map their own knowledge of
prior events, incorporate any available data on historical events,
but also understand that climate change adds a level of uncer-
tainty never before experienced. The past is no longer an accu-
rate guide to the future of disaster events.

2. Communities need to understand warnings from out-
side, and their local knowledge needs to be shared and
assessed scientifically. Warnings may be shared from national
authorities down to community level, but insufficient analysis
has been carried out on how the messages are perceived. In
some cases, messages may lack specificity (“floods are likely
along the Mekong”) or be overly technical (“a Category 3 cyclone
with maximum sustained winds of 150km/hour will hit between
2100 and 2300 hours tomorrow”). Although these messages
provide a basic level of alert, they are unlikely to engender any
actions from the vulnerable populations—unless they have
confirming evidence from traditional warning indicators.

Almost all communities have “traditional” hazard warnings
embedded in their culture. In developing countries, many of
these warning signs are based on animal behavior including
birds singing at unusual times of day, monkeys or small animals
fleeing an area, or livestock refusing to approach shorelines.17

In the past, local knowledge about early warning signs has been
largely dismissed as unscientific, but it is increasingly clear that
local knowledge can complement technical warnings. For
example, in Mozambique, downstream communities watch the
color of the river water and the size and type of debris floating
down to judge the magnitude of a potential flood.

In Simeuleu, an island off the coast of Indonesia only about 100
kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake that triggered
the tsunami, only 7 people of a total population of 83,000 were
killed. The island had suffered from a tsunami in 1907 and
knowledge of the warning signs—especially the ocean receding
after an earthquake—had been passed from generation to
generation through songs and poems. Instead of dismissing this

6 • CAN POOR COUNTRIES AFFORD TO PREPARE FOR LOW-PROBABILITY RISKS? 113

local knowledge, it should be studied and integrated into
warning systems as appropriate.

3. Communities need to have options if a warning is
sounded. Although this step sounds obvious, it has received
remarkably little attention by practitioners and is a missing
link in many early-warning systems in developing countries.
In the case of Cyclone Nargis, for example, even if risk assess-
ments had been carried out and warnings had been received
by all people living in the Irrawaddy Delta, there would …

Introduction to International
Disaster Management

Third Edition

Damon P. Coppola

AMSTERDAM • BOSTON • HEIDELBERG • LONDON

NEW YORK • OXFORD • PARIS • SAN DIEGO

SAN FRANCISCO • SINGAPORE • SYDNEY • TOKYO

Butterworth-Heinemann is an imprint of Elsevier

1Introduction to International Disaster Management. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-801477-6.00001-0
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER

THE MANAGEMENT
OF DISASTERS 1
CHAPTER SUMMARIES

Disasters have adversely affected humans since the dawn of our existence. In response, individuals and societies

alike have made many attempts to decrease their exposure to the consequences of these disasters. All of these

efforts have the same goal: disaster management. The motivating concepts that guide disaster management—the

reduction of harm to life, property, and the environment—are largely the same throughout the world. Whether due

to political, cultural, economic, or other reasons, the unfortunate reality is that some countries and some regions

are more capable than others at addressing the problem. Furthermore, the emergence of a global economy makes

it increasingly difficult to contain the consequences of any disaster within one country’s borders. This chapter

examines basic concepts of disaster management and expands upon those concepts to specifically address the

management of international disasters, which is a complex discipline. Like disaster management on the national

level, it involves actions that seek to mitigate the effects of hazards, ensures that populations are prepared for

disasters should they occur, facilitates the response to disasters that do occur, and helps nations and people recover

in the months and years following disaster events. The chapter provides a brief history of disaster management. To

illustrate the disparity in the effects of disasters around the world, an examination of the global impact of disasters

has also been carried out.

Key Terms: civil defense; complex humanitarian emergency; disaster; disaster management; disaster trends;

emergency management; history of emergency management; mitigation; preparedness response; recovery.

INTRODUCTION

Disasters have adversely affected humans since the dawn of our existence. In response, individuals

and societies alike have made many attempts to decrease their exposure to the consequences of these

disasters, developing measures to address initial impact as well as post-disaster response and recov-

ery needs. Regardless of the approach adopted, all of these efforts have the same goal: disaster

management.

The motivating concepts that guide disaster management—the reduction of harm to life, property,

and the environment—are largely the same throughout the world. However, the capacity to carry out

this mission is by no means uniform. Whether due to political, cultural, economic, or other reasons,

the unfortunate reality is that some countries and some regions are more capable than others at

addressing the problem. But no nation, regardless of its wealth or influence, is advanced enough to

be fully immune from disasters’ negative effects. Furthermore, the emergence of a global economy

makes it more and more difficult to contain the consequences of any disaster within one country’s

borders.

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS2

This chapter examines basic concepts of disaster management and expands upon those concepts to

specifically address the management of international disasters. A brief history of disaster management

is provided for context. To illustrate the disparity in the effects of disasters around the world, an exami-

nation of the global impact of disasters follows. Finally, several relevant terms used throughout this text

are defined.

DISASTERS THROUGHOUT HISTORY

Disasters are not merely ornamental or interesting events that adorn our collective historical record—

these disruptions have served to guide and shape it. Entire civilizations have been decimated in an

instant. Time and time again, epidemics and pandemics have resulted in sizable reductions of the

world’s population, as much as 50 percent across Europe during the fourteenth century bubonic plague

(Black Plague) pandemic. Theorists have even ventured to suggest that many of history’s great civiliza-

tions, including the Mayans, the Norse, the Minoans, and the Old Egyptian Empire, were ultimately

brought to their knees not by their enemies but by the effects of floods, famines, earthquakes, tsunamis,

El Niño events, and other widespread disasters (Fagan 1999). A worldwide drought in the eighth and

ninth centuries, caused by shifts in the yearly monsoons and resulting in mass crop failure and subse-

quent starvation, is now believed to have been behind the fall of both the Mayan empire in Mexico and

the Tang dynasty in China (Sheridan 2007). From a modern perspective, each of the catastrophic events

that has occurred as of late, including the December 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami (over 230,000

killed), the 2005 Kashmir earthquake (80,000 killed), the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China (68,000

killed), the 2008 Cyclone Nargis (135,000 killed), the 2010 Haiti earthquake (perhaps as many as

200,000 killed), and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (16,000 killed) might seem anomalous, but

these disastrous events are not close to record-breaking, or even unique, in the greater historical context.

(See table 1.1.)

Table 1.1 Selected Notable Disasters throughout History

Disaster Year Number Killed

Mediterranean earthquake (Egypt and Syria) 1201 1,100,000

Shaanxi earthquake (China) 1556 830,000

Calcutta typhoon (India) 1737 300,000

Caribbean hurricane (Martinique, St. Eustatius, Barbados) 1780 22,000

Tamboro volcano (Indonesia) 1815 80,000

Influenza epidemic (world) 1917 20,000,000

Yangtze River flood (China) 1931 3,000,000

Famine (Russia) 1932 5,000,000

Bangladesh cyclone (Bangladesh) 1970 300,000

Tangshan earthquake (China) 1976 655,000

Source: St. Louis University, 1997; NBC News, 2004.

3 THE HISTORY OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT

THE HISTORY OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT

ANCIENT HISTORY

Hazards, and the disasters that often result, have not always existed. To qualify as a hazard, an action,

event, or object must maintain a positive likelihood of affecting humans or possibly have a consequence

that may adversely affect humans’ existence. Until humans existed on the planet, neither the likelihood

nor the consequence factors of hazards were calculable; thus their presence is negated.

With the appearance of humans, however, followed the incidence of hazards and disasters. Archeo-

logical discovery has shown that our prehistoric ancestors faced many of the same risks that exist today:

starvation, inhospitable elements, dangerous wildlife, violence at the hands of other humans, disease,

accidental injuries, and more. These early inhabitants did not, however, sit idly by and become easy

victims. Evidence indicates that they took measures to reduce, or mitigate, their risks. The mere fact

that they chose to inhabit caves is testament to this theory.

Various applications of disaster management appear throughout the historical record. The story of

Noah’s ark from the Old Testament, for example, is a lesson in the importance of warning, prepared-

ness, and mitigation. In this tale, believed to be based at least partly on actual events, Noah is warned

of an approaching flood. He and his family prepare for the impending disaster by constructing a floating

ark. The protagonist in this story even attempts to mitigate the impact on the planet’s biodiversity by

collecting two of each species and placing them within the safety of the ark. These individuals are

rewarded for their actions by surviving the disastrous flood. Those who did not perform similar actions,

the story tells us, perished.

Evidence of risk management practices can be found as early as 3200 BC. In what is now modern-

day Iraq lived a social group known as the Asipu. When community members faced a difficult decision,

especially one involving risk or danger, they could appeal to the Asipu for advice. The Asipu, using a

process similar to modern-day hazards risk management, would first analyze the problem at hand, then

propose several alternatives, and finally give possible outcomes for each alternative (Covello and

Mumpower 1985). Today, this methodology is referred to as decision analysis, and it is key to any

comprehensive risk management endeavor.

Early history is also marked by incidents of organized emergency response. For example, when in

AD 79 the volcano Vesuvius began erupting, two towns in its shadow—Herculaneum and Pompeii—

faced an impending catastrophe. Although Herculaneum, which was at the foot of the volcano and

therefore directly in the path of its lava flow, was buried almost immediately, the majority of Pompeii’s

population survived. This was because the citizens of Pompeii had several hours before the volcano

covered their city in ash, and evidence suggests that the city’s leaders organized a mass evacuation. The

few who refused to leave suffered the ultimate consequence, and today lie as stone impressions in an

Italian museum.

MODERN ROOTS

All-hazards disaster and emergency management, wherein a comprehensive approach is applied to

address most or all of a community’s hazard risks, are relatively new. However, many of the concepts

that guide today’s practice can be traced to the achievements of past civilizations. While the manage-

ment of disasters during the past few thousand years was limited to single acts or programs addressing

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS4

individual hazards, many of these accomplishments were quite organized, comprehensive, and surpris-

ingly effective at reducing both human suffering and damage to the built environment. See the follow-

ing examples.

Floods have always confounded human settlements. However, archeologists have found evidence in

several distinct and unrelated locations that early civilizations made attempts to formally address the

flood hazard. One of the most celebrated of these attempts occurred in Egypt during the reign of

Amenemhet III (1817–1722 BC). Amenemhet III created what has been described as history’s first

substantial river control project. Using a system of over 200 “water wheels,” some of which remain to

this day, the pharaoh effectively diverted the annual floodwaters of the Nile River into Lake Moeris. In

doing so, the Egyptians were able to reclaim over 153,000 acres of fertile land that would have otherwise

served no use (Quarantelli 1995; ESIS n.d.).

The roots of the modern fire department trace back 2,000 years to when the city of Rome was nearly

destroyed by fire. Before this event, slaves had been tasked with fighting fires, and their poor training, lack

of equipment, and understandable lack of motivation made them highly ineffective. Following the great

fire, Emperor Augustus established a formal, city-wide firefighting unit from within the Roman army

called the Corps of Vigiles. As a result, the firefighting profession became highly respected and, likewise,

highly effective, and was emulated throughout the vast Roman Empire for 500 years. The structure of this

organization was quite similar to many fire departments today, with members filling job-specific roles.

(See exhibit 1.1.) With the fall of Rome, however, came the disappearance of the Corps of Vigiles, and

organized firefighting did not appear anywhere in the world for another 1,000 years.

The Incas, who lived throughout the Andes region in South America during the thirteenth to fif-

teenth centuries, practiced a form of urban planning that focused on their need to defend themselves

from enemy attack. Many of the Incan cities were located at the peaks of rugged, although easily defen-

sible, mountains. The prime example of their architectural achievement is the fortress of Machu Picchu.

However, in locating their cities upon mountaintops and other similar areas, the Incas merely replaced

one man-made hazard with a whole range of environmental hazards. To facilitate life on this extreme

terrain, the Incas developed an innovative form of land terracing that not only conserved water in their

unpredictable climate but also protected their crops—and thus their existence—from the landslides that

occurred during periods of heavy precipitation.

As later eras are examined, still more examples of methods created to address specific hazards

and their consequences emerge. One of the greatest and most effective forms of disaster mitigation

in history is the collective effort of the British and Indian governments, which sought to reduce

Indians’ annual suffering and starvation that occurred as a result of regular drought patterns. These

famines became so devastating during the late nineteenth century that up to a million people were

dying of starvation each year. A government study found that sufficient food existed throughout

EXHIBIT 1.1 JOB TITLES WITHIN THE ROMAN CORPS OF VIGILES

Aquarius: The firefighter whose main duties were the supply of water to the siphos or pumps and the organization of

“bucket chains.”

Siphonarius: The firefighter who was responsible for the supervision and operation of the water pumps.

Uncinarius: The firefighter who was a “hook” man, who carried a large fire hook for pulling off burning roofs.

Source: FFCA, 2014.

5 THE HISTORY OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT

the country to feed the nation’s entire population at all times, but insufficient capacity to distribute

these resources led to location-specific shortages. To address these problems, planning committees

were formed to develop various preventive measures, including a rapid expansion of the extensive

railway system that crisscrosses the country (to quickly transport food), the adoption of a method

by which indicators of emerging needs were identified and logged in a central repository, and

greater monitoring of public health. So effective at controlling famine were these measures that

many remain in force today. How much of a positive role was played by India’s acclaimed railroad,

which connects almost every settlement nationwide, continues to be debated. (Keniston 2007;

Sweeney 2008).

CIVIL DEFENSE: THE BIRTH OF MODERN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

There is no global formula that explains how the countries of the world developed their disaster

management capacities. However, there is one particular period in recent history that witnessed the

greatest overall move toward a centralized safeguarding of citizens—the Civil Defense era. (See

figure 1.1.)

FIGURE 1.1

Civil defense era poster, Pennsylvania, United States.

Source: Library of Congress, 2000.

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS6

Modern disaster management, in terms of the emergence of global standards and organized efforts

to address preparedness, mitigation, and response activities for a wide range of disasters, did not begin

to emerge until the mid-twentieth century. In most countries, this change materialized as a response to

specific disaster events. At the same time, it was further galvanized by a shift in social philosophy, in

which the government played an increasing role in preventing and responding to disasters. The legal

foundation that allowed for such a shift was the result of advances in warfare technology.

In response to the threat posed by air raids and the ever-present and dreadful prospect of a nuclear

attack, many industrialized nations’ governments began to form elaborate systems of civil defense.

These systems included detection mechanisms, early warning alarms, hardened shelters, search and

rescue teams, and local and regional coordinators. Most nations’ legislatures also established legal

frameworks to guide both the creation and maintenance of these systems through the passage of

laws, the creation of national-level civil defense organizations, and the allocation of funding and

personnel.

Despite these impressive efforts, surprisingly few civil defense units evolved over time into more

comprehensive disaster or emergency management organizations (Quarantelli 1995). But the legal

framework developed to support them remained in place and formed the basis for modern disaster and

emergency management as we know it today. For example:

• Great Britain’s disaster management agency traces its roots to the Civil Defense Act of 1948.

• Canada’s Office of Critical Infrastructure Preparedness and Emergency Preparedness (OCIPEP)

grew out of the Canadian Civil Defense Organization created in 1948.

• The United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grew out of the Federal

Civil Defense Act of 1950.

• France’s civil protection is a product of that nation’s 1950 Ordinance and the 1965 Decree Relat-

ing to Civil Defense.

• Algeria Civil Protection grew out of the 1964 Decree on the Administrative Organization of Civil

Defense.

CAPACITY BY DEMAND: THE 1970S AND ‘80S

National emergency management capacity began to take a more centralized role in the 1970s and ‘80s

as countries focused on the creation of national-level emergency management systems. Many devel-

oped their disaster management capabilities out of necessity and an acceptance of the need to formalize

both the authority and budget for an agency to address blatant disaster risk. Other countries formed

their disaster management structures not for civil defense, but after being spurred into action by popular

criticism for poor management of a natural disaster (e.g., Peru in 1970, Nicaragua in 1972, and

Guatemala in 1976 following destructive earthquakes in each country).

And yet others, to a diminishing degree, still have no real emergency management structure to speak

of, irrespective of their disaster history.

THE INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR NATURAL DISASTER REDUCTION

On December 11, 1987, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 1990s to be the “Interna-

tional Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction” (IDNDR). This action was taken to promote internation-

ally coordinated efforts to reduce material losses and social and economic disruption caused by natural

7 CAPACITY BY DEMAND: THE 1970S AND ‘80S

disasters, especially in developing countries, through capacity building. On December 22, 1989,

through UN Resolution 44/236, the General Assembly set forth the goals they wished to achieve during

the Decade. In addition to establishing a special UN office in Geneva to coordinate associated activi-

ties, the resolution directed the various UN agencies to:

• improve the capacity of each country to mitigate the effects of natural disasters expeditiously and

effectively, paying special attention to assisting developing countries in the assessment of disaster

damage potential and in the establishment of early warning systems and disaster-resistant struc-

tures when and where needed;

• devise appropriate guidelines and strategies for applying existing scientific and technical knowl-

edge, taking into account the cultural and economic diversity among nations;

• foster scientific and engineering endeavors aimed at closing critical gaps in knowledge in order to

reduce loss of life and property;

• disseminate existing and new technical information related to measures for the assessment, pre-

diction, and mitigation of natural disasters;

• develop measures for the assessment, prediction, prevention, and mitigation of natural disasters

through programmes of technical assistance and technology transfer, demonstration projects, and

education and training, tailored to specific disasters and locations, and to evaluate the effective-

ness of those programs. (United Nations 1989)

It was expected that all participating governments would, at the national level:

• formulate national disaster-mitigation programmes, as well as economic, land use, and insurance

policies for disaster prevention, and particularly in developing countries, to integrate them fully

into their national development programmes;

• participate during the [IDNDR] in concerted international action for the reduction of natural disas-

ters and, as appropriate, establish national committees in cooperation with the relevant scientific

and technological communities and other concerned sectors with a view to attaining the objective

and goals of the Decade;

• encourage their local administrations to take appropriate steps to mobilize the necessary sup-

port from the public and private sectors and to contribute the achievement of the purposes of the

Decade;

• keep the Secretary-General informed of the plans of their countries and of assistance that can

be provided so that the United Nations may become an international centre for the exchange of

information and the coordination of international efforts concerning activities in support of the

objective and goals of the Decade, thus enabling each State to benefit from the experience of other

countries;

• take measures, as appropriate, to increase public awareness of damage risk probabilities and of the

significance of preparedness, prevention, relief, and short-term recovery activities with respect to

natural disasters, and to enhance community preparedness through education, training, and other

means, taking into account the specific role of the news media;

• pay due attention to the impact of natural disasters on healthcare, particularly to activities to

reduce the vulnerability of hospitals and health centres, as well as the impact on food storage

facilities, human shelter, and other social and economic infrastructure;

• improve the early international availability of appropriate emergency supplies through the storage

or earmarking of such supplies in disaster-prone areas. (United Nations 1989)

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS8

THE YOKOHAMA STRATEGY – GLOBAL RECOGNITION OF THE NEED FOR DISASTER
MANAGEMENT

In May 1994, UN member states met at the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction in

Yokohama, Japan, to assess the progress attained by the IDNDR. At this meeting, they developed the

Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World. Through this document, the UN affirmed that:

1. Impact of natural disasters in terms of human and economic losses has risen in recent years, and

society in general has become more vulnerable to natural disasters. Those usually most affected

by natural and other disasters are the poor and socially disadvantaged groups in developing

countries, as they are least equipped to cope with them.

2. Disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and relief are four elements which contribute to

and gain from the implementation of sustainable development policies. These elements, along

with environmental protection and sustainable development, are closely interrelated. Therefore,

nations should incorporate them in their development plans and ensure efficient follow-up mea-

sures at the community, national, subregional, regional, and international levels.

3. Disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness are better than disaster response in achiev-

ing [disaster reduction] goals. . . . Disaster response alone is not sufficient, as it yields only

temporary results at a very high cost. We have followed this limited approach for too long. This

has been further demonstrated by the recent focus on response to complex emergencies, which,

although compelling, should not divert from pursuing a comprehensive approach. Prevention

contributes to lasting improvement in safety and is essential to integrated disaster management.

4. The world is increasingly interdependent. All countries shall act in a new spirit of partnership to

build a safer world based on common interests and shared responsibility to save human lives, since

natural disasters do not respect borders. Regional and international cooperation will significantly

enhance our ability to achieve real progress in mitigating disasters through the transfer of technol-

ogy and the sharing of information and joint disaster prevention and mitigation activities. Bilateral

and multilateral assistance and financial resources should be mobilized to support these efforts.

5. The information, knowledge, and some of the technology necessary to reduce the effects of

natural disasters can be available in many cases at low cost and should be applied. Appropriate

technology and data, with the corresponding training, should be made available to all freely and

in a timely manner, particularly to developing countries.

6. Community involvement and their active participation should be encouraged to gain greater

insight into the individual and collective perception of development and risk, and to have a clear

understanding of the cultural and organizational characteristics of each society as well as of its

behaviour and interactions with the physical and natural environment. This knowledge is of the

utmost importance to determine those things which favour and hinder prevention and mitigation

or encourage or limit the preservation of the environment for the development of future genera-

tions, and in order to find effective and efficient means to reduce the impact of disasters.

7. The adopted Yokohama Strategy and related Plan of Action for the rest of the Decade and

beyond:

a. Will note that each country has the sovereign responsibility to protect its citizens from natu-

ral disasters;

b. Will give priority attention to the developing countries, in particular the least developed,

land-locked countries and the small island developing States;

9 CAPACITY BY DEMAND: THE 1970S AND ‘80S

c. Will develop and strengthen national capacities and capabilities and, where appropriate,

national legislation for natural and other disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness,

including the mobilization of non-governmental organizations and participation of local

communities;

d. Will promote and strengthen subregional, regional, and international cooperation in activities

to prevent, reduce, and mitigate natural and other disasters, with particular emphasis on:

– Human and institutional capacity-building and strengthening;

– Technology sharing, the collection, the dissemination, and the utilization of information;

– Mobilization of resources.

8. The international community and the United Nations system in particular must provide adequate

support to [natural disaster reduction].

9. The Yokohama Conference is at a crossroad in human progress. In one direction lie the

meagre results of an extraordinary opportunity given to the United Nations and its Member

States. In the other direction, the United Nations and the world community can change

the course of events by reducing the suffering from natural disasters. Action is urgently

needed.

10. Nations should view the Yokohama Strategy for a Safer World as a call to action, individually

and in concert with other nations, to implement policies and goals reaffirmed in Yokohama, and

to use the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction as a catalyst for change. (ISDR

1994)

The participating member states accepted the following principles to be applied to disaster manage-

ment within their own countries. The tenth and final principle formalized the requirement that each

nation’s government accept responsibility for protecting its people from the consequences of

disasters:

1. Risk assessment is a required step for the adoption of adequate and successful disaster reduction

policies and measures.

2. Disaster prevention and preparedness are of primary importance in reducing the need for disaster

relief.

3. Disaster prevention and preparedness should be considered integral aspects of development

policy and planning at national, regional, bilateral, multilateral, and international levels.

4. Development and strengthening of capacities to prevent, reduce, and mitigate disasters [are] top

priority area[s] to be addressed during the Decade so as to provide a strong basis for follow-up

activities [after that period].

5. Early warnings of impending disasters and their effective dissemination using telecommu-

nications, including broadcast services, are key factors to successful disaster prevention and

preparedness.

6. Preventive measures are most effective when they involve participation at all levels, from the

local community through the national government to the regional and international levels.

7. Vulnerability can be reduced by the application of proper design and patterns of development

focused on target groups by appropriate education and training of the whole community.

8. The international community accepts the need to share the necessary technology to prevent,

reduce, and mitigate disaster; this should be made freely available and in a timely manner as an

integral part of technical cooperation.

CHAPTER 1 THE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS10

9. Environmental …

error: Content is protected !!