Natural Hazards And Their Effect On Rich And Poor Countries

2589 words - 10 pages

Natural Hazards and Their Effect on Rich and Poor Countries 'Poor countries are more at risk from natural hazards than rich
countries.'

For this question to be answered the meaning of the word "risk" needs
to be considered carefully. It may be referring to the risk of loss of
lives or money. Perhaps it is referring to geographical location
creating more or less of a risk. Natural hazards can cause direct
risks and indirect risks. It can have a wide range of interpretations,
so therefore each of them need to be carefully considered.

It is important to understand why people live in these "risky" areas.
Understanding of this is a key issue into understanding the difference
between rich and poor countries. As natural hazards are fairly
unpredictable, many people feel it is not going to occur during their
lifetime and therefore they take the risk. Some of these people are
happy to take the risk, and think of it as a kind of "Russian
Roulette" and consider it to be almost destiny. In Economically Less
Developed Countries (ELDC's) there is often a lack of alternatives due
to rapidly increasing populations so they are forced to live on fault
lines, or unstable slopes. Rapid urbanisation creates unstable
populations in urban areas, forcing people to live on marginal land
illegally. Also the danger and therefore the risk of natural hazards
are always changing due to climatic change and deforestation (both
caused by human interference to a degree) and perhaps this means that
land use plans are not up to date. Finally the resources or benefits
of living in hazardous areas outweigh the risks. For example,
California where 30 million people live and benefit from the high
standards of living in the state, although it is a high risk
earthquake zone.

Disasters from Natural Hazards occur in all countries. Natural hazards
include floods, droughts, landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes,
tornadoes, famines and volcanoes. Each of these has different triggers
and different affects on populations. A disaster is when hazardous
events and vulnerable populations overlap. This produces a disaster.
There have always been definitions attempting to describe what
"disaster losses" were. In 1969, Sheenan and Hewitt defined it to have
satisfied one or more of the criteria in Table 1:

1969: Swiss and Hewitt Definition

1990: Swiss Reinsurance Company Definition

At least US$1 000 000 damage

Insured damage of at least US$16.2 million

At least 100 people injured

At least 20 people killed

At least 100 people dead

Table 1: What is a "disaster"?

The more recent definition by the Swiss Reinsurance Company needed
either or both of the consequences to...

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