Linking mitigation to regional economic development
The unprecedented scale and complexity of the relief and reconstruction efforts following the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman Island earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami have motivated scientists, policy-makers, and development aid organizations to rethink the relationship between natural disaster mitigation and economic development. Two recent reports by the World Bank and the United Nations quantify the global exposure of populations and economic activity to natural hazards. By casting mortality and economic loss in geographic terms, both studies have provided baseline arguments for linking disaster losses to other factors inhibiting economic growth, and for linking hazard mitigation to strategies for sustainable development.
However, the global analysis undertaken in these projects is clearly limited by issues of scale as well as by the availability and quality of data. For some hazards, there exist only 15- to 25-year global records with relatively crude spatial information. Data on historical disaster losses, and particularly on economic losses, are also limited. Nevertheless it is possible to assess in general terms the exposure and potential magnitude of losses to people and their assets in these areas. Such information, although not ideal, can still be very useful for informing a range of disaster prevention and preparedness measures, including prioritization of resources, targeting of more localized and detailed risk assessments, implementation of risk-based disaster management and emergency response strategies, and development of long-term plans for poverty reduction and economic development.
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