Issues in the Developing World
Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 8: Sources of Disaster Vulnerability of the Urban Poor: Issues and Views
J. Pantelic and B. Srdanovic Introduction The first decade of the millennium was marked by an unusually high number of massive disasters: from the devastating earthquakes in Gujarat, India, in January 2001, and another one in 2003 in Bam, Iran, the catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Katrina in the United States and Kashmir earthquake in 2005, to the cyclonic tidal wave in Myanmar, and the Sichuan earthquake in China in 2008, and possibly the worst of all, at the close of the decade, the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Of the ten deadliest disasters since 1975, five happened in the period since 2003 (UNISDR, 2009). More significantly, the majority of these extreme disasters took place in the less developed world or the so-called South. This is not to say that the South is plagued with natural hazards while other parts of the world are not. Statistical data collected and analyzed before this last spate of catastrophes indicate that the poorest countries of the South represent only 11 per cent of the population exposed to hazards, but account for 53 per cent of the casualties (Peduzzi et al., 2009). In other words, natural hazard events are not more frequent in the South than elsewhere, but when they happen they are much deadlier. The difference in the scope and degree of adversity suffered by the people of the poorest countries as opposed to those living in the more developed world is quite stark. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent...
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