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Reducing Risk: Sustainability in the Third World. Session 40. Session Objectives. Understand the impacts of disasters on developing countries and how these impacts also affect the U.S. Understand the relationships between poverty and sustainability

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Reducing Risk: Sustainability in the Third World

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Reducing risk sustainability in the third world

Reducing Risk: Sustainability in theThird World

Session 40


Session objectives

Session Objectives

  • Understand the impacts of disasters on developing countries and how these impacts also affect the U.S.

  • Understand the relationships between poverty and sustainability

  • Understand effects of international development and debt management programs on disaster vulnerability

  • Understand critiques of international development programs

  • Be able to place Third World risk reduction strategies in the context of an understanding of international development efforts


Impact of disasters on developing countries

Impact of Disasters on Developing Countries

  • Most deaths from disasters triggered by extreme events take place in the Third World

  • Most human lives lost in disasters are those of people living in Third World countries of Asia, Latin America, and Africa

  • The cost of these disasters is less in absolute dollar terms than in industrialized countries, but are large in relation to the size of their respective economies and set back development efforts


Why should the u s be concerned with reducing risk in the third world

Moral reasons

Concern with saving lives

Others are more likely to assist the U.S. if it assists others

Political reasons

Some of the countries are allies, or are important to allies

Sometimes there are international treaty obligations

U.S. is concerned with regional security

Large number of U.S. citizens with families live in many of the countries

Citizen groups concerned with foreign interests in the U.S. constitute voting blocks

Economic reasons

U.S. corporations may have facilities in the affected countries

U.S. may import an important or strategic commodity from the affected country

U.S. banks may have outstanding loans to business or governments entities in the affected countries

U.S. engineering and other companies may find lucrative contracts in the process of recovery

Scientific reasons

Helps scientists understand how to protect the U.S. from these kinds of extreme events

The study of disasters helps protect the U.S. population

Why Should the U.S. be Concerned with Reducing Risk in the Third World?


Economic effects of disasters

Economic Effects of Disasters

  • Lower, and more erratic, yields of crops

  • Lower weight gain by livestock

  • Distress sales during bad years mean lower prices

  • Economic distress means indebtedness at high interest rates and potentially loss of land

  • Little money for education of children

  • Poor diet and health care

  • Under nutrition and poor health reduce working capacity

  • More labor time (usually female) spent seeking water and fuel

  • Fewer environmental amenities and goods with which to provide supplementary, non-farm income


Health and welfare effects of disasters

Disease transmission

Degraded or marginal environment may harbor insect vectors of disease

Isolated forest margin residence can expose humans to virulent retroviruses

Lack of water can expose people to disease

Exposure to unprotected sources of surface water can expose humans to disease

Dust storms and low humidity is associated with spread of meningitis

Disease increases poverty, by:

Reducing the ability work

Increasing the amount of money used for health care and funeral expenses

Diverting labor time to care for the ill and disabled

Encouraging frequent pregnancies to make up for high infant and child mortality, diverting women’s labor time from production and depleting their energy

Health and Welfare Effects of Disasters


Poverty decreases sustainability through technology

Poverty Decreases Sustainability Through Technology

  • Overuse of land reduces natural fertility

  • Overuse of limited pasture allows erosion

  • Limited land and pasture make it difficult to set aside land as fallow

  • Clearing of steeper slopes for farming or grazing allows water erosion

  • Reliance on limited wood fuel resources accelerates deforestation

  • Production of charcoal for urban markets accelerates deforestation

  • Inability to use production technologies that abate pollution

  • Inability to afford disposal of solid wastes from production


Poverty decreases sustainability through economics

Poverty Decreases Sustainability Through Economics

  • Inability to afford more concentrated energy forms results in the poor using less dense, less efficient forms

  • Reliant on short-term crops for ready cash, farmers cannot afford to plant tree crops that would anchor the soil

  • Poor farmers lack investment of money or labor in soil conservation works

  • Poor herders cannot afford fencing to allow rotational grazing or improved seed for pasture improvement


Placing third world risk reduction strategies in context of international development efforts

Placing Third World Risk Reduction Strategies in Context of International Development Efforts

  • Internal contradiction with large development agencies: some encouraging risk reduction, others encouraging investments which increase risk

  • Little connection between disaster risk reduction and “business as usual” development activities

    • “Normalizing” disasters make it hard to build into development activities that kinds of projects that reduce risk

    • “Complex humanitarian crises” drain away aid money from BOTH ‘normal’ development AND disaster prevention


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