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VULNERABILITY, MITIGATION AND PREPAREDNESS AT NATURAL DISASTERS: THE CASE OF TURKISH EARTHQUAKES Istanbul University, Istanbul Medical Faculty, Department of Public Health Yakut Irmak ÖZDEN, Ayse Emel ÖNAL, Sıdıka Tekeli YEŞİL
For many years, public health researchers have directed their efforts towards health problems arising mainly from faulty social and economic structures and the importance of natural factors, has been to some extent neglected. • Of course, the impact of demographic, social and economic factors on nature should not be overlooked either. Mankind has been attempting to manipulate his natural environment – sometimes in a destructive manner- according to his economic needs, without taking into account the new risks brought about by this destruction.
The contribution of human made and natural disasters to the global disease burden is expected to climb from the 12th place in 1998 to the 8th place in 2020. The statistics gathered at the CRED show that in 2002, 488 natural disasters were reported in the world, causing the death of 40 327 people. Furthermore, 48 708 persons were injured and a total of 621 331 512 were affected due to the consequences of natural disasters. On the other hand, according to WHO, by the end of the 20th century, the impact of natural disasters to the world economy reached 50 billion dollars annualy. • Accelerated changes in demographic and economic trends have disturbed the balance between ecosystems. Environmental degradation intensifies disasters, and increases the potential for secondary disasters.
At the 22nd World Congress of Architecture held in Istanbul last month, the participants unanimously declared that the lack of politics of development in industrialisation, urbanization and architecture oriented towards human welfare and security was much more responsible for the consequences of disasters than nature itself. • Each hazard and each geographical area has its own vulnerabilities and consequences. The severity of the toll paid at the disasters mostly depend on faulty economic and social infrastuctures of the affected community.
Disasters do not kill or strike people in the same way, it depends on who you are and to what society you belong. According to World Bank’s estimations, 97% of deaths related to natural disasters occur in the developing countries.
On the other hand, the ratio of economic loss to GNP in those countries far exceeds the ones in developed countries
In the case of earthquakes, vulnerability factors may be summarised as fallows: -Location of settlements in seismic areas, -Inadequate building practices and regulations, -Dense concentration of buildings with high occupancy, -The lack of warning systems and of public awareness on earthquake risks. • In the developing countries, the main increase in risk can be attributed to overcrowding, faulty land-use planning and construction, inadequate infrastructure and services and environmental degradation.
The probability that a particular system or population will be affected by hazards is known as “risk”. Hence, it can be said that, • Risk=Vulnerability x Hazard or, taking into account coping capacity: • Risk= VulnerabilityxHazard Coping Capacity -Vulnerability has always economic, social, organisational and educational dimensions.
“Mitigation” can be defined as the permanent reduction of the disaster risk and can be categorized as “primary mitigation” which refers to reducing the presence of the hazard and of the vulnerability, and “secondary mitigation”, which refers to reducing the impact of the hazard. • “Preparedness” covers the measures that insure the organized mobilization of personel, funds, equipment and supplies within a safe environment for effective relief, “response” can be defined as the set of activities implemented after the impact of a disaster in order to assess the needs, reduce the suffering, limit the spread and the consequences of the disaster and open the way to rehabilitation.
Turkey is located between Europe and Asia with a population reaching 70 millions. The growth rate of the population, which was nearing 3% during the period 1955-1980, has been diminishing since and was reduced to 1.5% in the last years. The country has been undergoing a very rapid process of urbanization in the last 50 years and the ratio of urban popülation, which was 26% in 1950, had climbed to 60% by the end of the century, the urban population growth rate was 3.3% between 1990-2000.
Turkey is a land of earthquakes because of its location. There are seven main tectonic areas in Turkey. Nearly 96 % of the country with different rates, is located on seismic risks areas. 66% of this large earthquake zone cconsists of active fault systems, which means that 70% of the population and 75% of industrial establishments in those regions can face with an earthquake anytime. Among the disasters that regularly strike Turkey, earthquakes have always caused the major share of causalties and physical damage.
The Marmara Region is one of the highest risk areas. Nearly one third of Turkey’s population live in this region. With the highest population growth rate (2.8%). This growth rate is mostly due to internal migration for employment opportunities.
This high-density population brings many problems with such as the increase in the number of buildings and settlements. The number of buildings in Istanbul, which was 1 378 000 in 1984, had increased at the end of the century to 3 393 000 with a growth rate of 146%. Besides its demographic features, this region plays a leading role in the economy of the country (Its share in industrial GDP reaches 33.8%) and an important part of all qualified people live here.
Unfortunately a very severe earthquake is expected to happen with a very high degree of probability within the next 30 years and its epicenter will be this time much closer to İstanbul metropolitan area.
Estimated Damage and Losses Due to Expected Earthquake ( According to “Credible worst scenario”)