Risk Management/Disaster Management

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Ruins from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.

A disaster is a serious disruption, occurring over a relatively short time, of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental loss and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.[1]

In contemporary academia, disasters are seen as the consequence of inappropriately managed risk. These risks are the product of a combination of both hazards and vulnerability. Hazards that strike in areas with low vulnerability will never become disasters, as in the case of uninhabited regions.[2]

Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits – more than 95 percent of all deaths caused by hazards occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural hazards are 20 times greater (as a percentage of GDP) in developing countries than in industrialized countries.[3][4]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word disaster is derived from Middle French désastre and that from Old Italian disastro, which in turn comes from the Ancient Greek pejorative prefix δυσ-, (dus-) "bad"[5] and ἀστήρ (aster), "star".[6] The root of the word disaster ("bad star" in Greek) comes from an astrological sense of a calamity blamed on the position of planets.[7]

Learning Task[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Staff. "What is a disaster?". www.ifrc.org. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  2. Quarantelli E.L. (editor) "Where We Have Been and Where We Might Go", What is a Disaster?: A Dozen Perspectives on the Question, London, Routledge, 1 edition 1998, pp.146-159
  3. "World Bank: Disaster Risk Management".
  4. Luis Flores Ballesteros. "Who’s getting the worst of natural disasters?" 54Pesos.org, 4 October 2008
  5. "Dus, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, "A Greek-English Lexicon", at Perseus".
  6. "Aster, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, "A Greek-English Lexicon", at Perseus".
  7. "Disaster" in Etymology online