A hazard is a physical event, phenomenon or human activity that can cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption, or environmental degradation. Hazards have different origins: natural (geological, hydro, meteorological and biological) or due to human actions (environmental or technological).
Disasters are a combination of hazards, conditions of vulnerability and insufficient capacity or measures to reduce the negative consequences of risk. A hazard becomes a disaster when it coincides with a vulnerable situation, when societies or communities are unable to cope with it with their own resources and capacities.
Vulnerability is the degree to which someone or something can be affected by a particular hazard and depends on a number of factors and processes:
- • physical (unstable locations, closer proximity to hazards, fragile unprotected houses).
- • economic (no productive assets, limited income earning opportunities, poor pay, single income revenue, no savings and insurance)
- • social (low status in society, gender relations, fewer decision-making possibilities, oppressive formal and informal institutional structures, and political, economic and social hierarchies).
- • psychological (fears instigated by religious and other belief systems, ideologies, political pressures, mental illness).
- • physiological (status in life – young, old, adolescent, pregnant, lactating mothers, chronic illness, disability, exposure to sexual violence and harassment, HIV/Aids and other infections.
Risk is the probability of harmful consequences or expected losses (deaths, injuries, property, livelihoods, economic activity disrupted or environment damaged) resulting from interactions between natural or human-induced hazards and vulnerable populations.
Disaster Risk Reduction
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) includes all the policies, strategies and measures that can make people, villages, cities and countries more resilient to hazards and reduce risk and vulnerability to disasters. DRR includes disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, recovery and reconstruction.
Disaster Prevention – integrates all the activities to provide outright avoidance of the adverse impact of hazards and the means to minimize related environmental, technological and biological disasters.
Disaster Mitigation has different meanings for practitioners in the climate change and disaster-management communities, often leading to confusion. For disaster management, mitigation focuses on structural and non-structural measures undertaken to limit the adverse impact of natural hazards, environmental degradation and technological hazards.
Disaster Preparedness activities contribute to the pre-planned, timely and effective response of individuals and communities to reduce the impact of a natural hazard and deal with the consequences of a potential disaster.
Disaster Recovery consists of decisions and actions taken after a disaster to restore or improve the pre-disaster living conditions of the stricken community.
Disaster Reconstruction is the set of actions taken after a disaster to enable basic services to resume functioning, repair physical damage and community facilities, revive economic activities, and support the psychological and social well-being of the survivors.
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of “needs”, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and the future needs.
Ref. UNISDR ‘Disaster through a Different Lens’ 2012