Disaster and Development Linkage

Disasters and development are closely linked. Disasters can both destroy development initiatives and create development opportunities. Development schemes can both increase and decrease vulnerability.

In the traditional approach to disasters, the attitude was that the disasters, especially natural ones, were an act of god and as such were beyond human control; accepting death and damage to property was part of the costs. With such an attitude, most development plans were designed without consideration for the effect disasters would have on community plans and vice versa. When a disaster did occur, the response was directed at meeting emergency needs and cleaning up.

In the current approach, it has been realized that much more can and need to be done to reduce the severity of hazards and disasters.  A growing body of knowledge on the relationships between disasters and development indicates four basic themes as follows:

  • Disasters set back development programming, destroying years of development initiatives.
  • Rebuilding after a disaster provides significant opportunities to initiate development programmes.
  • Development programmes can increase an area’s susceptibility to disasters.
  • Development programmes can be designed to decrease the susceptibility to disasters and their negative consequences.

Thus, the policy makers cannot ignore the relationship between the disaster and development. Projects are thus being designed to include disaster recovery programmes and with long term development needs in mind. Disasters can significantly impede the effectiveness of development resource allocation.

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