Power and Disasters

Authored by: Adolfo Mascarenhas , Ben Wisner

The Routledge Handbook of Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415590655
eBook ISBN: 9780203844236
Adobe ISBN: 9781136918698


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One should consider afresh the relations between disaster and power in a world full of anomalies and contradictions. Much power is concentrated in the hands of relatively few individuals, institutions and nation states. This distribution of power affects the social distribution of risk and the resources dedicated to reducing risk. The distribution of disaster deaths is today skewed towards low- and middle-income developing countries. Why? Within these countries the rural and urban poor and marginalised are more heavily affected. Why? What has this distribution among nations and within countries to do with power and its distribution? Although human beings generally have to tread carefully and with great ingenuity on a restless planet, whilst the hazards dealt with by this handbook are natural, disasters are not natural; rather they are more a matter of power and social justice (Wisner et al. 2004).

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