Preparing for natural disasters in developing countries
Over 95% of deaths from rapid-onset natural disasters (such as floods, earthquakes and tsunamis) take place in developing countries. The humanitarian impact of a disaster is closely linked to the level of a country’s development. For example in 2011, the earthquake in Haiti caused 230,000 deaths while the earthquake in Chile in the same year, some 500 times stronger, caused only 802 deaths. Unplanned and rapid urban growth, high population densities, low standards in building construction and inadequate systems for relaying warnings to at-risk communities are among the reasons for such disparities. This POSTnote will look at the role of technology in increasing preparedness to natural disasters in developing countries and review progress in the development of early warning systems since the 2004 Asian Tsunami. The note will also look at physical precautions such as earthquake resistant building construction, and at the role of science and technology in emergency situations (for example in providing emergency mobile communications systems or in preventing the spread of disease). While the focus of the note will be on developing countries, the note may also highlight areas where developed countries also face challenges.
Short title:
Natural disasters
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Project leader:
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology of the UK Parliament (POST)
United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland