Monday, 9 April 2012

Why are the effects of natural hazards generally less harmful in HICs than in LICs?

Why are the effects of natural hazards generally less harmful in HICs than in LICs?

Preparation and prediction in HICs are usually better than in LICs thus the effects are less harmful. HICs are generally wealthier thus they can afford better prediction technology. For example, USA has top-notch satellite technology that feeds back to the National Hurricane Centre in Miami. This allows them to check the weather and satellite images to see if there is a hurricane forming; or to see if there is a possibility of a hurricane forming (for example if the ocean is at 27˚C). If one is forming, they can send out a warning to people at least 24-hours in advance. In LICs such as Bangladesh, they can’t afford such technology thus their citizens don’t have much time to prepare to evacuate-leading to more injuries and deaths. Japan is another example of a wealthy country that has good prediction equipment albeit for earthquakes.

Preparation in HICs is much better in several ways. Firstly, the warning systems are much better. For example in Florida, there are sirens, messages sent to mobile phones as well as news broadcasted via the radio, internet and television. This is much more effective than in LICs such as in Bangladesh where megaphones are used. A person cycles through the farms and city yelling out warnings through a megaphone. This is ineffective as there is a chance that many people won’t hear them. Also, many people in Bangladesh had no idea how bad the cyclone was going to be, and they did not know how to prepare. (Some did not believe the warnings.)
Moreover, their housing was of poor quality, so they did not need to strengthen it whereas in Florida people boarded up their windows. Furthermore, they had nowhere else to go for lack of hurricane shelters, and there was no transportation they could take. Thus they stayed at home. This resulted in more deaths as their houses may collapse on them, or they would be swept by the storm surge as they remained in low lying areas. (Due to lack of education in LICs, many people did not know the after effects of some natural disasters. For example, in Bangladesh, many people did not know about the storm surge that could flood areas and drown people. They also did not know about the eye of the storm, where it is calm. So they go outside to survey the damage only to be swept up by the hurricane when the eye passes. In other LICs prone to earthquakes, some people may not know about the aftershocks that could be quite high on the Richter scale too.)

Another reason why effects are less severe in HICs is they have stockpiles of food and water. These are kept in the shelters built in case of emergencies. (For example, in Florida, there are elevated shelters built along the coastline for people living near the coast to protect them from the storm surge.) In LICs, there isn’t as much food surplus so people can’t store cans of food; nor do they have the money to do so anyway. One effect of natural disasters in LICs is starvation and disease spreading. The water sources like reservoirs are contaminated, often with cholera, and people drinking it get sick and spread the disease. Agriculture is important in LICs, and with the crops destroyed by the disaster the people have no food to eat. Many people die of starvation. On the contrary, in HICs, people can still survive with stockpiles of canned food and water prepared beforehand.

There are less deaths in HICs because the people are well prepared. They have constant drills and practices so that they know what to do when an emergency occurs. For example in Japan, all the schools have frequent earthquake drills where people practice evacuating or hiding beside tables. In Florida, there are even evacuation routes and road signs directing people to safe areas. In LICs, the transportation system is less organised and there aren’t any safe places for people to evacuate to. Also, the infrastructure is weak leading to bridges and highways collapsing. This could injure a lot of people. Traffic lights also cease to function, hence leading to traffic jams-so even if people want to evacuate, they would be stuck. In HICs, there are buildings designed to be resistant against natural disasters. For example, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan is designed to be earthquake-resistant. It has a tuned mass damper that swings in the opposite direction the building does in an earthquake to prevent it from collapsing. In Japan, buildings have to comply with regulations to make it earthquake resistant so that less people are harmed by falling debris from collapsing buildings.

The responses in HICs really help reduce the effect of natural hazards. Short-term responses such as rescue teams (firefighters, search and rescue teams, ambulances etc) have had regular training thus they know what to do. They won’t panic, they have the transport to get to places in need of help, and they also have sufficient equipment. This is good because they can save a lot more people if they are well prepared. In LICs, training, transport and equipment need a lot of money and so they cannot afford it. The response is sluggish and poor as people are momentarily dazed and do not know what to do. For example, in Bangladesh, the rescue teams did not have enough medical equipment and they did not have enough simple things like plasters. They did not have torches or blankets to provide people with comfort and many people died without sufficient aid and medical treatment. In HICs, there were backup electricity and water sources so people were able to live quite comfortably. They also set about to repair any damaged telephone lines so that people could contact family. This reduced any trauma people suffered as they felt more secure and they knew their family was informed.

The long term responses in HICs such as rebuilding any collapsed infrastructure and housing was much better as they could afford to do so. HICs such as Japan and Florida managed to rebuild most of the buildings, transport infrastructure and housing units within a decade of the disaster. They also improved building designs to make it more resistant. In LICs such as Philippines, there are still people displaced from the Mount Pinatubo eruption as the country does not have the money to rebuild all the houses. They also don’t have money to build it well. Many people still have to live in temporary housing with poor facilities. The resettling of people in LICs is not effective and it is often very slow. LICs such as Bangladesh and Philippines are interdependent, they have to rely on other countries to give them financial aid and more.


  1. tqtqtqtq your posts are very helpful :D

    1. thanks and your welcome, glad they help. =D

    2. Best article ever!!! Not


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