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Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
SUN1.2: Vulnerability and natural hazards
Time: Sunday, 26/Aug/2012: 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Session Chair: David ALEXANDER, Global Risk Forum GRF Davos
Session Chair: Karen I SUDMEIER-RIEUX, UNEP
Location: Seehorn



Human settlement indices for bushfire risk in Australia

Alan Peter MARCH1, Lucy GROENHART1, Justin LEONARD2

1University of Melbourne; 2Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)

In the context of increasing fire risks resulting from climate change, metropolitan areas in Australia are growing quickly. This growth is exposing increasing numbers of houses to bushfire threats. There is a need for improved bushfire assessment tools at the local and strategic planning level, for existing and proposed settlements to ensure that new housing is appropriately located and designed. In addition, existing settlements facing high fire risks can be improved. Current design guides tend to focus on individual buildings, giving little comprehensive attention to the arrangements of settlements overall, a form of maladaptation that may actually encourage increased amounts of settlement in areas of high bushfire incidence.

The paper reports on new research in Australia developing indices of human settlement fire vulnerability, allowing broad analysis of existing and proposed settlements in fire prone areas. The suitability indices assist in determining the best locations for growth, the best patterns of urban growth in areas deemed suitable, and the ways that existing settlements in fire risk areas could be made less vulnerable. Specifically, it examines what elements of urban settlement morphology, in parallel with particular vegetation and topography types, impact upon bushfire risks to life and property; which risks can be ascribed to Australia’s existing and proposed settlements currently; and, how well extant settlement policy regulates and mitigates bushfire risks. This research has been used to develop an index of inter-related factors that can be used as an assessment tool for existing and proposed human settlements in bushfire prone areas. Comparison of the index to extant policy has allowed for critique and improvement of existing planning regulations, spatial policy and design guides.

Rural hazards and vulnerability assessment in the downstream sector of Shiroro dam, Nigeria

Asimiyu Mohammed JINADU

Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nigeria, Nigeria, Federal Republif of

Shiroro dam is one of the three major hydroelectric dams built on River Kaduna in Niger State, northwestern Nigeria. The downstream communities are exposed to annual flooding and other hazards related to their livelihood activities and living pattern. A study on hazard's identification and vulnerability assessment was conducted in Gusoro and Gurmana villages situated at the downstream sector of Shiroro dam. The study relied on direct field survey using the instruments of oral interviews, questionnaire administration and field measurements for data collection. The existing hazards were identified through field observations and interactions with community groups. Information for the vulnerability assessment was collected using six sensitivity domains (population, livelihood\poverty, health, water and sanitation, housing and accessibility, environment) and three coping capacity domains (asset and infrastructure, human and economic resources, institutional capacity), each with a set of indicators for data collection. The results from data analysis indicated, among others, that the communities were exposed to floods, erosion and health hazards as well as the risk of building collapse and environmental degradation. The local coping strategies of building concentration on higher grounds, construction of elevated footpaths and embankments were found to be primitive and unsustainable. The problems of high level of illiteracy, poverty and dependent population (50%) as well as low or complete lack of access to safe drinking water, health facilities, basic infrastructure, credit facilities (13.0%) make the people highly vulnerable. The level of preparedness is low as there were no disaster management committees, local disaster management institutions and local disaster plans. All this reduces community resilience and increases the vulnerability of the people. The study suggested some practical measures for reducing the risk of disasters in the area based on the findings of the research.

EU disaster risk reduction in the Asia Pacific: reducing the social vulnerability of children

Genevieve TAYLOR

University of Canterbury, New Zealand

To reflect the increased global recognition of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), the European Union has generated a common DRR strategy under is disaster preparedness mechanism DIPECHO. Often the risks identified in DRR policies focus on technical or infrastructural risks associated with disasters, and social risks tend to be disregarded. Children represent one vulnerable faction where social risks may go unacknowledged in DRR strategies. Such policy formation is nevertheless an important preventative measure of ensuring the protection of children and their rights during and after a disaster. While there has been a positive shift in the EU’s recognition of the vulnerability of children in several of its foreign policy initiatives, it is yet to fully reflect this in its DRR policy or programming. While there has been an escalation of literature surrounding the importance of DRR programming, some of which focussing on South East Asian countries, often the Pacific is unacknowledged. Moreover, there is yet to be an examination of the EU’s DRR strategy in the region, and whether such implementation is effective in reducing the risks faced by children in the Asia Pacific. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the collaborations between the EU and its child-focused partners over recent years in the Asia Pacific region to assist children at a time of crisis through DRR policy formation and programming. This research challenges the traditional, technical preventative measures for disasters by employing a complex and innovative theoretical framework based on social vulnerability and human security. Through this doctrine, extensive policy mapping and a unique data set is evaluated to assess the DRR policy and programming of the EU. This paper thus provides a critical analysis of the external DRR programming by the EU in the Asia Pacific to assess whether the social vulnerability of children has been addressed.

Vulnerability assessment of cotton to hail in China based on historical records, field investigation and ground experiments

YaoJie YUE1,2, Jintao ZHAO3, Jing'ai WANG1,2,4, Yuanyuan YIN1,2, Xinyue YE5, Xiaoyun HUANG1,2

1School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China; 2Key Laboratory of Regional Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China; 3Langfang Normal College, Langfang, Hebei 065000, China; 4State key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China; 5School of Earth, Environment and Society, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio 43403( USA)

China is the largest cotton production country in the world, while hail disasters frequently afflict its cotton planting and often cause great yield losses. This article constructs an integrated methodology for cotton vulnerability assessment by incorporating the Historical Yield Loss Records, conducting Field Investigation and Ground Experiments (HiReFiGe). Firstly, a long series of historical hail cases database from 1950 to 2009 was built up at county level for the assessment of hail hazard intensity. Secondly, a set of indices system for cotton loss measurement was put forward through field investigation, which was carried out in June 2010, after a heavy hail disaster. Thirdly, a series of ground experiments were conducted based on artificially-controlled hail disasters, by which the cotton yield loss at different growing stages and different intensity of hail hazard were quantitatively worked out. Finally, by taking hail intensity and the bolls loss as key indices, this research got four vulnerability curves of cotton at different growth stages of seedling, bud, boll, and boll opening stages respectively.

Results indicate that the vulnerability of cotton to hail varies at different growing stages, which are highest in stage of seedling and the bell, followed by the bud stage and the boll opening stage. Therefore, the seedling and boll stages are the key period for cotton hail disaster mitigation and risk governance. At national scale, with the increase of loss rates, the occurrence probability reduces gradually. The highest probability areas are the eastern part of Shanxi, Aksu of Xinjiang Autonomous region, indicating that these regions are highest hail disaster risk area for cotton, where should be paid more attention to cotton hail hazard prevention. This research presents an integrated approach to evaluate the cotton vulnerability to hail, which can be a scientific reference for cotton insurers and the local governmental decision-makers.

A study on the various types of community-based disaster management in mid-sized cities in Japan: a case study from Saijo City


Kyoto University, Japan

The attention given to community-based disaster management (CBDM) has grown lately due to the increase number of natural disaster and review of case studies. Rural village has been established a community to defend their community from any kind of disaster by collaborating with local residents. In order to understand the local community in relation to the disaster, reviewing their disaster history, group or organization in charge of disaster, activities that conducted in relation to their local community are important. In Japan, there are many mid-sized cities with population of less than 100,000 people facing population decrease and aging. Saijo city is not an exception. Saijo city is located at the east part of Ehime prefecture in Japan. The city holds a variety of geographical characteristics from plain area along the sea coast to hilly and mountainous area. How people established CBDM that matches their needs and social conditions? In this study, an interview survey was conducted with the Fire Volunteer (FV) members and local residents. The study revealed that FV is a main organization that has been in charge of different kinds of disaster happened in the city for many years. Also, in 2004 flood and 2008 forest fire, FV played a major role that was from preparedness to emergency response. This paper focuses on the various types of coordination that have been established between FV and based Voluntary Organizations for Disaster Prevention (VODP). The study found that each community has different types and ways to protect their community depending on their natural environment and social conditions that include limitations. The analysis also revealed that human relationship that has been established in the local community through summer festival and children’s association activities increases the awareness to protect their people and community that lead young people to join FV.

Social vulnerability to natural hazards in China

Shuai HE, Saini YANG, Jiayuan YE

State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China

Since last century, together with the significant increment of exposures and natural hazards intensity and frequency, the losses from natural disasters increased dramatically. China has experienced huge changes in social fabrics during the past few decades, especially in population density, development patterns, economic conditions, and social characteristics. These changes might have exposed people and society to higher risk. It is important to recognize the regional vulnerability exposed to natural hazards in order to help decision making for disaster reduction planning and risk management. For the purpose of getting the spatial distributions of social vulnerability in China, large amounts of social-econ data in the past 2 decades are collected. Based on the provincial socioeconomic and demographic data, specific variables which can construct an index of social vulnerability to natural hazards are selected from mass data by using the principal component analysis and varimax rotation. Using the index of social vulnerability scores, the geographic patterns of social vulnerability for each year can be obtained. Compared with the spatial distribution patterns of disaster loss, the spatial patterns of social vulnerability to natural hazards and the index of social vulnerability are verified. Due to the complexity of social vulnerability, this paper presents empirical evidence of the social vulnerability’s temporal and spatial patterns in recent 2 decades. We calculate the indicators of spatial autocorrelation to capture the local development modes and examine spatial effects. By analyzing the spatial and temporal changes of social vulnerability, the major components which influence social vulnerability are discussed.

Temporal and geographical variation of geo-hydrological risk to the population of Italy


CNR - IRPI, Italy, Republic of

In Italy, landslides and floods are widespread, recurrent and dangerous phenomena. Using an historical catalogue of landslide and flood events with human consequences, we assessed individual and societal geo-hydrological risk levels in Italy. The historical catalogue covers the period from AD 68 to 2011 and list information on 3,559 landslide events in 3,021 sites and on 2,785 flood events in 2,040 sites. Between 1900 and 2011, at least 1,402 landslide events that have caused more than 8,081 casualties in 816 municipalities, and at least 978 flood events that have caused more than 4,925 casualties in 645 municipalities, have occurred in Italy. In the 7-year recent period 2005-2011 all the 20 Italian Regions have suffered at least one landslide or flood event with casualties. These figures indicate that geo-hydrological risk to the population is severe and widespread in Italy. In this country, establishing landslide and flood risk levels is therefore a problem of both scientific and societal interest. To study individual landslide and flood risk, we determined mortality rates, measured by the number of fatalities per 100,000 people in a period of one year, and we used census data to estimate the geographical and temporal variation of landslide and flood mortality in the 150-year period 1861-2010. To determine societal risk levels, we established the probability of experiencing severe landslide and flood events modelling the empirical distributions of harmful events with a Zipf distribution. Comparison of the societal risk posed by landslide and flood events to the risk posed by earthquakes, and volcanic events showed that the frequency and the severity of the geophysical and the meteorological harmful events are different. The results of this study are significant for the quantification of the risk posed by natural hazards to the population of Italy.

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