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Hussam Hussein
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Hi and thanks for visiting my profile :) My name is Hussam, I'm a blogger-researcher-journalist, member of the European Youth Press’ Middle East and North Africa Committee (MENAC). I studied in Italy (Trieste/Gorizia), England (SOAS, London), and Poland (College of Europe). Academically, my background is mainly in Diplomacy and International Relations, with a focus on Environment. My interests are climate change, water, development and international cooperation.


Disasters are not natural…

Published 18th July 2010 - 6 comments - 2447 views -

Dear fellow bloggers,

I have been last week in Geneva at the United Nations to a conference of Brugitte Leoni, of the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (ISDR). The main question was whether the disaster, known as natural disasters, are "natural disasters" or only disasters.

If a volcano eruption happens somwewhere where there is nobody, then it is just a natural hazard. While if a volcano (Vesuvio) erupts, for instance, in Napoli, it would be a "natural" disaster because of the many people living around the volcano, even if the Italian law does not allow people to build houses there. Should we therefore speak of "natural" disasters

 or just of disasters?


Hazard * Exposure vulnerability = disaster


There are 4 factors that increase our vulnerability to disasters:

-         Population growth and rapid urbanization

-         Environmental degradation

-         Climate change (drought and increasing number of storms and cyclones and floods)

-         Poverty or social inequality


Today we have the responsability for the people that have no voice: the future generations.

It has been seen that the poorer you are, the more you’re affected.

We can do something to reduce our vulnerability to disasters (we know what to do, but we don’t do it): the Hyogo Framework of Action offers some solutions:

-         Make disaster risk reduction a priority

-         Know the risks and take action

-         Build understanding and awareness

-         Reduce risks (ecosystem services, like mangrove in Vietnam which help to protect from floods and tsunami)

-         Be prepared and ready to act

People don’t want to move, the notion of risks, if you think it won’t happen to you, you won’t do anything

Educating and sharing information are the most important activity that should be done to lower the vulnerability, as shown in my previous post on Tilly Smith.

However, prevention is the 1st thing cancelled when there’s an economical crisis, you can include it in the geographical class, you don’t need to be rich to do education


Disasters cost more and more

Katrina 130 Billion US$, Kobe in 1995 120 Billion US$, Hurricane Mitch in 1998 put Nicaragua development back to 30 years.

Why acting now?

No country immune, it’s global, no frontiers, it’s a security problem, a political, economic, social, environmental and cultural problem

We know what can be done

Poor people will be the most affected, we all have a responsibility.


Therefore, in theory the best thing to do would be to prevent disasters, through education but also respecting and making respect the rules and laws as fare as security of the buildings is concerned. In particular of schools and of hospitals, because right after a disaster the presence of an hospital it is of extremely importance in the short term, while of the schools in the middle-long term.

 For more information:

Category: Crisis | Tags:


  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 18th July 2010:


    Very apt title! Indeed, when Mother Nature unleashes its fury…

  • Jan Marcinek on 18th July 2010:

    It had to be very interesting conference. I did not realize this problem, because I live in a country with no hurricanes, volcanoes and other “natural” disasters.

  • Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 19th July 2010:

    I think that society is very responsible for how the effects of a disaster strike. Just compare the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti… there is no ‘natural’ difference that should the situation in Haiti as horrible as it is.

    @Jan, don’t you have plenty of floods? Maybe it is the good shape of your society tht makes you not think of them as disasters.

  • Hussam Hussein on 19th July 2010:

    Thanks for your comments… glad that you liked it!

  • Npong Balikawu Francis on 07th February 2011:

    fantastic pierce the outline is clear we need to sit up

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