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Poor countries are more at risk from natural hazards than rich countries. How far do you agree with this statement?

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Introduction

Poor countries are more at risk from natural hazards than rich countries. How far do you agree with this statement? For this question to be answered the meaning of the word "risk" needs to be considered carefully. It may be referring to the risk of loss of lives or money. Perhaps it is referring to geographical location creating more or less of a risk. Natural hazards can cause direct risks and indirect risks. It can have a wide range of interpretations, so therefore each of them need to be carefully considered. It is important to understand why people live in these "risky" areas. Understanding of this is a key issue into understanding the difference between rich and poor countries. As natural hazards are fairly unpredictable, many people feel it is not going to occur during their lifetime and therefore they take the risk. Some of these people are happy to take the risk, and think of it as a kind of "Russian Roulette" and consider it to be almost destiny. In Economically Less Developed Countries (ELDC's) there is often a lack of alternatives due to rapidly increasing populations so they are forced to live on fault lines, or unstable slopes. ...read more.

Middle

China has now recognised that the forests are ten times more valuable for flood control and water supply than they are for timber, and thus logging was halted in the Yangtze River watershed. The loss of 85% of the forests in the upper Yangtze worsened the 1998 flood which affected 223 million people. Natural disasters have a significant detrimental impact on the developing and developed world alike. On an annual basis over the past decade, ELDC's spend $35 billion on damages from natural disasters. On a per capita GDP basis this is relatively twenty times the cost in the developed world. A long term implication of this is for example, less money available to spend on improving the infrastructure to make sure it is safe. Generally the poorest developing countries lack internal resources to be able to reconstruct areas after they have been hit by natural hazards such as floods and tropical storms. In the USA, half of the costs of natural hazards are absorbed by insurance. In ELDC's only 2% of all costs in reconstruction are absorbed by insurance. Hurricane Mitch in 1998, caused damage in Central America which was $8.5 billion higher than the combined GDP of Honduras and Nicaragua, the two nations hardest hit. ...read more.

Conclusion

More hurricanes and floods are predicted to result from a global climate change. Since flooding and hurricanes tend to happen in the same regions, the exposure to countries already at risk will increase. Flooding occurs on 1% of the earth's landmass. Unfortunately, many of the fastest growing urban areas in the world are by the coast. These are in ELDC's and are located here due to colonial original development in these regions. When the countries were colonised, coastal areas were developed the most so that the colonial countries could maximise the ability to export goods. These cities tend to be the primate cities of the country for example Lagos, Nigeria. As discussed earlier, there are proportionately more ELDC's along the tropics which is the area vulnerable to hurricanes. These coastal zone cities will be subject to an increased risk as a result of global climatic change. Both rich and poor countries suffer from natural hazards. I would agree that poorer countries are more vulnerable than rich countries as they do not have as much money to spend on protecting themselves. Also they tend to have much higher population densities so more people are going to be affected. However, richer countries are affected economically. Poorer countries are therefore are more at risk at loosing lives due to natural hazards than richer countries. ...read more.

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