Essay about More Powerful Quake Less Devastating Effect

Submitted By corylamous
Words: 952
Pages: 4

There is a growing concern that disasters are on the rise around the world and especially in developing countries, where years of development gains can be single-handedly wiped out when a single event occurs (Wisner 2006, 6). The sudden spate of disastrous earthquakes in the Americas cause concerns. Within a span of 45 days, two earthquakes hit Haiti and Chile. An earthquake, measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale, rocked Haiti on January 12, 2010, knocking down buildings and power lines and killing over 200,000 people. While the earthquake that devastated Chile, measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale on February 27 was 500 times more powerful; yet the death toll is magnitudes lower.

There is the dominant approach which has examined the role of poverty in deepening the effects of natural disasters. Poverty is what ultimately kills most people during an earthquake. Poverty means that little or no evaluation is made of seismic risk in constructing buildings and no zoning takes place. It means that building codes are not written, and even if they do exist they are difficult, or impossible, to enforce. It means the choice between building robustly or building cheaply is not a choice at all (Stark 2010).
Similarly, other studies stressed the costs in terms of lives, people’s disability and injuries and livelihoods affecting by the results of earthquake. They all agreed that the impacts are enormous and they are unequally distributed, with the poor and most vulnerable carrying most of the burden of the costs. Haiti is, by a significant margin, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with four out of five people living in poverty and more than half in abject poverty. Unfortunately, those poor people can't afford to "build to code." The earthquake and the loss of life and destruction that resulted are related to the lack of political and economic development in Haiti. The political instability has severely hampered economic growth and stability which in turn reduces the ability to provide social programs such as education and health care which would, again, hinder economic vitality (Sullivan, 2010). By contrast, Chile is wealthier and holds a favorable position among Latin American countries, being one of the four countries with the lowest poverty levels (along with Uruguay, Costa Rica and Argentina).
Education, knowledge and awareness are critical to building the ability to reduce losses from natural hazards, as well as the capacity to respond to and recover effectively from extreme natural events when they do, inevitably, occur” (Wisner 2006, 4). Chile is located on the Pacific Rim 'ring of fire', the most seismically active region in the world. Chile, the richest country in Latin America, is equipped with a robust regime of earthquake preparedness, has a long history of handling seismic catastrophes and the authorities rigorously apply building codes. The recognition of the need to integrate disaster management in the development process and to ensure that disaster reduction activities are incorporated at all levels of development planning represents an important shift in policy and practice in Chile (Twigg 2004, 3). No living Haitians had experienced a quake at home when the January12 disaster crumbled their poorly constructed buildings. The last earthquake was in 1860. They did not even know that they live on or close to a historically active fault system. Haitians were not schooled in how to react by sheltering under tables and door frames, and away from glass windows. Earthquake preparedness is absent in Haiti earthquake either from the government side which may only be concerned with hurricanes or from individuals who cannot afford even buying and maintaining emergency supplies because of the level of poverty.
Disasters can be proactively reduced and even prevented when appropriate measures are taken. Protect and strengthen critical public facilities and physical infrastructure, particularly schools, clinics, hospitals, water