What Causes a Disaster?

By Jeff Palmer, CEO on August 7, 2017 | Print

When a disaster happens, you might be left stunned and struggling to understand. How could this happen? Was it an act of God or nature? Why is an earthquake in a developing country more devastating than one in a developed country?

You also might feel helpless. After all, disasters can often be massive in scale and impact. At Baptist Global Response, we believe every person can help bring comfort to people impacted by disasters. You can read about the disaster relief efforts BGR supports or donate directly to help give emergency food, shelter, water, and medical aid to people in need.

Still, reacting when disasters arise is one thing. Understanding how they happen in the first place is another. We commonly use three classifications of causes for disasters:

  1. Natural. Examples are earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis
  2. Man Made. Chemical spills, pollution, landslides (due to bad farming practices or poor infrastructure decisions), or nuclear fallout
  3. Complex. Combination of any of the above

On their own, earthquakes, floods, landslides, and other disasters can be devastatingly destructive. However, the destruction is multiplied or diminished when combined with economic, environmental, and social factors.

There are several factors that can heighten or lessen the effects of a disaster on a population segment:

  • Poverty. Usually, the greater the poverty, the harder the impact of a disaster.
  • Increased population density. Generally, the higher the population at the epicenter of a disaster event, the greater the impact on that disaster. Loss of human life and injuries are one of the major determinants of disaster severity.
  • Rapid urbanization. Poor planning and provision of safe infrastructure can be an aggravating factor in severity of disasters. For example, rapid building construction in urbanizing areas may cut corners on good building practices.
  • Environmental degradation. Removal of trees and forest cover from a watershed area can remove ability of rainfall absorption into the soil and aquifer causing larger volumes of surface runoff after a tropical storm.
  • Lack of awareness or preparation for common disasters
  • War and civil strife.
  • Socio/political issues.

When it comes to disasters, it’s never a matter of if they will happen. They are guaranteed to happen, and people in poverty will always feel the impact most strongly. We need the help of caring people like you to get them back on their feet and help them survive. Will you partner with us?

Ruchira 5 years ago

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