Planning and Geohazards
Published:January 01, 2009
Risk management is a policy promoting the identification, analysis and quantification of the probability of damage that a natural hazard might cause, considering the vulnerability of the human environment and the ways to prevent and mitigate the losses in advance. In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) available information about causes and consequences of risk is scarce and barely matches the needs of project engineers and decision-makers. Average annual losses caused by major and ‘minor’ hazards (the latter usually not included in the statistics) amount to a large share of the development effort. Disasters provide evidence of the vulnerability of the countries, have a severe impact on the economic performance and social well-being through the loss of infrastructure, agricultural capacity, basic services, housing and environmental deterioration, and affect the quality of life of the poorest sectors of the population. Therefore, vulnerability is an economic problem with deep social roots. In LAC, the circumstances influencing the ex ante decision-making processes have not been favourable to prevention. Governments still reinforce reactive institutions, which are usually centralized. Delegation of tasks and responsibility to national planning entities, local governments and communities trails behind. Typically, local communities bear the brunt of the losses and do not participate in defining the ‘acceptable’ levels of risk. Therefore, it is evident that there is no such a thing as a ‘natural disaster’. The inclusion and adoption in investment projects of risk management criteria supported by engineering geology should start by increasing awareness, understanding and modelling of natural hazards, reducing vulnerability, and increasing social, environmental and economic resilience. This paper analyses practices based on experiences in LAC and proposes proactive risk management criteria.
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Engineering Geology for Tomorrow’s Cities
This book and the accompanying CD-ROM provide a statement of our knowledge and understanding of engineering geology as applied to the urban environment at the start of the 21st century. In particular, this volume demonstrates that:
working standards originally developed nationally are becoming internationalized;
risk assessment, rather than just assessment of hazards, is driving decision-making;
geo-environmental change, whether climatically or anthropogenically driven, is becoming better understood;
greater use of underground space is being made;
the relentless advance of information technology is providing new opportunities for engineering geologists to interpret and visualize the subsurface.
This book shows that in developed and developing countries alike, engineering geolgists are increasingly exchanging ideas and learning from each other in a genuine two-way process. These ideas will contribute significantly to the sustainable development of both new and long-established urban environments world-wide.