BLOG 4 DISASTERS
In this last fortnight we have been examining the concept of disasters. A disaster comes about from natural hazards of the environment such as earthquakes, cyclones, floods and erupting volcanos. They are defined as a disaster “when they impact human society to cause social disruption, material damage and loss of life” (Middleton, 2013, p488).
- Natural hazards are physical phenomena of the environment they can become a disaster by the interference of human activities (global warming, urbanisation and cutting roads etc).
- Some natural hazards can have an advantageous effect such as river floods, they may be dangerous but also offer a water resource and a flood plain which enriches soil. It is the frequency and the limits to human management which will determine it becoming a disaster.
- A hazard can be classified by its physical characteristics (avalanches, floods), geographical origin (volcanos), spatially (earthquakes at tectonic plate margins), biologically (disease spread by insects becoming an epidemic), and if it is an instant severe event (tornados), or gradual onset event (droughts).
- Disasters can be a combination of natural hazards for example earthquakes causing a tsunami.
- Generally, governments and agencies will take four steps to managing a disaster; mitigation (prevention and education), preparedness (planning how to respond), response (what needs to be done to save lives and help survivors) and recovery (getting back to normal living conditions).
- A natural hazard can happen in any location in the world although some countries are more at risk than others from a disaster. “Alexander (1997) found 90 per cent of disaster related deaths occurred in developing countries while some 82 per cent of economic loses were suffered by developed countries” (Middleton, 2013, p 490).
(Middleton, 2013, p499)
- Although human impact on the environment and the probability of natural hazards are in no doubt a cause of a disaster, when a country is plunged into crises it is characteristically politically led. It will depend on a government’s :
- Political will.
- Funding priority.
- Preparation and action
- Relationships between resource suppliers and aid organisations.
- Discrimination against race, religion, poverty.
- World Risk Index (WRI) ranks a countries probability of disaster by considering the combination of their natural hazard risk and their societies vulnerability.
- The case studies of the Japan earthquake 2011 and the Haiti earthquake 2010 demonstrate powerfully the different vulnerabilities there can be between countries and how it contributes to a disaster.
- 220,000 fatalities in Haiti compared to 28,000 fatalities in Japan even though the magnitude of the earthquake in Japan was 9.0 and 7.0 in Haiti.
- Haiti had 1 million completely homeless (population of 10 million), Japan had 530,000 people displaced staying in evacuation centres, schools and public halls.
- Haiti had 300,000 injured, Japan had 2,000.
- Haiti endured 250,000 destroyed or significantly damaged buildings; 60% government buildings, 80% government buildings in the capital Pot-au-prince with the UN headquarters being destroyed. Japan sustained 4,700 houses destroyed and around 50,000 damaged.
- Haiti needed huge international aid and an influx of non governmental organisations (NGO’s) independent non governmental organisations (INGO’s) providing search and rescue teams, medical teams and financial assistance. Japan only made specific requests for help such as search and rescue teams.
- There are key international organisations who work between and within the government to support and prioritise humanitarian needs.
- UN – UNICEF, FAO, OCHA
- World food programme (WFP)
- World health organisation (WHO)
- NGO’s and INGO’s also work alongside the governments for example Save the Children Red cross, and Oxfam.
- Provide unbiased approach.
- Politically neutral.
- Prepare communities e.g. Education, communication.
- Provide relief and medical aid.
- Build on government financial aid.
- Are fair and effective towards communities.
As I reflect on the information, I have gathered about disasters their social and political effects on a society, I have realised the profound need as a teacher to educate children in this area of sustainability. It links nicely with climate change but will also inform a child of the problems of the wider world. I feel it could be a difficult topic to approach given the frightening details and severe outcomes but would serve as a stark reminder of the inequalities of different cultures and the value of an understanding of natural occurrences and human interference on them. It will allow children the chance to enhance their sense of empathy, how to make choices that will reflect on others and create an opportunity for political understanding and participation. Learning about disasters I can cover a wide range of curricular areas such as Science, Social studies, Literacy and some Health and Wellbeing areas. I would be able to engage pupils by using powerful images, media reports, setting up fundraising in school for present day crisis’s and by doing fun fact finding activities and science experiments. I particularly enjoyed the science activities we carried out. Not only would children enjoy the interaction with the materials but would be making connections and learning facts without realising as well as developing investigative skills. The fruit tree and why, why, why chains were interesting and enjoyable too. I think this is a good way to break down the information and see the links between natural events, human activity, and politics very clearly.
These websites offer some interesting activities for children.
Some interesting literature.
A film for younger children.
A film more suited to upper school.
So far within this module I have developed my knowledge most with this topic. I have realised especially with regards to the politics behind a crisis how little I understood and feel better informed and equipped to educate young minds on the subject. I have also discovered how several different ways of learning can enhance a learning experience and so have developed my knowledge skills in delivering information of a sensitive nature in a child friendly structure. Furthermore, I have significantly improved my skills in social justice. This means that I can more confidently teach about difficult subjects such as global disasters knowing that I am secure in my values and practice and will be teaching good ethics for future generations.
Halocha, J. (2012) The Primary Teachers Guide to Geography Whitney: Scholastic
Middleton, N. (2013) The Global Casino (5th Edition) London Routledge pp 488-518
Satternaite D. (2011), Why is community action needed for disaster risk education and climate change adaptation? Institute of Development studies [online] Available: https://www.eldis.org/document/A59354 [Accessed: 2nd November 2019].
Nix-Stevenson D. (2013) Human Response to Natural Disasters SAGE Open. pp.1-12.