Transitions in cultural practices
Many of the inevitable changes that occur in all societies lead
to an increase in the societies vulnerability to disasters. Obviously, all
societies are constantly changing and in a continual state of transition. These
transitions are often extremely disruptive and uneven, leaving gaps in social
coping mechanisms and technology. These transitions include nomadic populations
that become sedentary, rural people who move to urban areas, and both rural and
urban people who move from one economic level to another. More broadly, these
examples are typical of a shift from non-industrialized to industrializing
One example of the impact of these transitions is the
introduction of new construction materials and building designs in a society
that is accustomed to traditional materials and designs. This often results in
new materials being used incorrectly. In disaster prone areas, inadequate new
construction techniques may lead to houses that cannot withstand earthquakes or
wind storms (see the following figure).
Figure 1.5 New house badly
built using modern materials.
Compounding this problem is the new community where the disaster
survivors find themselves may not have a social support system or network to
assist in the relief and recovery from the disaster. The traditional coping
mechanisms may not exist in the new setting and the population becomes
increasingly dependent on outside interveners to help in this process.
Conflicting as well as transitional cultural practices can also
lead to civil conflict, for example, as a result of communal violence triggered