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close this bookVulnerability and Risk Assessment - 2nd Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1994, 70 p.)
close this folderPart 3 - Appraising disaster mitigation options
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDevelopment projects and disaster risk
View the documentCost benefit analysis
View the documentAlternatives to cost-benefit analysis
View the documentCASE STUDY - Part C
View the documentConclusion: social and political context
View the documentSUMMARY


This part of the module deals with the advantages and disadvantages of:

Cost benefit analysis in program design

Assigning cost to human lives saved or lost

Alternatives to cost benefit analysis

It also touches on the importance of the political context of mitigation planning.

Disaster mitigation measures take a variety of different forms, discussed in more detail in the Disaster Mitigation module in this training course. These include engineering measures to build more hazard-resistant structures, physical planning to locate important facilities away from hazards, economic measures to protect earnings, management structures to ensure protection measures are carried through and societal measures to encourage the public to support mitigation measures.

The higher the level of protection, the higher the cost of protection will be.

Measures like establishing building codes for new construction, strengthening existing buildings, land-use controls, and improving preparedness planning are generally costly to apply, whether it is individuals, private companies or the general tax-payer who will ultimately be responsible. Equally, it can be costly to fail to apply any mitigation measures in an area of known hazard, both in financial and in human terms. As a general rule, it can be expected that the higher the level of protection, the higher the cost of protection will be; but against this can be set the lower cost of future losses.

Clearly it is important to have some means of deciding on the right level of protection, and of choosing between alternative ways in which limited resources might be spent to improve protection. Questions to which answers are needed include: what is the appropriate level of hazard for which mitigation measures should be designed? Which facilities should be strengthened, and to what level? Should certain types of building development be prohibited in certain areas? How much should be invested in disaster mitigation or emergency planning measures?

Answers to these questions will depend on many social and political considerations to which no formal decision-making process can be applied. Nevertheless it has been argued earlier that access to more information can be an effective means of stimulating action to reduce risks. Even though the uncertainties in any estimate will be large, the quantification of costs and the estimation of corresponding benefits of disaster mitigation measures can at the very least illuminate the choices to be made and, in many instances, can greatly assist in the decision-making process, whether private or public.