|Vulnerability 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.)|
|Part 3 - Appraising disaster mitigation options|
It is clear from the discussion above that the quantification of risks, future losses, and the costs and benefits of mitigation programs, though offering valuable information, does not lead to any clear-cut guidance for the development planner on which is the optimum risk-reduction strategy to choose. The costs and the cost-effectiveness of alternative strategies are a necessary part of the set of factors which need to be considered. But the intangibles, by their nature, cannot be quantified, yet they must be given proper consideration. Further, the actual degree of risk and benefit must be judged against the perceived risk, as indicated by the importance which the community attaches to any proposed expenditure on mitigation. The distribution of costs and benefits among different sections of society has also to be taken into account. Those who will pay and those who will benefit are not always the same people. Some people, such as land-owners or property owners may appear to lose more than they gain from mitigation strategies designed to protect the lives and incomes of the poorest and most vulnerable. It is possible to modify cost-benefit analysis so as to identify costs and benefits to different groups, but this exercise can lead to such a mass of data as to be unintelligible.
Ultimately, decision-making on risk reduction strategies is a political matter, on which all sections of the community must be consulted, and to which the normal political processes of social decision-making must be harnessed.
Ultimately, decision-making on risk reduction strategies is a political matter, on which all sections of the community must be consulted, and to which the normal political processes of social decision-making must be harnessed. To be adopted, any strategy must be not only affordable, but also both publically acceptable and institutionally manageable. A discussion of this important topic is beyond the scope of this module. Other modules deal in more detail with the implementation of disaster mitigation programs (see the module on Disaster Mitigation) and the interrelationship with development (see the module on Disasters and Development).
In conclusion it should be emphasised that vulnerability and risk assessment can make two principal contributions to the process of decision-making in disaster mitigation:
1. By considering risk as a framework for decision-making and quantifying costs and benefits, the decision-makers (both development planners and political representatives) can obtain a clearer indication of the potential benefits of alternative risk-reduction strategies, to complement other considerations in making a sound decision.
2. The same information can be used to increase the awareness of the general public, as an input to community meetings, education or public awareness programs; and thus it can help lower the threshold of acceptable risk, and make expenditure on risk reduction easier for decision-makers to justify.