APPRAISING DISASTER MITIGATION OPTIONS
One of the main uses of risk
analysis is to assist in choosing between different mitigation options, all of
which may be costly to apply, though beneficial in the longer term.
Cost benefit analysis may be used to
compare different strategies if the costs are the extra costs of introducing
mitigation measures while the benefits are the reductions in expected losses
expressed financially. Either a minimum cost or a maximum benefit/cost ratio
criterion may be used as a criterion of choice. One difficulty is the evaluation
of the benefit from saving a human life in financial terms
Alternatively an acceptable risk may be
defined in relation to other risks to individuals or society, the balanced risk
criterion. This method ignores the cost element.
A more sophisticated approach is to
quantify the costs and different types of benefits separately (economic, human),
and also calculate the cost effectiveness of each strategy in relation to
different objectives of mitigation. The approach is more in keeping with the
social and economic realities of decsion-making.
In any mitigation strategy the costs and
the benefits will be unevenly distributed within society. There may be some
losers. It can help to quantify the costs and benefits to different individuals,
but ultimately choosing an appropriate strategy is a political rather than a