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close this bookDisaster Mitigation - 2nd Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1994, 64 p.)
close this folderPart 2 - Actions to reduce risk
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentReducing hazard vs reducing vulnerability
View the documentTools, powers and budgets
View the documentCommunity-based mitigation
View the documentThe menu of mitigation actions
View the documentSUMMARY

Reducing hazard vs reducing vulnerability

Protection against threats can be achieved by removing the causes of the threat, (reducing the hazard) or by reducing the effects of the threat if it occurs (reducing the vulnerability of elements at risk).

For most types of natural disaster, it is impossible to prevent the actual geological or meteorological process from occurring: volcanos erupt, earthquakes occur, cyclones and wind storms rage. The focus of mitigation policies against these hazards is primarily on reducing the vulnerability of elements that are likely to be affected. Some natural hazards can be reduced in certain circumstances. The construction of levees along the banks of certain rivers reduces the chance of them flooding the surrounding areas, for example, and it is possible to prevent known landslides and rockfalls from developing further by stabilizing land pressures, constructing retaining walls and improving drainage of slopes. The destructive agents of some natural hazards can be contained by engineering works or diverted away from important elements in channels and excavations. In some cases tree planting can be an effective way of either reducing the potential for floods and mudslides or to slow desertification. The potential for reducing the hazard level is given in each of the hazard profiles.

Obviously, preventing industrial accidents from occurring in the first place is the best method of mitigating future industrial disasters. Fire prevention, chemical spillage, technological and transportation accidents are all hazards that are essentially preventable. In man-made risks of disaster the focus of disaster mitigation is in reducing or preventing the hazards from occurring. Engineering system safety is an important part of reducing risks from industrial hazards. A growing body of knowledge from the experience of long-established industries is applicable to the newly-industrializing regions.