ICT Affordability and Coping With Disaster: Coping With Disaster

ICT Affordability and Coping With Disaster: Coping With Disaster

Carl Adams (University of Portsmouth, UK) and Sam Takavarasha Jr. (University of Fort Hare, South Africa & University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3179-1.ch010


This chapter explores the impact of a disaster on communities from a development perspective and the corresponding importance of access to ICT. Poorer communities are often most vulnerable to disasters, a situation that can affect the economic development of such communities for decades. The chapter uses the UN's Sendai framework to emphasize the role of ICT in supporting communities throughout the different stages of disaster situations, towards long-term recovery and development. Some key themes emerge in the chapter, notably access to technology is a key support mechanism; a longer-term temporal perspective of such disasters indicates there are likely to be different waves of “disaster” refugees; the initial ones being classed as humanitarian migrants with all the humanitarian supports that they attract; whereas longer term any resulting “refugees” would more likely be classed as economic migrants. The chapter also explores longer term support mechanisms such as the role of remittances.
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Introduction: From Disaster To Migrants

The impact of disaster events are often far reaching. Natural and manmade disasters have the potential to cause tremendous harm to communities impacting them over many years (Dillon 2014; Jensen and Youngs 2014; Lauras et al 2015; Schryen and Wex 2014). For instance, consider an earthquake and a following tsunami which can directly impact many communities over huge areas with devastating consequences on the life and wellbeing of communities. It can damage and destroy housing and key infrastructures, and take decades for communities to rebuild and recover. There have been several examples in the last few decades. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that occurred on the 26th December with the epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia is one of the most dramatic examples. This ‘Boxing Day’ earthquake was one of the most powerful ever recorded and resulted in a very large tsunami that rapidly spread across the Pacific ocean, killing thousands of people in coastal communities in Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and devastating Island states in the Pacific. It even smashed through coastal villages and communities in Somalia four and a half thousand kilometres away, resulting in over 170 deaths and more than 50,000 displaced people from Somalia alone (Wikipedia 2004). In addition to the immediate humanitarian disaster there is often longer term impact across wider sets of communities with an influx of refugees in adjoining communities, disruption to economic activity across whole regions or disrupting global supply chains.

James Daniell’s (2014) work collates together details of over 35,000 natural disaster events around the globe since 1900 in his ‘CATDAT Natural Disaster Socioeconomic Loss & Indices Database. As the CATDAT database show, the human cost of disasters is huge. The economic cost is similarly large. For instance an analysis of the impact of these events globally results in an estimated seven trillion US dollars economic damage caused by natural disasters since the start of the 20th century (Phys.org 2016; KIT 2016; Daniell 2014).

Of course there is often a disparity of the impact of such disaster events for different communities with the poorer communities often being most severely affected for longer periods of time. The poorer communities often lack the resources to be prepared for such events, have less resilient infrastructures to withstand a disaster event and have fewer resources to respond to and rebuild from such an event. However, there has been considerable global attention focused on how to better support and prepare nations for disaster events, such as the Sendai frame discussed in the next section.

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