Disaster Risk Reduction: A Critical Approach

In The Routledge Handbook of Disaster Risk Reduction Including Climate Change Adaptation
Book Chapter

From ancient civilizations to modern ‘ technological-driven’ societies, human history has shaped and been constantly reshaped by natural hazards. One of the several hypotheses behind the collapse of the great Indus Valley Civilization during 1800-1700 bc, is of a series of droughts followed by an eastward shift of the monsoon. Consequently, historians and palaeo-climatologists argued that the vibrant ancient cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa came to a complete halt due to extreme paucity of rain that virtually forced its dwellers to abandon these ancient cities. Likewise, a series of natural hazards – e.g., earthquakes and drought – between 1225 bc and 1177 bc led to the downfall of ancient societies, including the great Egyptian civilizations, heralding the beginning of the ‘dark age’ (Cline 2014). As people and communities continue to deal with a plethora of natural hazards, they also learn from, and adapt to, these experiences. This collective experience largely indicates, that, at least to some extent, the adverse consequences of natural hazards can be avoided through careful and timely planning; and that the solution lies in either containing the forces of nature, which in itself leads to problems and often transference of the hazard elsewhere, or by altering our own behaviour and addressing vulnerability. This has led to significant societal transformation over the years and as a result, the concept of ‘Disaster Risk Reduction’ (DRR) emerged and received recognition.