According to a joint statement issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MOCA) and the National Disaster Reduction Commission (NDRC) on October 10, natural disasters left 1,074 people dead or missing across China in the first nine months of this year. The map shows the eastern and central parts of China are highly prone to earthquakes, floods, landslides, typhoons and droughts.
Meanwhile, Zheng Guoguang, Director of the China Meteorological Administration, said the country would pay greater attention to mitigating the harm caused by natural disasters in rural areas.
As part of the new plan for disaster response, more than 22,000 weather service stations have been built in China and 437,000 rural weather messengers disseminate disaster warnings to rural residents. According to a document released in July by the Central Government, by the end of 2015, China will be able to release warnings from 15 minutes to 30 minutes in advance of most severe storms. After more than three years of reconstruction, most of the survivors of the Wenchuan earthquake have moved to new houses and reclaimed their lives. Zhang said the CAS-sponsored psychological counseling stations were first set up near temporary shelters built for survivors. Because of the lack of a dedicated psychological relief service, not enough professionals are trained to meet the demand in disaster-affected areas. Wharton alumni are capitalizing on a craft spirits industry that’s buzzing with growth and opportunity. The chart below (click to enlarge) depicts the 21 most devastating natural disasters between 1970 and 2010 in terms of number of victims (fatalities or missing). This disaster is an example of a “Perfect Storm” because of the combination of so many terrible things happening simultaneously.
As of this writing, it appears that Japan might be facing one of the most severe civil nuclear threats in an OECD country since the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979 and, of course, the Chernobyl explosion in the former USSR in 1986. Beyond damaging and destroying physical infrastructure, natural disasters can lead to outbreaks of infectious disease. Over the past few decades, the incidence and magnitude of natural disasters has grown, resulting in substantial economic damages and affecting or killing millions of people.
Geophysical disasters are the second-most reported type of natural disaster, and earthquakes are the majority of disasters in this category.
Geomorphologic disasters, such as avalanches and landslides, also are associated with infectious disease transmissions and outbreaks, but documentation is generally lacking. Infectious disease transmission or outbreaks may be seen days, weeks or even months after the onset of the disaster. The most documented and commonly occurring diseases are water-borne diseases (diarrhoeal diseases and Leptospirosis). An investigation conducted in 100 households after the 2001 earthquake in El Salvador showed that 137 persons out of 594 (22 percent) experienced diarrhoeal infections. Natural disasters and infectious disease outbreaks represent global challenges towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Each satellite has two charge coupled device cameras, with a 30-meter resolution and a 720-km width, on board. These facilities now serve nearly 85 percent of the country's rural regions, according to statistics from the China Meteorological Administration. Several NGOs also mobilized volunteer psychiatrists to offer service there, but budgetary constraints prevented them from playing a bigger role. Most of these catastrophes occurred in poor or developing countries where safety measures and warning systems are lacking.
The priority today is to ensure that the accident is properly handled so there is no or limited nuclear irradiation outside the facility.
While it is not clear how these events are interrelated, if at all, this certainly poses the question of whether other countries, or other communities, are prepared to handle quakes of similar magnitude. In this article, two UNU-IIGH researchers and colleagues review risk factors and potential infectious diseases resulting from the secondary effects of major natural disasters that occurred from 2000 to 2011, classify possible diseases, and give recommendations on prevention, control measures and primary healthcare delivery improvements.
The public health consequences of flooding are disease outbreaks mostly resulting from the displacement of people into overcrowded camps and cross-contamination of water sources with faecal material and toxic chemicals.
Outbreaks of infectious diseases may be reported when earthquake disasters result in substantial population displacement into unplanned and overcrowded shelters, with limited access to food and safe water.
The risk of infectious disease outbreaks in the aftermath of natural disasters has usually been overemphasized by health officials and the media, leading to panic, confusion and sometimes to unnecessary public health activities.
During this period, infectious diseases that are already endemic in the area, as well as newly imported ones among the affected community, may grow into an epidemic. Diarrhoeal diseases cause over 40 percent of the deaths in disaster and refugee camp settings. In Iran, 1.6 percent of the 75,586 persons displaced by the Bam earthquake in 2003 were infected with diarrhoeal diseases.
An evolving cholera epidemic was reported 9 months after the earthquake in Haiti, with a high fatality rate of 6.4 percent among the victims (of the 4,722 documented affected, 303 died).
Despite the vast number of deaths resulting from major disasters, no outbreaks resulting from corpses have been documented. Medical supply should be provided, and training of healthcare workers and medical personnel on appropriate case management should be conducted. No question, this accident will have an impact on the commercial nuclear energy industry worldwide. Global population growth, poverty, land shortages and urbanization in many countries have increased the number of people living in areas prone to natural disasters and multiplied the public health impacts. Flooding also is usually followed by the proliferation of mosquitoes, resulting in an upsurgence of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria. Investigations conducted in populations affected by flood disasters in 2000 in India and Thailand reported Leptospirosis epidemics. And, as if a massive earthquake and major tsunami were not enough, the quake also triggered an explosion in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s Unit 1 in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture.
Outbreaks have also been related to shared water containers and cooking pots, scarcity of soap and contaminated food, as well as pre-existing poor sanitary infrastructures, water supply and sewerage systems. Survivors of disaster present a much more substantial reservoir for potential infectious diseases.
The prevention and control checklist provided in our paper shows the measures to be undertaken in order to avoid infectious diseases following natural disasters.
Into a concrete blueprint for commercial have spent and are going to safety natural and their measures disasters spend on horse meals and you. For overall health factors and to decrease the need say could possibly be taken differently. Between January and September, natural disasters affected 480 million people nationwide, resulting in the evacuation or relocation of 9.12 million people. Fan said the country will make consistent efforts to improve its ability to prevent and mitigate disasters. Over the next five years the government will work to ensure aid reaches people struck by natural disasters within 12 hours.
To respond to natural disasters more effectively, China is expected to train over 2.75 million people in disaster prevention and emergency management by the end of 2015. Fan said disaster prevention and mitigation is an important part of the government's public services.
On May 10 of this year, a new national map of disaster-prone areas was released by the State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology at the Beijing Normal University.
According to Shi, the main aim of publishing the map is to make people throughout the country more prepared in the event of a sudden catastrophe. On March 10 of this year, Yingjiang County in Yunnan Province, a poverty-stricken area located near the border with Myanmar, was jolted by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake, which flattened thousands of homes and left 26 people dead and another 313 injured.
In order to improve its ability to prevent and mitigate disasters, the Chinese Government authorized the MOCA to establish the NDRC in 2002, which became functional in May 2003. On September 6, 2008, Huanjing-1A and Huanjing-1B, China's first two satellites dedicated to environment and disaster monitoring, were launched. This enables the two satellites to monitor a designated area multiple times and inform government agencies of potential disasters.
Eventually, these satellites will form a constellation, which will provide 24-hour weather monitoring. He said people living in vast rural regions are more vulnerable to natural disasters because they lack the equipment and knowledge needed to cope effectively with such hardships.
Zheng said the chief barrier to putting such information out even faster lies in the complicated process by which such alerts are approved. Programs to better coordinate the various means of transport and communication used in disaster response are also in the works, according to Zheng. Mass psychological assistance was first provided in China following the earthquake in Wenchuan.
Just after the Wenchuan quake, Zhang and his colleagues began drafting their long-term counseling plan for the millions of quake survivors. The CAS scientists can boast of many successes but the greatest, according to Zhang, is to make survivors realize the need for mental rehabilitation along with material and physical reconstruction. The treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients on such a large scale is unprecedented in Chinese history. Some educational institutions, especially universities, sent experts in mental therapy to the quake zone but they, too, stayed there only for brief periods. This chapter discusses natural hazards and the preparation of investment projects within the context of the agricultural sector in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A review of existing investment projects in Latin America and the Caribbean indicates that those in the agricultural sector are generally undertaken with little or no consideration of natural hazards. A combination of geographic location, climatic conditions, and limited capabilities for natural hazard assessment and disaster mitigation makes Third World nations more susceptible to the disasters natural hazard events pose than post-industrialized nations. In the following discussion, emphasis is placed on the need to apply the methods described in the formulation stage of new investment projects, rather than in the review of already prepared projects. Data from a variety of sources indicate that approximately 90 percent of all natural disasters worldwide occur in developing countries (Long, 1978).
In short, from 1960 to 1989 natural disasters caused over US$54 billion in physical damage in Latin America and the Caribbean. Besides the indirect social and economic impacts on a given region or sector, disasters can affect employment, the balance of trade, foreign indebtedness, and competition for scarce development investment funds.
Figure 2-1 shows, in simplified fashion, the impact natural disasters in the agricultural sector can have on the entire economy.
Figure 2-1 - Potential economy-Wide impacts of natural hazards in the agricultural sector in Latin America and the Caribbean3.
Figure 2-2 illustrates this approach incorporating another argument into the discussion: the relationship of human and economic losses to the severity of an event and the degree of vulnerability (or survival capability) of human and economic interests. Planning systems and planners in developing countries cannot always be held fully responsible for the inadequacy of the natural hazard assessment and mitigation measures implemented (see Chapter 1). On the other hand, planning systems and planners are responsible for some serious shortcomings of investment projects in hazard-prone areas. Survival capability depends on many factors, and mitigation can make a substantial difference in minimizing the effects of disasters. To facilitate the understanding of the subsequent sections, several key concepts are defined and explained below.1. Risk management refers to actions taken to reduce the consequences or probability of unfavorable events. An investment project is the use of capital to create assets capable of generating a stream of benefits over time.
Minimizing the effects of natural hazards on the agricultural sector, and on an entire economy, can reduce the vulnerabilities and increase the ability to survive natural disasters.
Integrated development planning is a multisectoral and multidisciplinary approach to generating plans and proposals for economic and social development. An integrated development planning study is composed of four basic stages: the Preliminary Mission, Phase I or the Development Diagnosis, Phase II or Project Formulation and Action Plan, and Implementation. Although most institutions do not require risk information in project preparation guidelines except at the engineering design stage, both integrated development planning studies and investment project preparation are improved when analysts incorporate natural hazard information into all stages of development planning.
The design of investment projects begins at this stage with the development of alternative project profiles. The critical factor for the successful incorporation of natural hazard considerations into the project formulation phase is the ability of project planners to use hazard information in the design. When project characteristics impede the adoption of non-structural mitigation measures, more costly structural mitigation systems should be explored as a way to reduce risks to a socially acceptable and economically feasible level.4.
The Implementation stage begins once the investment projects and the action plan of a development planning study have been determined. The implementation of investment projects is a critical phase in the successful incorporation of natural hazard considerations into the development planning process.
While risk aversion at the individual level is well documented, the question of whether or not government institutions should be risk-neutral has been the subject of controversy. It has been argued that although individuals are risk-averse, governments should take a risk-neutral stance because, given that project benefits and costs are spread over a large number of individuals in the society, the risk faced by each one is negligible. Suppose there are two projects under consideration in a coastal area of a developing country. In practice, most Latin America and Caribbean governments and their planning agencies lack awareness of the need to reduce the vulnerability of investment projects to natural hazards, and tend to disregard it in their evaluations.
National and international banking institutions also tend toward neutrality in the treatment of risks from natural hazards.
In dealing with governmental and societal attitudes toward natural hazards, planners can benefit from multicriteria analysis or, as it is sometimes called, multiple conflicting objectives analysis. Multicriteria analysis entails the establishment of a set of objectives and a subset of attributes representing alternative social, economic, political, and environmental goals which are to be fulfilled by specific projects. It is important to remember that regardless of the methods used in project evaluation, it is not planners but decision-makers who will ultimately rule on public investment options. Multicriteria analysis can be applied throughout the project cycle, from the profile stage to the feasibility study, but since it is effective in the early identification of more desirable projects and project components, its use at the beginning stages of project planning maximizes its benefits.
Economic or cost-benefit analysis is a method that evaluates the efficiency of public sector activities, permitting a comparison of the merits of different government projects over time. When private individuals consider whether or not to make an investment, they consider only the benefits that have a direct personal impact on them; this is financial analysis. In measuring the costs of a project, it is important that all of them be accurately reflected, including those that may not be immediately apparent. The analyst must also be aware that, owing to market distortions, the prices of inputs may not reflect their true valuation by society. Direct benefits of an agricultural project can result from an increase in the value or quantity of farm output and from a lowering of production costs. The consideration of natural hazard risks requires differentiating between the concepts of income stream and benefit stream of a project. The project analyst must choose the discount rate, and often more than one rate is used in a project. The borrowing rate is most commonly proposed when the country expects to borrow from abroad for investment projects. Several methods are available for evaluating the natural hazard components in the economic analysis of a project. The crudest procedure for incorporating risk into economic analyses is the use of a cut-off period (Mishan, 1982).
For very risky projects, the cut-off period might be set as low as two or three years, whereas for low-risk projects it would be much longer, say 30 years.
As an example, the cut-off period method could be applied to a ten-year, large-scale vegetable and livestock farming project. Another ad hoc way to reflect uncertainty in project analysis is to add a risk premium to the discount rate. A subjective decision on the discount rate can incorporate the information available on the possibility of a slow-onset hazard in addition to short-term, immediate impact hazards such as severe storms and flash floods.
In the previous farming example, any indication of flooding increases the risk of the project. This approach is preferable to the cut-off-period method because it includes information about the future benefits and costs. When there is no reliable information on probability distributions of hazards, two strategies from game theory can be useful: the maximin-gain strategy and minimax-regret strategy. To illustrate the maximin-gain approach, which derives its name from maximizing the minimum, suppose that a decision has been made to augment the previously discussed farming project with a structural mitigation measure aimed at reducing the effects of potential flooding. The maximin-gain strategy would result in choosing Project B, since its minimum benefit is $60 million, as compared to $30 million for Project A and $20 million for Project C. In a sensitivity analysis, the analyst changes the value of key parameters that are subject to risk to determine the effects on the NPV of a project. Sensitivity analyses can help to identify project elements that need further consideration and thus can be used at the project profile stage before a more sophisticated risk analysis is completed. The types of information that are useful for this analysis are event histories, climatological and meteorological data, and previous damage reports. In this example, corn yields would only have to decline from their expected value by 20 percent to make the project NPV equal zero.


One relatively simple way to obtain subjective probabilities is the triangular distribution method. Since natural hazards can affect both the benefits of a project (for example, by destroying crops) and the costs (for example, by damaging irrigation systems), in some cases it will be desirable to obtain probability distributions of natural hazard events.
In estimating the probability distribution of economic feasibility measures, such as NPV, only a limited number of variables are considered random or subject to fluctuations; others are considered fixed for the purposes of the analysis. After the probability distributions have been calculated, the mean or average values of each distribution can be compared to make a selection between projects, or between alternatives within a project. With mean-variance analysis, which can be applied in the prefeasibility stage of project development, projects can be compared by graphing the NPV probability functions. In Figure 2-11 Projects C and D have the same mean, but Project D has a greater dispersion around the mean, and thus is riskier.
A mean-variance analysis can be easily applied to the example of the flood control projects presented earlier.
Since risk management is concerned primarily with reducing losses, the left-hand side of a probability distribution is of more interest to an analyst than the right-hand side. The box above shows the following values: NPV = net present value, P = probability, C = critical threshold value, and a = small probability value.
Suppose the safety-first criterion is established as follows: maximize NPV subject to no more than a 20 percent chance that NPV will fall below $20,000. With the methods described in this section, projects can reflect the additional costs that natural hazards pose and the additional benefits resulting from mitigation measures. Natural hazards can have considerable human and economic impacts on the agricultural sector in developing countries. Because resources are scarce and costly, hazard mitigation actions should be focused and well articulated. In 1923, risk reduction measures in Japan were very poor, with almost no quake-proof construction.
The 1995 Kobe earthquake is considered to be the most devastating quake in recent history in terms of economic losses–$100 billion. This massive earthquake in Japan is one more in a tragic series of recent devastating quakes beginning with Haiti in January 2010, Chile in February 2010 and New Zealand last month.
Natural disasters can be split in three categories: hydro-meteorological disasters, geophysical disasters and geomorphologic disasters. The overwhelming majority of deaths immediately after a natural disaster are directly associated with blunt trauma, crush-related injuries and burn injuries. Phase (1), the impact phase (lasting up to to 4 days), is usually the period when victims are extricated and initial treatment of disaster-related injuries is provided.
Diarrhoeal epidemics are frequently reported following natural disasters in developing countries.
On the topic of outbreak and classification, one final note regarding the myth of infectious disease transmission from dead bodies: Still controversial and frequently overstated is the assumption that dead bodies pose a significant risk for the transmission of infectious diseases after a natural disaster.
National surveillance systems and the establishment of continual practices of protocol for health information management have to be strengthened. People who have lost a spouse or children often find it most difficult to recover from the psychological trauma. When I wrote on my own blog yesterday, a few hours after the quake hit and the 30-foot high tsunami started, “only” a few hundred people had been reported dead. It will take weeks to have precise estimates of the total direct (destruction) and indirect (nuclear threats, emergency relief, business interruption, stock decline, loss to tourism) economic losses.
Recent disasters have shown that even the most developed countries are vulnerable to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 and the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Unplanned and overcrowded shelters, poor water and sanitation conditions, poor nutritional status or insufficient personal hygiene are often the case. Floods are recurrent in many African countries, such as Mozambique, and usually lead to a significant increase in diarrhoeal disease incidences. Floods facilitate the proliferation of rodents and the spread of Leptospires in a human community.
In disasters, education on hygiene and hand washing, and provision of an adequate quantity of safe water, sanitation facilities and appropriate shelter are very important for prevention of infectious diseases.
Research shows that only 10 percent of Californians have quake insurance (due in part to quake insurance being a costly product, coupled with individuals’ beliefs that a quake “won’t happen to them”). Consequently, there are low levels of immunity to vaccine-preventable diseases, or insufficient vaccination coverage and limited access to health care services. The environment in which pathogens live in a dead body can no longer sustain them, since the microorganisms involved in putrefaction (decay processes) are not disease causing. Documentation of disease outbreaks and the public health after-effects of tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons) and tornadoes, however, is lacking. In Thailand, the 2004 Indian tsunami also contributed to a significant increase in diarrhoeal disease incidences. The government's aim is to keep the economic losses from such disasters to less than 1.5 percent of annual GDP.
Current disaster relief regulations require the victims should be guaranteed necessary supplies such as water and food within 24 hours of the occurrence of a disaster. But instead of providing counseling immediately, his institute's staff members first surveyed the area to understand the survivors' needs. Ministries of health, civil affairs and education did organize rescue and relief operations that included psychological counseling, but their budgets didn't make allocations exclusively for treating PTSD cases. After the Wenchuan quake, medical teams that included psychiatrists were sent to help survivors.
It includes a summarized review of key concepts and policy issues and of selected project formulation and appraisal methods which can be used to incorporate natural hazard information into investment project preparation. Furthermore, the agricultural sector in these countries is often the most vulnerable and least able to cope with natural hazards in terms of infrastructure and institutional support. While the information available on the amount of national and international funds committed to reconstruction in response to each disaster is limited, the need to redirect funds to post-disaster work curtailed the availability of funds otherwise targeted for new investment.2.
Internally, farm products provide food for the urban population and primary inputs to industry. A physical event, such as a volcanic eruption, that does not affect human being is a natural phenomenon but not a natural hazard.
Losses from a severe event may be no worse or even less than those from a milder event if the former occurs in an area where both the population is adequately prepared to respond and the physical structures are designed and built to withstand its impact.
Irrigation systems, roads, reservoirs, dams, and other infrastructure facilities are prime examples.
While planners and planning systems are not responsible for some problems associated with natural hazards, they can exert influence in correcting some of the shortcomings.
In economic terms, this refers to a decline in income due to losses resulting from a natural hazard. It requires a determination of both the consequences of an event and the likelihood of its occurrence. Similarly, natural hazard management refers to activities undertaken to reduce the negative effects of natural hazards.
Agricultural investment projects include land settlement, agricultural extension, irrigation, and soil conservation.
This can be achieved by incorporating natural hazard information into the preparation of agricultural investment projects.
It brings together issues concerning various sectors and analyzes them in an integrated fashion vis-a-vis the needs of the population and the characteristics of the natural resource base. Guidelines for the use of natural hazard information in project preparation are listed in Figure 2-3 and discussed below. This information should be used to define the study area, the objectives and characteristics of the study, and the preparation of the intended work program.
Risk maps and hazard event frequencies should be consulted in order to identify the area's problems and opportunities. A project profile should include project objectives and principal characteristics, rough estimates of costs and benefits, and a preliminary identification of alternatives for design and implementation. This phase includes prefeasibility and feasibility analyses and is based on a standardized project formulation methodology. The identification of cost-effective mitigation measures that will significantly reduce risks is of crucial importance. Essentially, all structural mitigation measures have a direct cost that must be added to the project under consideration. Depending on the nature and scope of the overall study and of the individual projects selected, implementation can be simultaneous with or preceded by the implementation of sectoral and regional support programs and the development of legal and institutional frameworks. All the efforts made in the previous stages will be lost unless the projects are carefully monitored throughout the implementation process to ensure that structural mitigation measures are adhered to and non-structural mitigation measures have been selected and adopted.
This implies that governments should be indifferent between a high-risk and a low-risk project provided that the two have the same expected net present value (NPV) (Arrow and Lind, 1970). Political, financial, economic, and social costs of natural hazard assessments and mitigation may not always be less than their benefits. They are generally more concerned with how macroeconomic and political factors may affect a government's overall repayment ability than with the effect of risk factors on cost recovery.
This method has been used in environmental assessments and is gaining increasing acceptance for the incorporation of societal goals and priorities into the selection of investment projects. The relevant social groups (government, interest groups, community leaders, etc.) participate in establishing the objectives and attributes and placing discriminatory weights on them.
Multicriteria analysis forces decision-makers to state their evaluation criteria explicitly.
A number of techniques are available, and analysts should choose the one best suited to each case. In economic analysis the societal perspective is taken, incorporating all benefits and costs affecting society.
The economist or planner carrying out the analysis should work with other specialists such as agronomists, engineers, and hydrologists to ensure that all relevant factors are taken into account and that technical and institutional relationships are property reflected. The benefits from natural hazard mitigation can be measured in terms of income losses avoided. A flood control project may raise the value of farmland in the protected area, but since this higher value reflects the increased output potential of the land, counting it as a benefit would result in counting the benefits of the project twice.
While the income generated by a project is a major component of the benefits, it does not reflect certain essential variables.
For financial analysis, the discount rate is usually the rate at which the firm for which the analysis is being done is able to borrow money. Financial rates of interest, however, are generally too low to justify their use in economic analysis, and may even be negative in real terms when the rate of inflation is high. After benefits and costs are evaluated and a discount rate is selected, this equation will indicate the NPV of the project under consideration. A benefit-cost ratio greater than one indicates that the discounted benefits exceed the discounted costs. The underlying logic is that the benefits and costs are so uncertain beyond the cut-off date that they can be ignored in determining project feasibility.
The most useful data are a list of historical natural disasters or episodic information, meteorological records, land-use maps, agricultural crop maps, and previous damage assessments.
It is more difficult to establish a cut-off period in the case of slow-onset hazards such as droughts or desertification. This project may have a high risk if the area is subject to periodic flooding, which would damage crops and destroy livestock. Too short a cut-off date can ignore economic information associated with much of the project's life, since it discards all information beyond the cut-off period. The effect of increasing the discount rate is to give less weight to the increasingly uncertain costs and benefits in future time periods (Anderson et al, 1977). The same type of information that is useful for a cut-off period can be used to determine the discount rate. If normally a discount rate of 10 percent for benefits is used, the discount rate might be increased to 12 or 15 percent, as shown in Figure 2-6.
However, the risk adjustment of the discount rate is arbitrary, and the approach does not recognize risk differences across project components.
Both can be applied in the early stages of project formulation as the necessary minimum of information-records of historical events, climatological and meteorological data, and previous natural hazard damage records-becomes available. Three alternative flood control projects, Projects A, B, and C, equal in cost, are under consideration (Anderson and Settle, 1977). The maximin-gain strategy is based entirely on security and has the drawback of being very conservative: even if the benefits of A and C were 10 times larger than those of B under heavy rainfall conditions, Project B would still be selected.
Usually, the values are changed one at a time, but sometimes they are changed in combination with one another.
These data assist economists in estimating percentage variations in parameters from previous hazard information. With the aid of a personal computer or even a hand calculator, a sensitivity analysis can be performed on each cost and benefit to determine their effects on the rest of the project.
These are the values of the key variables at which the NPV of the project becomes zero or the benefit-cost ratio falls below one. On the other hand, labor costs could increase up to 60 percent before the NPV falls to zero. The probability distributions may be based on the subjective assessments of experts or on historical information such as episodic, climatologic, meteorologic, and agronomic data. Probabilistic information can be obtained for any type of natural hazard with measurable magnitude and frequency, but of course the quality of the information can vary widely. The variables that are allowed to fluctuate can be determined either by making a sensitivity analysis to identify those that are important or by observing those that fluctuate widely.
But using averages alone ignores the relative risks of the projects, even though this information is available from the already prepared probability distributions. In Figure 2-10, Project A and Project B have similar probability distributions-that is, they have the same risk-but the distribution for Project B is further to the right, indicating that the average NPV is greater.
If only the mean values of the projects' NPV are considered, society will be indifferent between Projects C and D. The information needed includes historical data on past flood events-magnitudes and frequency of occurrence-from which statistical means and variances can be calculated to provide sufficient data for determining the probability of flooding.
If the distribution is symmetrical, as is normal, decisions based on the variance will be suitable for risk management because negative and positive fluctuations around the mean are equally likely. The decision criterion is to maximize expected NPV subject to a constraint that there is only a small probability that it will fall below some constant value.
The project planner can decide what level of NPV is the absolute minimum for the project to continue.
Figure 2-13 summarizes the relationships between these methods and the investment preparation process.
Since these and other forms of risk can make the outcome of development projects uncertain, they need to be considered early in the development process. Case Report on Hurricanes David and Frederick in the Dominican Republic (Geneva: UNDRO, 1980). Hydro-meteorological disasters, like floods, are the most common (40 percent) natural disasters worldwide and are widely documented.
Phase (3), the recovery phase (after 4 weeks), is the period when symptoms of victims who have contracted infections with long incubation periods or those with latent-type infections may become clinically apparent. In recent decades, Japan has done an enormous amount of work to make its infrastructure and construction much more resilient to quakes. According to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, the cameras can jointly scan and produce an image of China's entire territory in two days. After Hurricane Katrina, it seemed as though the question of how to better manage and finance large-scale catastrophes would be seriously considered by the highest level of decision makers. Epidemics among victims are commonly related to polluted water sources (faecal contamination), or contamination of water during transportation and storage. Public health responders should set up a rapid disease risk assessment within the first week of the disaster in order to identify disaster impacts and health needs. Increased risk factors and outbreaks were also reported after Typhoon Nali in China and Taiwan in 2001.
But the government is establishing a fast track for approving the release of disaster alerts and that system will be used at times when extremely bad weather is forecast to strike an area.
But those psychiatrists were gathered from hospitals across the country and stayed in the quake zone for only a short time. Considering the estimated US$670 billion in investments that will be necessary in this sector between 1980 and the year 2000 (FAO, 1981), there is a great need for an improved understanding of natural hazards, their assessment, and their management.
When Hurricanes David and Frederick struck the Dominican Republic in 1979, they caused an estimated US$342 million in damage to the agricultural sector (UNDRO, 1980), destroying 80 percent of all crops and 100 percent of the banana crop. One of the main differences between losses suffered by industrialized and less developed countries is the extent to which natural hazards and mitigation measures have been considered in the development planning process. In these cases, where the system of constraints and parameters is less complex than in urban planning, planners should be able to incorporate more information and have greater control over decision-making.


The following section discusses the process of integrating natural hazard information into the preparation of investment projects. For example, the probability of a hurricane in any given year could be 0.1, or 10 percent, if hurricanes have struck in two of the past 20 years.
Here risk will be used more generally to refer to uncertainty in the variables used in economic planning. For example, a risk assessment of the potential economic effects of an earthquake on an agricultural project would require an estimate of its impact on farming activities and structural components, and of the probability of earthquakes in the region during the life of the project.5. For example, a farmer may choose to plant a windbreak along a field to reduce the chances that wind will damage his sugar crops. How it is done, and its relationship to an integrated development study, are discussed in this section. Appropriate natural resource use along sound environmental management guidelines seeks to maximize development opportunities while minimizing environmental conflicts (see Chapter 3). The information needs of the four development planning study stages are described in the box below.
At the feasibility analysis level, available information can be complemented by specific hazard assessments and used to further refine cost and benefit calculations.
When risk information is not included until the feasibility analysis stage, it is usually too late for anything but remedial actions.2. These activities should reflect the natural hazard information collected between the Preliminary Mission and the Development Diagnosis stages of the integrated development planning study. The prefeasibility analysis involves a preliminary evaluation of the technical and economic viability of a proposed project: alternative approaches to various elements of it are compared, the best are recommended for further analysis, and investment and operating costs are estimated. Not every mitigation measure should be implemented-only those whose benefits exceed their costs. Non-structural measures typically concentrate on identifying hazard-prone areas and limiting their use. Given the prevailing lack of awareness of risks from natural hazards, additional costs will appear unjustified vis-a-vis expected costs and benefits. Governmental decisions should be based on the opportunity cost to society of the resources invested in the project and on the loss of economic assets, functions, and products. While most decision-makers will give low vulnerability a high priority in project selection for economic or political reasons, natural hazards will not always be considered in the final decision.
This integrated, interdisciplinary approach to planning has been advocated by the OAS (OAS, 1984).1. If a government subsidy lowers the cost of the fertilizer used in the project, the economic analysis must add the amount of the subsidy to the market price of the fertilizer to reflect its true cost to society. For instance, income and job stability from the project and associated enterprises might be severely affected by a hazardous event, but merely adjusting the income stream to the uncertainty associated with natural hazard events will not reflect the economic and social losses that would accrue from income and job disruption. The need to discount future costs and benefits arises because a given amount of money is worth more today than in the future: money today can earn interest between now and then. In economic analysis, three alternatives for the discount rate are suggested: the opportunity cost of capital, the borrowing rate, and the social time preference rate (Gittinger, 1982). The social time preference rate differs from the opportunity cost of capital in that it assigns a different (usually lower) discount rate for public projects than for private ones, given that society has a longer time horizon.4.
The economic criteria used to determine the value of a project are (a) whether the NPV is positive and (b) whether the NPV is higher than that of alternative projects. The cut-off period should be determined at the prefeasibility stage of project preparation. This may be particularly important when considering the sustainability of economic returns from a project as resources, renewable or non-renewable, are depleted after the cut-off period. This is consistent with what has been observed in the private sector: managers generally require higher internal rates of return for riskier investments. More rigorous and defensible approaches which are capable of quantitatively assessing the uncertainty of benefits and costs over time are discussed below.c. From this information it is possible to estimate the comparative benefits of equivalent alternatives under varying degrees of natural hazard severity.
For convenience, it is assumed that there are two possible scenarios-heavy rainfall and normal rainfall. Using the same example as above, if heavy rainfall does occur Project C would result in the greatest benefit, $150 million. This can be useful when the available information indicates how much each parameter should be changed (Irwin, 1978). For example, a sensitivity analysis performed on crop yields may demonstrate that if production falls by 40 percent in the first year as the result of an intermediate-level flood, the overall project benefits may be greatly decreased, or it would take much longer to recover the costs. For example, if adequate data are available, the probability distribution for crop yields can be estimated from historical farm or experiment station records. The mean and variance of the probability distribution can then be estimated (Anderson et al, 1977). However, if society considers this a critical project and cannot afford to have it give low yields, Project C will be preferred, since there is less chance that the NPV will fall below the mean.
However, some real-world phenomena of interest to risk analysts appear to follow distributions that are skewed in one direction or the other.
For example, the decision-maker might choose the project with the highest expected NPV as long as the probability of its falling below zero is less than 5 percent (Pandey, 1983). As the graph indicates, the probability is 40 percent for Project A and 15 percent for Project B. If the minimum acceptable NPV is $1 million and the probability of falling below that is 40 percent, 20 percent, and 70 percent, respectively, for the different flood control projects, the one with the smallest probability might be preferred.
Some of the key considerations for incorporating natural hazards into the evaluation of investment projects are listed in the following box.
For this to happen, a large effort will be required to modify current project formulation and evaluation practices.
It is common to see the international community, NGOs, volunteers, experts and the media leaving a disaster-affected zone usually within three months, when in reality basic sanitation facilities and access to basic hygiene may still be unavailable or worsen due to the economic burden of the disasters.
The Japanese Perfect Storm is just the latest reminder that we could be next on the extreme event list.
A rapid assessment conducted in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami showed that 85 percent of the survivors in the town of Calang experienced diarrhoeal illness after drinking from contaminated wells.
This would be many more victims than the major Kobe quake in 1995, in which 6,434 people lost their lives. There are a few situations, such as deaths from cholera or hemorrhagic fever epidemics, that require specific precautions, but families should not be deprived of appropriate identification and burial ceremonies for their dead relatives from disasters.
As a result, agricultural production fell 26 percent in 1979 and continued to be down 16 percent in 1980.
Earnings from internal and external markets provide capital for new investment in the economy.
But even where sufficient hazard risk information was available, projects have been undertaken without minimum mitigation measures.
For the purpose of decision-making, however, probabilities are rarely based strictly on historical information but are usually adjusted to take account of currently available information may be then referred to as subjective probabilities. For instance, in assessing the benefits and costs of a planned irrigation project, prices and yields of agricultural crops may fluctuate during the life of the project. The creation of an integrated development planning study is a complex process, within which the preparation of investment projects is only one step. From the start of the project planning process, planners might want to avoid designating these areas for agricultural activities requiring extensive capital investment and propose instead an alternative land use less sensitive to flooding. Examples include land-use zoning, the selection of building sites, tax incentives, insurance programs, relocation of residents to remove them from the path of a hazard, and the establishment of forecasting and warning systems. This does not mean that non-structural mitigation measures will add no cost to projects or society, but that in an area subject to flooding, for example, the economic and social costs of measures such as zoning policies and crop insurance are likely to be much lower than those of large-scale flood control systems in terms of initial cost, operation, and maintenance. In view of the responsibility vested in the public sector for the administration of scarce resources, and considering issues such as fiscal debt, trade balances, income distribution, and a wide range of other economic, social, and political concerns, governments should must not be risk-neutral.
While this attitude makes sense for the bank because it grants loans against overall government credit worthiness and does not share the risk of any individual project, it does not necessarily make sense for borrowing nations.2. The costs of natural hazard vulnerability reduction, both structural-canal systems, dams, dikes, windbreaks-and in some cases non-structural are direct costs.
An investment of US$100 at an annual interest rate of 10 percent will be worth US$121 at the end of two years.
Probably the best is the opportunity cost of capital, which is the rate that will result in the utilization of all the capital in the economy if all possible investments that yield as much or more in return are undertaken.
Another way to compare benefits and costs is to set the equation equal to zero and solve for the value of r. The methods used when limited information is available can be applied at the project profile and prefeasibility levels of analysis.
In addition, satellite photography of the impacts of natural hazards can be useful in deciding on a cut-off period.
If benefits and costs are highly variable beyond the cut-off date, there are more appropriate methods which can address the risk of benefit-cost variability.b. A variation of this is to add a premium to the discount rate for the benefits and subtract a premium for the costs, a procedure consistent with the fact that hazards decrease benefits and increase costs. If heavy rainfall occurs, the NPV of benefits from the three projects are: Project A = $100 million.
If Project A was selected, the regret or forgone benefits from not selecting C would be $50 million ($150 million minus $100 million) and from not selecting B would be $30 million ($150 million minus $120 million). Where these data are not available, as is often the case, subjective probabilities can be elicited from farmers, extension agents, or agronomists. Subjective distributions of yields can be provided for projects with or without natural hazard mitigation measures. The comparison of Project C with Project E is less clear-cut: Project E has a much higher mean than Project C, but its variance is also greater.
It can also be used to calculate the probability distribution of the NPV of alternative flood control projects and, in turn, the means and the variances of the projects' NPV. For example, corn yields may average 100 bushels per acre, and a drought that occurs every five years could cause yields to fall to zero, but there will probably never be yields fluctuating as far above the mean as 200 bushels. Given the geography of the island and the omnipresence of quake risk, this is part of Japanese culture. Practically, prompt and adequate prevention and control measures, and appropriate case management and surveillance systems are essential for minimizing infectious disease burdens. In areas where there are no human interests, natural phenomena do not constitute hazards nor do they result in disasters. And last, the planning process takes place within the prevailing economic, political, social, technological, and cultural parameters of a society. It is not uncommon for an area periodically devastated by hurricanes or earthquakes to be rebuilt again and again in the same way. For example, the observation that tropical storms have recently occurred in other parts of the world can result in the assignment of a higher subjective probability to a local storm than would be indicated by the historical frequency.2. These fluctuations can be caused by natural hazard events, but can also be caused by changing market conditions and weather cycles.3. Or planners might want to consider hazard mitigation practices to reduce the risk to acceptable levels.
Figure 2-4 presents some examples of structural and non-structural mitigation measures relevant to the agricultural sector.
Furthermore, the agricultural activities that have been the most affected by natural hazards are large-scale agricultural development projects. The assessment of potential benefits would be erroneous if it attributed all the increase to the project, since some of it would have occurred anyway (Howe, 1971).
In the case of a project that includes mitigation measures, the economic analysis should include the added benefit of avoiding losses. Future benefits and costs must be discounted in order to express them with a common denominator-today's dollars or present value. The opportunity cost of capital cannot be known with certainty, but in most developing countries is considered to be between 8 and 15 percent in real terms. Those using probabilistic information are usually used in feasibility studies, but may also be used at the prefeasibility stage. If the rainfall is normal instead of heavy, Project B would produce the most benefits, $60 million. Clearly, there is a trade-off between a higher expected NPV and the acceptance of greater risk. This analysis enables the project planner to view the variance, or the risk, of the NPV resulting from flood events.b. Thus, analysts may want to choose a decision criterion that focuses on the lower tail of a distribution. If there were other projects with less than a 20 percent chance of having an NPV smaller than $20,000, then the one with the highest NPV would be recommended for implementation. If natural disasters are to be reduced significantly and consistently, not just in isolated projects, changes will also have to come about in government agencies, development assistance agencies, banking institutions, scientific communities, and attitudes toward natural hazards.
Japanese kids are regularly instructed on what to do in the event of an earthquake and how to survive if they are trapped in a building as a result. Japan has one of the highest levels of disaster preparedness—and certainly so for earthquake preparedness—among OECD countries.
Finally, agricultural employment generates an increased demand for consumption goods and services from urban sectors. This definition is thus at odds with the perception of natural hazards as unavoidable havoc wreaked by the unrestrained forces of nature. Other disasters occur routinely as a direct consequence of improper human intervention in areas with previously stable ecosystems. For a more detailed discussion of mitigation measures related to specific hazards, see Chapters 8 through 12.
Since the returns on Project B are more stable, the participants directly involved might prefer the project with the lower NPV.
In areas that are growing rapidly, it is particularly important to ensure that benefits and costs are properly accounted for and do not include changes that would have taken place without the project. If the rainfall is normal, the projects will provide irrigation and other discounted benefits of $30 million, $60 million, and $20 million, respectively.
In that case the forgone benefits would be $40 million for Project C and $30 million for Project A.
The decision-maker, not the analyst, will have to decide what weights to apply to higher mean NPV versus greater risk.
An additional advantage of such an approach is that it lends itself more easily to discussions of minimizing losses, which can be useful when considering hazard mitigation measures. Without a doubt, the availability of timely and adequate information will be a key factor in making these groups aware of the human and economic significance of disasters and of the necessity to support hazard mitigation at different levels. While the quake’s epicenter was located several hundred miles east of Japan, the destruction and flooded areas resulting from the tsunami are truly large-scale.
This is the conclusion of our recent book, co-authored with my colleague Howard Kunreuther and several others, At War with the Weather. Urban growth and rural exodus are important considerations in the management of natural hazards, since they result in overcrowding of peripheral urban areas and increase the probability of disasters in these areas as a result of floods, landslides, earthquakes, and other hazards. It shifts the burden of cause from purely natural processes to the concurrent presence of human activities and natural events. The following box lists the key elements for incorporating natural hazards into agricultural investment projects. Furthermore, they would probably be unimpressed by arguments about the merit of societal risk sharing, since the risk (the variation in NPV) that their community directly bears from these projects is rather large. The benefits will be greater in the case of heavy rainfall, because the primary benefit is the prevention of flood damage. Now considering both possible weather conditions, heavy and normal rainfall, the maximum regret would be $50 million, $30 million, and $40 million respectively for Projects A, B, and C. Safety-first criteria can be applied to relatively frequent natural hazards, such as floods and severe storms, but they are not as useful for low-frequency catastrophic events such as volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. As intermediaries, development assistance agencies should take advantage of their inherent capabilities and assume a leading role in this process. In spite of a well documented history of seismic activity, economic and technological constraints and complex political, social, cultural, and demographic elements impede the introduction of non-structural mitigation measures. Therefore, the minimax-regret strategy would lead to a choice of B since it has the smallest maximum regret, as is shown in Figure 2-8.d.



A kitten meowing
Fire evacuation plan template for home
Non hazmat chemicals
Severe thunderstorms are common


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