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Handbook of International Social WorkHuman Rights, Development, and the Global Profession$
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Lynne M. Healy and Rosemary J. Link

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195333619

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333619.001.0001

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Natural and Human-Caused Disasters

Natural and Human-Caused Disasters

Chapter:
(p.226) 34 Natural and Human-Caused Disasters
Source:
Handbook of International Social Work
Author(s):

Michael J. Zakour

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333619.003.0034

A disaster is the disruption of a society's means for satisfying its needs for material and intangible resources. They are most likely to occur when a hazard affects vulnerable people living in an unsafe environment. Disasters disproportionately affect poor and socially marginalized populations, especially in less developed regions of the world. These communities also suffer greater numbers of disaster deaths and other casualties and lose a higher proportion of total household wealth compared with more affluent communities. This chapter begins with an overview of disasters as a social issue. It then discusses the relevance of disasters to international social work and the distribution of social resources in disasters. It concludes that vulnerability is not evenly distributed on a global basis, and factors such as ideologies of social stratification, low levels of development, rising sea levels, and population growth in nations with coastal areas are contributing to increased numbers of severe disasters in many regions. Social and development policies from the local to international levels are needed to promote sustainable development, which includes a substantial component of disaster mitigation.

Keywords:   disasters, social work practice, international social work, social resources, sustainable development, disaster mitigation

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