I recently re-read a fascinating paper by O’Brien, et al., titled "Climate Change and Disaster Management," published over a decade ago in the journal Disasters [2006, 30(I):64-80].
Definitions aside, what is important here is, in my opinion, that the decisions we make influence the severity of the impact of a natural hazard on our communities. “Investments and development activities are almost never risk-neutral.” The notion of defining a disaster as “failed development” raises a host of questions about why and how we often ignore (or minimize) the potential impact of a hazard event when, for instance, choosing a location for development or choosing how best to construct improvements in areas we know to be prone to natural hazards.
For those who lack the choices populations in more developed countries enjoy, “risk management cannot, of itself, address the underlying causes of poverty. But if approached from the standpoint of resilience, it can help to build those structures that will enable a greater degree of self-help. It is about helping people to help themselves. The mechanisms, resources and capacity do exist.”