Disasters and the cycle of poverty: understanding urban, rural, and gender aspects of social vulnerability
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This paper examines the impacts natural disasters have on poor communities all over the world, and the ways in which poverty and social vulnerability exacerbate disaster risk. We cannot reduce the risks poor communities face from natural disasters without addressing poverty. To address poverty reduction and disaster mitigation objectives, this paper seeks to highlight the connection between the cycle of poverty and risk from natural disasters. The paper begins by illustrating the nature of disaster risk faced by poor communities in developing countries and in the United States. The paper then examines how various aspects of social vulnerability (urban poverty, rural poverty and gender) comprise disaster risk. A series of examples highlight impacts to vulnerable populations and the strategies undertaken by individuals, communities, non-governmental organizations, and governments to build capacity to reduce disaster risk through community organizing and economic development at a local level. Finally, the paper provides a series of recommendations to consider in implementing poverty reduction measures, including the role of capacity building in helping to alleviate poverty and reduce risk from natural disasters.