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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Leadership and Governance for Sustainability > Risk Management by Governance

The Economics of Disaster Prevention Go Beyond Prevention

Disaster preparedness and prevention can be married to community and economic development to get multiple results out of many mitigation and prevention projects.

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There's never a convenient time to think ahead about disaster prevention or preparedness. That's why the US faces so many economic "bubbles" and the resulting collateral damage. And that's why families have so little savings...etc. They just don't understand the savings that come from "hazard mitigation".

One US dollar spent by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on hazard mitigation saves an estimated US$ 4 on average in future benefits according to a study of FEMA grants (including for retrofitting, structural mitigation projects, public awareness and education and building codes).

Major disasters can have severe negative short-term socio-economic impacts. Disasters result, for example, in loss in productive capacity and thus output and employment opportunities. They may also create balance of payments and budgetary pressures, disrupt financial and credit markets and exacerbate poverty.

The economic case for a disaster risk reduction initiative is typically based on the need to reduce potential direct and indirect losses, rather than to generate a continual flow ofpositive benefits. As such, it can be difficult to estab- lish a demand curve for such projects. Instead, it may be more appropriate to base demand analysis on estimates of the scale of the disaster reduction intervention that would be required to reduce potential losses to acceptable levels (as defined within the context of the project) and/or ensure desired safety standards. Alternatively, it may be possible to establish a notional demand curve based on a user survey of willingness to pay.

Many precautionary measures also have ongoing benefits. For example, a flood retention pond and park can also serve as a community park that enhances quality of life on an ongoing basis. Lighting in a park to prevent crime can also extend recreational hours for families, especially during early sunset months.

By looking at the robust benefits of an emergency or disaster mediation project and adding a bit of design for additional benefits such as community enhancement, it is possible to spread the dollars being spent into several budgetary categories. Recreation. Safety. Health and exercise. Wildlife preservation. Urban cooling. Or even arts and local business support.

SOURCE: Wikipedia has a very comprehensive section on Crisis Management and Emergency Preparedness.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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