Disastrous events have significant consequences on both the economy and the well-being of people. It is important to recognize that such events can cause a series of negative impacts and create complex challenges to address.

When a disaster occurs, families can find themselves deprived of their sources of sustenance and income, resulting in the erosion of productive assets.

Access to essential services such as health and education can be limited or even compromised entirely, as well as the ability to have adequate nutrition. Furthermore, these situations often contribute to increasing social inequalities, making the most vulnerable segments of society more prone to difficulties in coping with the consequences of the event.

Disasters represent a cause of poverty, and although we do not yet have sufficient data to fully assess the effect of disasters on poverty, an increasing body of empirical evidence suggests that the well-being of families and the level of poverty are influenced and correlated with unexpected and traumatic events.

Peru has faced periods of extreme drought, such as in 2007 and 2008, which had negative consequences for agriculture and rural communities that rely on this form of economy. The rise in average temperatures and difficulties in water supply exacerbated these problems. In response to these challenges, efforts have been made to improve the country’s economic conditions through the exploitation of natural resources, particularly mining.

The use of mineral resources has contributed to sustained economic growth in Peru. In fact, a World Bank report on poverty indicated a significant decrease in the poverty rate in the country (6.3%) after an initial increase experienced in the early 2000s. However, it is important to note that the exploitation of natural resources, such as mining, also poses environmental and social challenges that require proper management and planning to ensure a balance between economic development and long-term sustainability.

Following the 2010 Cyclone Aila, the poverty rate increased from 41% to 63% among families living in coastal communities in Bangladesh.

A broader study conducted in 89 countries highlighted that disastrous events, even seemingly unrelated in nature, lead to poverty for approximately 25 million people each year, regardless of the nature of the event itself.

If we do not adopt a more sustainable development perspective and a more rational and humane distribution of wealth, we could potentially face an extremely concerning situation as it is projected that by 2050, hunger and child malnutrition could increase by up to 20% due to climate-related disasters.

To assess the human impact following a disaster, five indicators can be used:

  1. Living conditions, health, and education: an indicator based on the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that measures the effects of the disaster on access to water, sanitation, electricity, cooking fuel, housing, and basic household goods, as well as on health and education.
  2. Livelihood: measures people’s access to the resources necessary for their subsistence, such as income, productive assets, and resources.
  3. Food security: measured in terms of access to food security and families’ adaptation strategies.
  4. Gender equality: measures the differential gender impact, access to resources, and decisions made in relation to it.
  5. Social inclusion: measured in terms of unequal access, unequal participation, denial of opportunities, and identification of vulnerable populations.

It is crucial to adopt a responsible and sustainable approach to mitigate the impacts of disasters and work towards a more equitable and resilient society.

Through the assessment of Human Impact, vulnerable communities and populations that could be most affected by a disastrous event can be identified, allowing efforts to be concentrated on operational continuity and the adoption of specific preventive and mitigation measures to reduce the negative impact on these groups.

In summary, Human Impact Analysis contributes to promoting an inclusive approach that goes beyond the walls of a company, as it ensures that people affected by a disastrous event have equal opportunities to access essential services and that decisions made during emergency management are balanced and respectful of equality.

Author: Maria Teresa Cendamo Dolce

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