Social vulnerability .
Instructions: After reading Chapters 5 and 6 of the Fundamentals of Emergency Management, discuss the demographics of social vulnerability. Write a minimum of 2 pages (not including cover page and reference list) on the topic. Describe the term social vulnerability and explain how emergency managers can use this information to their advantage during the mitigation, response and recovery phases of emergency management. How can failing to use this information complicate our emergency plans?
External research will generally be required in addition to the assigned reading. Please create your response in a Microsoft word document, following APA guidelines, and upload as an attachment for submission. Pages are to be double-spaced utilizing Verdana 12 point font text. The page requirements are exclusive of your reference list and cover page.
The term describes the inability of organizations, people, or societies to withstand the effects of the multiple stressors they are exposed to. Such stressors are caused by social interactions, systems of cultural values and institutions (VROUSALIS, 2013). Regardless of their socioeconomic standing in life, natural disasters affect everyone. For emergency managers, it’s their responsibility to ensure that not all victims experience the occurrence the same way. They recognize that people’s vulnerability to risk varies and depends on the assets they hold at the time. Assets, in this case, are in the form of emotional, physical, social, and financial assets. Understanding such demographic characteristics determines how a person absorbs, copes with, and recovers from a natural disaster.
Appreciating the social factors affecting an individual or a group gives the manager insight into what makes the group unique, hence develop appropriate strategies for, and respond to their needs. Therefore, by understanding what makes the group vulnerable, the managers have the potential to act in a way that strengthens the group or individual’s ability to handle and adapt to the situation in a resilient manner.
Three main social characteristics usually provide insight when handling hazardous events. These are the age of the victim, their income levels, and their race or ethnicity. The age factor comes in especially when the victim or group are above 65 years old. Such represents a significant segment of the population classified as vulnerable (Ranci, 2010). Among this group, the key causes of their vulnerability are immobility and difficulty in accessing information. Moreover, during natural hazards, people often require astute decision-making skills which reduce with time for the elderly.
Regarding income, poor households often bear the full brunt of the natural disasters due to their precarious locations. Moreover, they often lack the appropriate financial resources for preparation, therefore, leaving them exposed to impending catastrophes. Adding to their adversity is the fact that the poor often do not own vehicles and are therefore unlikely to evacuate disaster zones in time. Similarly, race and ethnicity form a very important indicator of social vulnerability since they reflect the challenges faced in integrating minority communities to larger ones. Artificial barriers such as cultural practices and language impede dialogue and engagement opportunities required for building respect and trust.
An emergency manager understands these social characteristics and their implications. In responding to the elderly, they try to answer the question on how the hazard affects them, prepare where the victims should go in case of a disaster and how they should get there. Failing to understand such is disastrous to the victims and reduces their chances of survival due to their limited physical and cognitive abilities (VROUSALIS, 2013).
Understanding income disparities and the
struggles the low-income earners face regarding transportation, housing, and employment will help managers
divert sufficient resources to areas such as transportation in case of a
disaster that requires urgent evacuation. Failure to grasp the impact of low
incomes may cause this segment of the population to suffer the most hence
creating a ripple effect on the entire
economy. Such can be in the form of a downward spiraling economy where the poor
are over dependent on welfare programs. Consequently, the government becomes
underfunded due to the loss of tax revenue (Ranci, 2010). Finally, effect
emergency management requires appropriate messages, messengers, and delivery
methods to manage events. Failure of the knowledge of such demographic may
prove costly in case of a disaster.
Ranci, C. (2010). Social vulnerability in Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
VROUSALIS, N. (2013). Exploitation, Vulnerability, and Social Domination. Philos Public Aff, 41(2), 131-157. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/papa.12013