Social vulnerability refers to inequality of exposure to risk by making certain groups more prone to disaster than others. The disparity in exposure is as a result of social systems that play power relations within the society. Vulnerabilities may take the form of hazards and disasters. Natural hazards are natural occurrences that usually leave a destructive impact, while accidents are considered human-influenced risks. Social vulnerability takes shape with two versions of paradigms explaining social vulnerability. Understanding dominant and vulnerability models require knowledge of the critical elements of each paradigm.
The dominant paradigm is the most common view taken by practitioners and even researchers in approaching vulnerability. This paradigm takes into account natural hazards that humans have very little to do in mitigating or eliminating such situations. Risks are considered unfortunate events with nature to blame for every outcome of the natural circumstances. Dominant vulnerability paradigm has its fair elements which are all designed with relation to; nature, chance, time, technology, and demographics.
Nature is considered the primary cause of disasters. Many deaths are attributable to natural events that remain out of the human's ability to withstand or control. The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 claimed more than 300,000 lives and this figure is 100% linked to the natural disaster. Human history has very little value to disasters because they happen only within scientific realms (Yoon, 2012). The difference between the Chilean earthquake disaster and the Haiti disaster had to be different preparedness levels between the two separate nations. Specific locations around the globe are more prone to catastrophe primarily due to the given geography of the surroundings. The element of viewing nature as the root cause of disasters is enormous because of its unpredictability.
Natural disasters cut across any social class because their cause is not containable by through any known human efforts. Whether in the United States, Chile, or the East Asia region of Sumatra, disaster cares less of social groupings (IISD, 2012). What dominant paradigm advocates for is the preparedness of people because otherwise, we are just at the mercy of nature. Technology is offering complex and sophisticated solutions to avert disasters, but most of them are either inapplicable or far too stretching on human scientific knowledge. In reality, what technology is doing is reducing the time of awareness to facilitate preparedness to disasters. Dominant paradigm remains upheld that nature is unpredictable, and humans can only remain prepared for such kind of disaster.
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Social vulnerability is rooted in history in such that Disasters emerge from the inadequate response and a low level of preparedness by humans. Nature cannot be put into blame because humans can predict most of the natural hazards that destroy communities (Thomas, et al, 2013). The 2005 Hurricane Katrina's predictions put it as a category four poised to make a heavy landing on Carolina's coastline. Still, the response to such warnings usually takes social classes and levels of poverty into a subject. The aged and black communities living in New Orleans were the majority of the victims, a picture that paints distribution of inequality (Ingram et al, 2012). If indeed nature was to blame, then we should have a fair distribution of patterns.
Understanding nature plays a significant role in causing disasters is not enough, but the preparedness of the natural event is what reduces the risk. There is a need to promote a national level program in dealing with disasters. This type of program should take into account the diverse dimensions and demographics of society. Due to the lack of a proper response structure, cyclone Nargis claimed many unnecessary lives were exceeding 100,000 in Myanmar.
All indications are pointing to a pattern of poverty, disability, race, and social class playing a significant role in determining the level of resilience. The resilience between two different regions is a true reflection of how social vulnerability comes to be.