Deconstructing Socionatural Disasters

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Last summer reminded us of the power of nature.  The wildfires that affected different regions, and the flooding, which took the lives of three people in Cajón del Maipo—and caused a two-day water outage in the Metropolitan Region—revived a sensation of adversity and abandonment that has usually come in the aftermath of the many earthquakes that have hit our country.  They also reminded us, perhaps even more so, of the long road that is ahead of us in terms of truly being prepared for socionatural disasters.

This distinction—socionatural vs. natural—is relevant because the drama of these types of events is not rooted only in the event itself, but also in the capacity for communities and specialized agencies to react.  The threats are natural and the disaster is social, and in the end, the tools that a culture can provide will determine how well society and its structure can reduce their impact.  This is why various dimensions must be considered when it comes to planning an appropriate response that is capable of reducing the vulnerability of the population.  The type of disaster is important, but so is the gender of those affected, the organization of the community, the number of disciplines involved, the poverty situation, and much more.

The articles of this dossier attempt to shed light on that complexity, and they deal with: the relationship between a certain development model that distributes unequally the benefits and the impact of socionatural disasters, the necessary transdisciplinary approach these events should have, the need for media outlets to develop protocols capable of regulating the treatment of information during emergencies, the need to advance in developing the institutional knowledge capable of minimizing the impact of disasters, and the gender approach, which should play a central role in identifying how disasters affect men and women differently.

Translated by Anthony Rauld

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