Levi Gahman, Lecturer: Radical Geography and Critical Development Studies, The University of the West Indies: St. Augustine Campus and Gabrielle Thongs, Assistant Lecturer, Geography Department, The University of the West Indies: St. Augustine Campus
Just got to love that first title there, don’t you?
These are not isolated instances of random bad luck. As University of the West Indies geographers who study risk perception and political ecology, we recognize the deep, human-induced roots of climate change, inequality and the underdevelopment of former colonies – all of which increase the Caribbean’s vulnerability to disaster.
Disaster risk is a function of both a place’s physical hazard exposure – that is, how directly it is threatened by disaster – and its social vulnerability, specifically, how resilient it is.
Across most Caribbean islands, hazard exposure is about the same, but research shows that poverty and social inequality drastically magnify the severity of disasters.
Haiti, where eight out of every 10 people live on less than $4 a day, offers an example of how capitalism, gender and history converge to compound storm damage.
The least capitalist economy in the area, Haiti, gets hardest hit by such disasters.
That’s not, obviously, the conclusion they draw, is it?