Social vulnerability refers to the inability and shortcomings with regard to a community's ability to react to external stressors on their health and life in general as well as their social existence. The external stressors can be outbreak of life threatening diseases as well as natural disasters that distract their social lives as well as putting their lives at risk. According to Wood, Burton & Cutter (2010), a socially vulnerable community is therefore indeed vulnerable to a number of factors that that might threaten the social existence of its members and their lives.
Efforts to mitigate social vulnerability are usually geared towards reducing the human suffering in various ways. Therefore, disaster management really have to understand information on the demographics of social vulnerability and the factors that help to increase it among any community in which they are working. During emergencies, such information is usually important in understanding, mitigation and responding to the social vulnerability. First of all, the emergency managers use the information to understand the most vulnerable people or groups of people in case of a calamity (Wood et al, 2010). The demographic data about the numbers of people affected in similar emergencies will help them to understand which group of people in the community is most vulnerable and this information will help their response efforts to be concentrated more to the helping of such groups in the community that has been threatened by the occurrence by the emergency at hand.
Secondly, information on social vulnerability also helps the emergency managers to become aware of the most important factors during the mitigation face of the managing the emergency. With a clear understanding of which factors increases the social vulnerability of any given community, it is easy to suggest the most appropriate ways of handling the factors that are seen to increase the vulnerability (Cutter, Emrich, Morath & Dunning, 2013). This way, the information about social vulnerability is crucial to the emergency managers because it gives them the overview of what to give importance in their planning for the effective dealing with the external factors that threaten the lives of the community being looked at.
Furthermore, emergency managers should also be aware of the factors that hinder recovery efforts in any emergency management situation. This can however only be understood by looking at the various documented information on the issues that hamper the appropriate recovery of any given community after an emergency. Information on social vulnerability can therefore be used to ensure that the recovery efforts employed in any situation by the emergency managers are those that can facility the effective recovery of the community affected (Flanagan, Gregory, Hallisey, Heitgerd & Lewis, 2011). It is the happiness of every emergency manager to ensure that the efforts during the response and recovery of any emergency are successful. However, for this to be so, it is crucial to be able to keenly examine and analyze the demographics of social vulnerability so as to ensure that each and every recommendation made for the plans of the emergency recovery are made with basis on the tangible facts that will help to alleviate failure in recovery in emergency management.
Failing to use information regarding the social vulnerability situations that have occurred before can is extremely dangerous because it can lead to the loss of more lives during the emergency response phase and also lead to the loss of property worth of millions and even billions of U.S dollars as the plans made to help in recovery may fail leading to big losses by the organization handling the emergency management.
Cutter, S. L., Emrich, C. T., Morath, D. P., & Dunning, C. M. (2013). Integrating social vulnerability into federal flood risk management planning. Journal of Flood Risk Management, 6(4), 332-344.
Flanagan, B. E., Gregory, E. W., Hallisey, E. J., Heitgerd, J. L., & Lewis, B. (2011). A social vulnerability index for disaster management. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 8(1).
Wood, N. J., Burton, C. G., & Cutter, S. L. (2010). Community variations in social vulnerability to Cascadia-related tsunamis in the US Pacific Northwest. Natural Hazards, 52(2), 369-389.
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