oa Jamba : Journal of Disaster Risk Studies - An introduction to neglected disasters



This theme issue of takes up the question of neglected disasters. It is an important topic because the world is changing, disasters are changing, and theory is changing. All these changes call for a re-assessment of why some human suffering and social disruption receive attention from authorities, donors, researchers and the media, while some does not. Recent progress in both development studies and disaster studies provides tools for answering this question. Development and disaster studies date in their current forms to ways of thinking that were current in academic and policy circles in the late 1950s and 1960s. At that time the world was recovering from world war and former colonies of Europe were gaining independence. It was a world in which (with some exceptions) conflict was held in check in an uneasy cold war balance. It was also a world where a growing UN system held the promise of meeting humanitarian needs when they arose. That world is no more. 'Development' has changed. Today former colonial states have differentiated at two extremes: failed states and middle income developing ones. Super power balance is no more, and many local and regional conflicts rage. The United Nations system is stretched to breaking point by economic recession. All of this affects the range and nature of crises facing ordinary people and how these crises are perceived by outsiders.


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