People with Special Needs and Disasters: Person-in-Environment Model GIS Mapping and Multi-Stakeholder Collaborations

Name : Shigeo Tatsuki
Company : Department of Sociology, Doshisha University
Nationality : Japan
Position : Professor

: A series of heavy rainfall, typhoon and earthquake disasters caused a proportionately large number of deaths among the elderly in the year 2004 in Japan.  In response to these tragedies, the national government set up a series of committees to reduce damages and losses among the disaster vulnerable population.  The discussions in the committee led to a new conceptualization that disaster vulnerability was created due to lack of interaction between a person’s special needs and the environment’s capacity/responsiveness in times of disaster.  This paper demonstrated Kobe city’s Hyogo ward project which involved a questionnaire survey and GIS mapping of people with special needs (PSN) over various hazard layers.  This helped identifying the highest risk residents (approximately 155 individuals or 3.5% of the total populations of 4,400 PSNs in Hyogo ward) in terms of self-evacuation ability, social isolation, building weakness and hazard exposures.  GIS mapping of PSNs also helped practitioners and community members to become aware of which areas have more concentration of PSNs and thus more need for manpower mobilization in times of disaster.  The paper concluded that community-based multi-stakeholder collaborations along side with the “person-in-environment” model GIS mapping were the key to reduce hazard vulnerabilities among PSNs.

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