In natural disasters, it’s the poor who suffer

The terrific scientist-writer Anne Jefferson, who studies what happens when water meets earth, has an excellent post up today summarizing flooding around the world. The floods in Queensland have gotten the most attention in country, because (I suspect) the people are like us, plus they have the affluence and technology to post cool flood videos on the Internet.

Anne notes that Southern Africa’s flood troubles have gotten less attention:

Flooding in South Africa has gotten almost no international attention, despite the fact that floods have killed 120 people there and have caused disaster declarations in 8 of 9 provinces. Flooding has also affected Mozambique, where 13 people have died, and forecasts for continued heavy rains over the next several months have much of the southern part of the continent on alert. In some areas, up to 10 times as much rain as normal has fallen in the month of January. Tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed. Many of the lost homes are shacks belonging to poor Africans, because informal settlements are often located in low lying areas.

A reminder it’s the poor who suffer most.


  1. Yes, and some good resources for understanding both informal housing and the context of social vulnerability:
    Mike Davis’ “Planet of Slums”
    Environmental Change and Globalization: Double Exposures by Leichenko and O’Brien

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