This paper argues that vulnerability accrues from a wide variety of dynamic and long-term processes and that neglecting these processes—and failing to explore their links with poverty, risk, and disasters—tends to encourage disaster risk creation. It identifies seven examples of on-the-ground realities of long-term vulnerability within two clusters: (i) endangerment, which includes (1) environmental degradation, (2) discrimination and (3) displacement; and (ii) impoverishment, including (4) self-seeking public expenditure, (5) denial of access to resources, (6) corruption and (7) siphoning of public money.
The paper presents examples as vignettes, many contemporary and many rooted in historical contexts, to demonstrate the extent to which “vulnerability drivers” emanate from greed, the misuse of political and commercial power, mismanagement and incompetence amongst other behaviours. It asserts that detailed investigation into these contemporary and historical realities of the causes of vulnerability is needed in order to move forward to the tackling of disaster risk creation, instead of simply seeking disaster risk reduction. That would support the integration of disaster risk reduction within the many wider contexts that foment and perpetuate vulnerability.
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