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All of the papers commissioned by the Roundtable fill important information gaps for Australia and internationally. The reports also reference an array of international studies and findings, some of which are laid out below.
Very few studies have looked at the relative benefits of natural disaster resilience measures at an aggregate level. Most of the available evidence assesses the costs and benefits of individual resilience projects.
The following international studies demonstrate that for each dollar spent on hazard mitigation in the short-term, more dollars are saved down the track.
Benefit-Cost Analysis of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grants (Rose et al., (2007)) and Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities (Multi-hazard Mitigation Council 2005). These reports demonstrate that FEMA's hazard mitigation activities for earthquake, flood and wind hazards deliver a benefit cost ratio of 4:1. That is, each dollar spent on hazard mitigation by FEMA provides around $4 of future benefits for the United States.
UK Environment Agency 2009, ‘Investing for the future’. This report assesses the costs and benefits of different levels of investment in managing coastal, tidal and river flooding and coastal erosion in the United Kingdom. It shows the benefit cost ratio from different investment scenarios ranges from 4 to 11, with the net benefit to society, based on 100 year costs and benefits, ranging from around £140 billion to more than £180 billion.
UNDP Maldives and Government of Maldives, ‘Cost Benefit Study of Disaster Risk Mitigation Measures in Three Islands in the Maldives’, 2009. This report provides a cost benefit analysis of implementing risk management measures to improve the safety of three islands in the Maldives. Results varied from a benefit cost ratio of 0.39 to 1.40 for Thinadhoo Island; 0.28 to 1.0 for Viligili Island; and 0.50 to 1.95 for Vilufushi Island.
- Cost-benefit Analysis of Natural Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries, Mechler, R 2005. This report reviewed evidence of preventative disaster management measures that reduce or avoid impacts of natural disasters in developing countries.
The following international studies demonstrate focus on the diverse social impacts of natural disasters.
Impact of a major disaster on the mental health of a well-studied cohort. This article is part of a growing body of research into the mental health consequences of major disasters. It describes a natural experiment in which 57% of a well-studied birth cohort was exposed to a major natural disaster (the Canterbury, New Zealand, earthquakes in 2010-2011). It found exposure to the Canterbury earthquakes was associated with a small to moderate increase in the risk for common mental health problems.
Post-disaster challenges and opportunities: Lessons from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and Great Eastern Japan earthquake and tsunami. The 2011 Christchurch earthquake and the Great Eastern Japan earthquake and tsunami is studied here to help practitioners and researchers understand the role of information sharing and decision-making in future large-scale post-disaster situations. This paper’s aim is to inform policy changes to be considered in the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
Canterbury earthquake recovery authority. The Recovery Strategy for greater Christchurch provides a vision, goals and a road map for ensuring the success for recovery and future leadership in earthquake resilience. The community is at the heart of the vision and the success of recovery.
Ongoing adverse mental health impact of the earthquake sequence in Christchurch, New Zealand. After the September 2010 and February 2011 earthquakes, Christchurch City experienced widespread damage, ongoing disruption and building demolitions resulting in difficulties for residents. This study explores the impact of the earthquakes on the mental and physical health of a random sample of 50-year-olds from the Christchurch area. It shows that 18 months after the first earthquake the significant adverse impact on mental health clearly continued. The ongoing provision of mental health services and consideration of mental health effects remains necessary and fundamental.
The economic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused massive levee failures in Louisiana and New Orleans. In less than a week, the city's population declined from over 400,000 to near zero. Census Bureau estimates indicate that almost two years after the storm, by July 1, 2007, nearly half of these evacuees had not returned.
Two years later: Hurricane Katrina still poses significant human resource problems for local governments. This study explores the impact of Hurricane Katrina on local government HR management for several cities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Interviews show the smaller cities and towns continue to struggle with hiring and retaining qualified employees. While some have fared better than others, retaining employees has proven difficult and daunting following the catastrophe.
- Five years later: Recovery from post traumatic stress and psychological distress among low-income mothers affected by Hurricane Katrina. This study documents mental health trajectories of low-income mothers affected by Hurricane Katrina. Nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina, psychological distress had not returned to pre-hurricane levels. Post-traumatic stress symptoms declined in the years following the hurricane, but still remain high. Hurricane-related trauma and home damage predict chronically high levels of post-traumatic stress.