Day_165: Capacity, Coping Capacity, and Capacity Assessment

Based on the UNDRR, the capacity, coping capacity, and capacity assessment are defined as follows:

Capacity is “the combination of all the strengths, attributes and resources available within an organization, community or society to manage and reduce disaster risks and strengthen resilience.” and also annotated “capacity may include infrastructure, institutions, human knowledge and skills, and collective attributes such as social relationships, leadership and management”

Coping capacity is “the ability of people, organizations and systems, using available skills and resources, to manage adverse conditions, risk or disasters. The capacity to cope requires continuing awareness, resources and good management, both in normal times as well as during disasters or adverse conditions. Coping capacities contribute to the reduction of disaster risks.”

Capacity assessment is “the process by which the capacity of a group, organization or society is reviewed against desired goals, where existing capacities are identified for maintenance or strengthening and capacity gaps are identified for further action.”

We consider the capacity as a part of the vulnerability mentioned in the Press and Release (PAR) model. The capacity is examined as a coping capacity in the context of the disaster.

This means capacity is more changing, human-centered, government-related, and timely measurement aspects compared to the other vulnerability factors.

As mentioned above, the capacity is considered one of the vulnerability factors and the vulnerability index can be analyzed based on the statistical data. However, the applicable capacity statistical data is difficult to determine and also difficult to obtain in Thailand. In addition, capacity cannot be measured well by the statistical data. They could be much influenced by social networks, past experience, and other factors. With this situation, the capacity assessment can be utilized not only itself but also to apply to measure a social vulnerability as well as visualize the risk by overlapping with hazard risk on the GIS. Also, the capacity can be considered to be the key to examine resilience.

Day_163: PAR model : Hazard and Vulnerability (3)

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Day_89 : Disaster Recovery Theory (1)

First, the theoretical examination’s concept is explained and two disaster recovery theories are introduced. Second, the first theory is explained and studied. Third, the second theory is explained and examined*.

The concept is explained as follows:

The concept

Figure1  Disaster Recovery Concept

The followings are the two disaster recovery theories used for this study.
1) Theoretical framework 1
Disasters contribute to change, they do so primarily by accelerating trends that are already underway prior to impact <Bates et al.(1963); Bates(1982); Bates and Peacock (1993)><Haas et al.(1977)>

2) Theoretical framework 2
Disaster Recovery Process is influenced by
① Devoted aid volume from outside society
② Disaster scale
③ Community strength(Social System Strength) <Hirose(1982)>

The first theory is confirmed by some cases. You can see the following figures such as Kanto earthquake, Fukui earthquake, Typhoon Isewan in Japan, and Hurricane Katrina in US.
 Disaster Recoveries in Japan

Figure3 The Disaster Recovery from Hurricane Katrina in US.

To be continued…………………..

*This is  the presentation summary. The presentation was made in 2011 after the tsunami in Japan.

Related Info. and Books

Day_34 (rev): The meanings of the Typhoon Makurazaki in 1945

After the second world war, Japan was vulnerable, so we had a lot of natural disasters, especially Typhoon disasters from 1945 to 1959. Some call this 15 years a great flood and storm era(see the below figure). The first hit was Typhoon Makurazaki in Sep. 1945*.The typhoon disrupted Hiroshima city. There were 1229 casualties in the city. This fact reminds us of what happened in Hiroshima in the same year. The atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima city on August, one month before the typhoon. During the war, we had no weather forecast system because of the military’s reasons. The people in Hiroshima were living in vulnerable houses because they were hardly hit by the bomb. They did not have enough info. about the Typhoon’s coming also**. Therefore, this typhoon disaster is a complex disaster which consists of natural disasters and human-made disasters aspects***.


Figure: The Number of Deaths and Missing Persons Caused by Natural Disasters

*Hiroshima Pref. Website:

**A Blank in the Weather Map by Kunio Yanagida:

Kunio Yanagita was a Japanese scholar who is often known as the father of Japanese native folkloristics or minzokugaku.

***Day_23: The Definitions

Day_23 : The Definitions

Day_84 : Northridge and Kobe

The below is just a comparison between 1994 Northridge and 1995 Kobe earthquakes.

Northridge :January 17, at 4:30:55 a.m. PST, in 1994 (Mw6.7)
Kobe: January 17, at 05:46:53 JST in 1995(Mw6.9)

Death toll
Northridge: 57
Kobe: 6,434

Northridge: Property damage was estimated to be between $13 and $40 billion
Kobe: Around ten trillion yen – $100 billion – in damage, 2.5% of Japan’s GDP at the time.

Both earthquakes are in the costliest disasters (Overall losses) in the world (1980-2004) as you can see the below figure(Munich Re).


However, we need to notice the death toll’s huge gap between the two even if they happened almost at the same time on the same day with almost the same magnitudes. This tells us natural disaster is not “natural”. The earthquake itself does not kill people, it is just a natural phenomenon. We create “natural” disasters.

Day_83 : Tsunami – the words

80% of occurring tsunami in the world is concentrated in the Circum-Pacific Belt.The leading countries researching the tsunami are Japan, U.S, and Russia. The tsunami is originally a Japanese word term that means a high tidal wave*. The name was used by Japanese immigrants during a tidal wave caused by the 1946 Aleutian Islands earthquake** (tsunami) hit in Hiro***, Hawaii and it became an international word, especially an academic word, ”Tsunami”. The origin of an international conference about Tsunami has a tsunami session led by the IUGG (The International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics) as an additional event. The”Tsunami” became public after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster.

*The word tsunami (pronounced is composed of the Japanese words “Tsu” (which means harbor) and “Nami” (which means “wave”)(ITIC)

**The 1946 Aleutian Islands earthquake
Hiro, 1964

***Pacific Tsunami Museum in Hiro

Day_72 : 1983 Sea of Japan earthquake

The 1983 Sea of Japan earthquake or 1983 Nihonkai-Chubu earthquake occurred on May 26.The magnitude of the earthquake was 7.8.It occurred in the Sea of Japan. The mortality number was 104 and 100 were caused by the tsunami. The tsunami hit communities along the coast, especially, Aomori and Akita Prefectures and the east coast of Noto Peninsula.
There are three things to share about the tsunami disaster.
The first is the tsunami generated location, the second is the broadcasting, and the third is the victims of school children. The first, there was an ancient tradition which tsunami never hit the coast of the sea of Japan. This normalcy bias* exacerbates the damage. The second, this was the first tsunami disaster  broadcasted all over the world during the time. The people who had homevideo also contributed to the media. The tsunami warning system, wireless tsunami information from the sea of Japan to the local area, to inform local people was improved after the event. The third, 43 school children were hit and 13 were passed away. They were on an excursion. The school teacher could not do anything during the time. The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster also had some teachers related issues. The both tsunamis were daytime tsunamis.

*Normalcy bias

Day_57 : Normalcy Bias

Day_67 : Disaster Terminology

The disaster terminology is very important to have a common picture to discuss among the related people. The UNISDR provides a very useful website to confirm the term. For example, the adaptation is defined as “The adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities”. The following is the website.

Day_66 : Disaster Books At Riks, Measuring Vulnerability, and Disaster Theory (2)

The following books are very useful to understand disasters.
1. At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s Vulnerability, and Disasters
2. Measuring Vulnerability to Natural Hazards: Towards Disaster Resilient Societies
3. Disaster Theory

1. “At risk” was already mentioned.

At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s Vulnerability and Disasters

2. Birkman’s Measuring Vulnerability to Natural Hazards. This book is really really useful to understand the vulnerability of disaster research perspectives. The first, we can recognize what the vulnerability is. The second, this clarifies the vulnerability based on the people living in the areas. So the book divided the chapters or sections by the national, local, and community level. A brief explanation is found in the UN websites. An attached url also can be referred. This helps us to understand the Index, indices, and Indicators related work, which is internationally renown.

Measuring Vulnerability to Natural Hazards: Towards Disaster Resilient Societies

However, I also notice the vulnerability is one of the western thinking words facilitated by UN or developed countries. These kinds of “popular words” sometimes stop us to think the true meanings and the question of why this becomes popular. To avoid this, we can read these kinds of books from various perspectives.

3.Disaster Theory is very important to grasp the whole picture of what is the disasters and related terminologies. This book taught me a lot.

Disaster Theory: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Concepts and Causes (English Edition)

Day_57 : Normalcy Bias

We tend not to admit unusual situation. This is the crucial point for disaster risk reduction. In Japan, there are so many true stories about the bias as follows:

So many victims told me “I thought I was ok, that thing (Fooding) would never happen to me, ” even if their neighbors were already affected.                                         – Researchers Note-

The very insightful information was found from the following site:

The followings are from the above Gerold Blog:
C) When Mount St. Helens volcano began rumbling in Washington State in 1980, Park Rangers issued warnings for resident to leave and blocked access to keep people out. Some residents ignored evacuation warnings and other campers and sightseers walked or drove around the barricades to get into the park. They’d always camped there and since there had never been a disaster before; their normalcy bias prevented them from understanding the possibility of one happening. Then the volcano violently erupted and 57 people were killed.

D) Before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, inadequate preparation by both governments and citizens as well as constant denials that the levees could fail are an example of normalcy bias as were the thousands of people who refused to evacuate. After the hurricane, many of the Louisiana Super dome refugees were unable to cope with the disaster. Many people couldn’t understand that a hurricane could devastate their city and, unable to help themselves, they waited in vain for government help that never came as murders and rapes escalated, sewers backed up, and food and water ran out. Normalcy bias left them unable to deal with the disaster.”