Disaster risk perception in urban contexts and for people with disabilities: case study on the city of Iquique (Chile)

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About 15% of the world’s population suffers from some kind of disability. In addition to experiencing high rates of poverty, exclusion and lack of access to education, employment, health care, legal support and other services, individuals with disabilities are disproportionately affected by disasters, recording a mortality rate two to four times higher than that of people without disabilities. These facts are not reflected in information surveys used in planning for disaster risk management in urban contexts. This study proposes an approach to characterize the population with disabilities within a risk perception framework using the city of Iquique, in northern Chile, as a case study. This research encompasses the following stages: first, a review of the social risk perception approach; second, a determination of exposure to natural hazards; third, the sample selection, survey design and implementation; fourth, the generation of four indices: (1) the overall or generic risk perception index; (2) the specific index for each of the identified hazards; (3) the anticipated behavior index; and (4) the local risk management index; and finally, the statistical analysis of the indices and the selected independent variables, emphasizing the disability factor. The study allowed us to estimate Iquique’s population with disabilities, the types of disabilities present and the characteristics of families with disabled members. Risk perception and disabled people represent new issues with high social value and deserve more attention from research, planning and response agencies.


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