SHORTCOMINGS OF CONVENTIONAL APPROACHES IN MEETING NEW DRR OBJECTIVES

M. Balamir, city and regional planning, MIDDLE EAST TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY, Ankara, Turkey

Abstract

Conventional social organizations and modes of conduct that focus in post-disaster activities and target singular objectives often prove outdated, as risks are often spread and embedded in networks of socio-physical systems. New responsibilities and tasks need be introduced and revisions made in the existing organizations and systems as circumstances change and finer DRR policies are adopted. As often is the case, the post-disaster social climate gives rise to revisions in the legal and organizational apparatus, not always however in the necessary direction. There are numerous constraints, belief systems, and interest groups that obstruct appropriate steps of development in DRR even if a large-scale devastation has been experienced.

The 1999 earthquakes in Turkey gave rise to a number of new institutions as “building supervision”, “obligatory earthquake insurance system”, “building retrofitting regulation”, and “revisions in the flat-ownership law” concerning management of the building stock. These regulatory devices are all related to the structural risks of individual buildings. This confined attitude is the consequence of the prevailing conviction of authorities largely fuelled by activities of dominant professional lobbies, ousting the likelihood of other approaches. These regulations largely overlook the reality of risks beyond buildings and ignore the potential contributions of other professional approaches that tend to explore risks embedded in the social systems.

To challenge this entrenched point of view, it has been possible to investigate empirically the risks generated by the social conduct of land-use decisions, which are almost always determined by local interests and political pressures. The city of Adapazari, devastated in the 1999 earthquakes in Turkey prepared and ratified a master plan in 1985. The plan lost its compatibility, as it was modified by 750+ partial revisions in due course until 1999. These are often in the form of depletion of open spaces, developments in pockets of green areas, increases in densities, changes in the building massforms from detached order to attached buildings, commercial uses in residential areas modifying the environmental conditions. Analyses of these revisions indicate not only their subjective or untenable background arguments and their private interest base, but also provide ample evidence of a direct correlation with losses in 1999.

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