Urban disaster management: a case study of earthquake risk assessment in Cartago, Costa Rica

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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Natural hazards pose a threat to population, its goods and the environment. Urban areas are particularly vulnerable not only because of the concentration of population but due to the interplay that exists between people, buildings, and technological systems. Disasters have the potential to destroy decades of investment and effort, and cause the deviation of resources intended for primary tasks such as education, health and infrastructure. Disaster management is therefore an important component of urban planning and management as disasters pose a serious threat to sustainable development. There are basically three very important weaknesses in the way disaster management is currently being carried out. The first relates to the reliance upon hazard zonations alone rather than using risk as input for the selection and prioritisation of mitigation strategies. This is unfortunately in part due to the lack of empirical-historical data on damage and due to the high costs of generating and updating building inventories. The second relates to the reliance upon response rather than a concerted effort in both the pre-disaster and the postdisaster phases. The last relates to the lack of disaster information networks which coordinate efforts amongst the many institutions involved. The case of the Costa Rican city of Cartago was chosen as an example of the challenges that lie ahead in terms of geo-information for urban disaster management. The city provides an interesting case study; it represents a typical example of a medium-sized Costa Rican city that is located in a highly hazard-prone area. Cartago is also representative of a financially constrained local government authority with very basic baseline information where plans are elaborated without proper disaster-related information inputs. The research addresses building and population risk by integrating a hazard intensity map, damage curves derived from historical damage records and a building inventory.
Original languageUndefined
  • Masser, F.I., Supervisor, External person
  • Rengers, N., Supervisor
  • Ottens, H.F.L., Supervisor
Award date2 Dec 2002
Place of PublicationEnschede, the Netherlands
Print ISBNs9789061642084
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2002


  • IR-79941
  • Disaster Management
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • EWI-21650

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