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Response to Dynamic Flood Hazard Factors in Peninsular Malaysia

Ngai Weng Chan and Dennis J. Parker
The Geographical Journal
Vol. 162, No. 3 (Nov., 1996), pp. 313-325
Published by: geographicalj
DOI: 10.2307/3059653
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3059653
Page Count: 13
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Response to Dynamic Flood Hazard Factors in Peninsular Malaysia
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Abstract

Rapidly-industrializing, developing countries face increasing environmental disaster potential. Rising disaster losses are an indicator of non-sustainable development. Analysis of flood hazard in peninsular Malaysia exemplifies these problems. Malaysia has a rapidly-growing economy and evidence suggests that the flood hazard is worsening largely because of rapid urbanization and development. This is revealed by analysing trends in five 'flood hazard factors': variables which explain flood disaster potential. Flood risk, exposure and damage potential are all increasing. High levels of poverty in flood plains suggest that peoples' vulnerability to floods is not being reduced. A large proportion of interviewed flood-prone households have low incomes, especially in eastern peninsula locations, and reported flood damages are high. Indigenous household flood adjustments, including 'stilt houses', limit flood vulnerability especially in the rural east. Unfortunately, modernization threatens traditional life-styles and erodes indigenous hazard-adaptations. State response is heavily engineering-oriented and is failing to address development-induced flood hazard potential. Policies are required which marry hazard reduction to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

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