FIG Peer Review Journal


Reducing Vulnerability to Natural Disasters in the Asia Pacific through Enhanced Tenure Security (4127)

David Mitchell (Australia)
Dr. David Mitchell
Land Centre
RMIT University
School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences
GPO Box 2476V
Corresponding author Dr. David Mitchell (email: david.mitchell[at], tel.: + 61 3 9925 2420)

[ abstract ] [ paper ] [ handouts ]

Published on the web 2010-01-14
Received 2009-11-19 / Accepted 2010-01-14
This paper is one of selection of papers published for the FIG Congress 2010 in Sydney, Australia and has undergone the FIG Peer Review Process.

FIG Congress 2010
ISBN 978-87-90907-87-7 ISSN 2308-3441


There is evidence linking climate change with an increase in the frequency, severity, and unpredictability of natural disasters in the past decade. Between 1974 and 2003 there were 6,367 such destructive natural disasters, resulting in over 2 million deaths, with 75% of these in Asia alone (Guha-Sapir et al, 2004). During the last decade several major natural disasters have occurred including cyclones, typhoons, tsunamis and earthquakes that have caused extraordinary damage to life, land, livelihoods, and natural resources. Lessons form the 2004 Asian tsunami, recent earthquakes in India and Indonesia, Hurricanes in Central America, the Caribbean and New Orleans have highlighted the significant land issues that can arise in the aftermath of the natural disaster. This includes land grabbing and loss of connection with traditional sources of livelihood. Since the Asian tsunami there has been extensive analysis of the approaches taken to address these land issues after natural disasters, and the literature contains several comprehensive reports from international agencies recommending future approaches. Major events such as tsunamis are sudden, and catastrophic. However, the incidence of these events affecting a region or community is low. This paper concentrates on issues in developing countries in the Asia Pacific and draws on the lessons from recent major disasters and also existing literature on land issues and the more frequent natural hazards such as tidal surges, landslides, floods, cyclones, hurricanes and volcanic eruptions. Coastal communities are often at greatest risk of these events and it is often the poor sections of the community who occupy land at greatest risk. The paper also refers to the links between community vulnerability and tenure security. The author argues that improved tenure security and education of property rights will reduce the vulnerability of people at greatest risk of recurrent natural disasters.
Keywords: Coastal Zone Management; Land management; Access to land; Spatial planning; Risk management; Informal settlements; Valuation; climate change; natural disasters; tenure security; disaster resilience; vulnerability