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Investigaciones geográficas

versión On-line ISSN 2448-7279versión impresa ISSN 0188-4611


ALCANTARA-AYALA, Irasema. Disasters in Mexico: maps and notes around an unfinished story. Invest. Geog [online]. 2019, n.100, e60025.  Epub 27-Feb-2020. ISSN 2448-7279.

The relationship between inappropriate land use and the creation of disaster risk factors has been documented for several decades. In Mexico, it goes back to the Conquest process, during which the balance with the "generous land" was broken. From the desiccation of the lakes of the old Tenochtitlán, the deforestation processes and the socio-cultural and environmental transformation of the territory - all of them underlying causes and disaster risk drivers- initiated the systemic relations of power and exploitation that have disrupted the communion between society and nature, which gave rise to the social construction of disaster risk.

In Mexico, as in many countries of the Americas and of the world, the impact of disasters triggered by hazards of high magnitude and low frequency has involved large losses. From 1900 to 2018 there were 231 disasters in which more than 20,000 people lost their lives and approximately 18 million inhabitants were affected. Among them, the recent earthquake of September 19, 2017 shook the institutional structure of civil protection in Mexico and highlighted the urgent need to transform the current National System of Civil Protection (Sinaproc), merely reactive and of emergency character, into a National System of Integrated Disaster Risk Management (NSIDRM). The latter, as a cross cutting public policy, must be based on scientific evidence, with the contribution of social and natural sciences, as well as technological development. Likewise, the participation of different actors, among them, citizens, public and private sectors and the authorities of the different levels of government must constitute the axis of a transformation that allows to address the root or underlying disaster risk causes and the disaster risk drivers, in order to guarantee institutional efforts are not only directed to the response to emergencies or to promote fragmented reconstruction actions that do not contribute to reducing vulnerability.

This article presents a review of the impact that disasters triggered by natural and socionatural hazards in Mexico have had and offers a reflection on the need for the evolution of an emergency vision and response linked to Civil protection towards a cross cutting public policy approach on Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRM).

Palabras llave : Disaster risk; disasters; Mexico; policy making; Integrated Disaster Risk Management.

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