Natural Hazards

, Volume 86, Issue 1, pp 411–436 | Cite as

Disaster risk perception in urban contexts and for people with disabilities: case study on the city of Iquique (Chile)

  • Carmen-Paz CastroEmail author
  • Juan-Pablo Sarmiento
  • Rosita Edwards
  • Gabriela Hoberman
  • Katherine Wyndham
Original Paper


About 15% of the world’s population suffers from some kind of disability. In addition to experiencing high rates of poverty, exclusion and lack of access to education, employment, health care, legal support and other services, individuals with disabilities are disproportionately affected by disasters, recording a mortality rate two to four times higher than that of people without disabilities. These facts are not reflected in information surveys used in planning for disaster risk management in urban contexts. This study proposes an approach to characterize the population with disabilities within a risk perception framework using the city of Iquique, in northern Chile, as a case study. This research encompasses the following stages: first, a review of the social risk perception approach; second, a determination of exposure to natural hazards; third, the sample selection, survey design and implementation; fourth, the generation of four indices: (1) the overall or generic risk perception index; (2) the specific index for each of the identified hazards; (3) the anticipated behavior index; and (4) the local risk management index; and finally, the statistical analysis of the indices and the selected independent variables, emphasizing the disability factor. The study allowed us to estimate Iquique’s population with disabilities, the types of disabilities present and the characteristics of families with disabled members. Risk perception and disabled people represent new issues with high social value and deserve more attention from research, planning and response agencies.


Risk perception Disaster Urban Disability Earthquake Tsunami 



The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Leonardo Muñoz Gómez, Instructor, Department of Geography, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Chile, for his contribution in the statistical analysis and interpretation of results. The authors also thank Teresa Cole for her assistance in preparing the final version of the manuscript. This material is based on work supported by the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FONDECYT) Prize # 1130259, and the Inter and Transdisciplinary Initiatives Support Program, FIT VID 2015, University of Chile. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, express or implied, of the Government of Chile.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

This manuscript is an original work, which has not been previously published, whole or in part, and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. The authors declare that they do not have actual or potential competing financial interest regarding the submitted manuscript. The authors agree that the work is ready for submission to the journal and accept responsibility for the manuscript’s contents.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de GeografíaUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Extreme Events InstituteFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Extreme Events InstituteFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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