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How Development and Disaster InteractEssay

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¶ … disasters: Case Study- Rwanda

Most African nations have a definitive event that makes them known or recognized internationally and to Rwanda, the 1994 genocide booked it a place in the global arena. It was a practical example of what might happen to a country that is plagued by ethnics, religious and nationalist persuasions and then small arms are allowed to proliferate it. The cost of the war was not only on humanitarian aspect and the fatalities, but also on the compromise of the economy by the government itself while diverting funds to purchase weapons. The choice of weapons that were used in fueling the war ranged from Pistols, rifles, machine guns, grenades, light mortars, and light artillery (Goose S.D. & Smyth F., 2013). These incidences and the results often draw back third world countries in terms of the development track with wastage of resources that are deemed precious to such countries as indicated by Stewart F., (2014).

Problem statement/objectives

Apparently few people consider war and the aftermaths of war to be disasters, and if they do, they are not certain of where to categorise them. The aim of this paper will be to draw the attention to war as a form of disaster, to highlight some of the effects of war in the affected country hence showing it as a disaster and also clearly indicate the relationship that there is between development of a country and the disasters it experiences and how war as a disaster can potentially be curbed (Sena L. & Michael K., 2006:Pp9).

The relationship between disaster and economic and social development has been widely ignored over a long period of time. The departments that are concerned with planning and development have over the years ignored and never concerned themselves with disasters. Indeed in most third world countries, such measures as to cater for disasters before they happened have never been taken into consideration and if any disaster took place, it has been a norm for the state to trust the donor countries to help in the handling of the aftermaths of the disaster through the relief funds (Stephenson R.S., 1994).

Typically, development programs are not assessed in line with the context of disaster, nor are the effects of the disaster on the development program considered, nor is the potential of the development program to increase or reduce the disaster objectively looked into and the damaging effects of the disaster is often looked into. Instead, disasters are often put in the perspective of emergency response and not as a section of the long-term development programming. It has been the tradition that when disasters happened then the response was directed at the needs of the emergency at hand and cleaning up. The communities affected by the disaster were viewed as the least likely places to invest in. These perspectives however changed and would not apply to Rwanda as a country that was stricken by disaster in form of war, and it was apparent that disasters can be managed for resilient development as is the case in Rwanda (The World Bank Group, 2013).

The Rwanda disaster was occasioned by the conflict that was manifest between the two major ethnic groups in Rwanda; the Tutsi and the Hutu. This was after the shooting down of the plane that was carrying the then president Habyarimana on his return to Rwanda from Tanzania. His killing triggered a war that saw (100) days of killings where close to (1) million people were killed and massive property destruction was experienced (United Human Rights Council, 2014). This was an event that saw the economy of the country massively suffer due to the destruction of property and the mass exit of foreign investors and loss in investor confidence since many peace agencies like the Belgium peace troop exited from the country.

In the 1970s, Rwanda had a very prudent financial policy, favorable external trade as well as the external aid which made Rwandan economy realize sustained growth and low inflation rate. The economy of this country was majorly run by exportation of coffee and when in 1980s the coffee prices fell sharply, the economy also became erratic. The economy of the country experienced a slowed growth rate in the 1980s and 1990s with the average growth standing at 2.9% a year between 1980 and 1985, and thereafter stagnating till 1990, the IMF structural adjustments made things worse. But on top of this were the rampant civil wars that from the late 1980s and early 1990s that made growth impossible in Rwanda. In the five years of civil wars that culminated into the Rwanda Genocide which was a big disaster, the economy suffered extensively with the GDP declining in (3) out of these (5) years with the biggest being in 1994 which was the year of the genocide, the GDP dipping by more that 40%. Apparently, in 1995, the post war year, there was an increase in the GDP by 9%, which was a good indicator of the economic activity resurgence in the country (Chossudovsky M, 2003).

Once the genocide in Rwanda stopped, there was a Tutsi-led government that was installed and started an ambitious program to improve the economy of the country and also reduce the dependence on the subsistence faming, as was the norm there before. It is worth noting that the flailing economy was one of the major reasons behind the genocide as well as over population and competition for the scarce land that was remaining as well as the scarce resources. The government that came into place had a special attention to the building of the manufacturing industry as well as the service industry. The government also backed on the elimination of the hitherto barriers to external trade as well as development (Ryan Orla, 2004). In 1996, Rwanda experiences a 13% GDP growth rate. There was a rapid privatisation of the state enterprises; exportation of crops and heightened food production, there was rehabilitation of the tea and coffee plantations even to the smallholders. However, in as much as the recovery efforts were on high gear, the road to recovery was slow with the main crops like coffee dropping in production from the 35, 000 to 40,000 tons before the civil war and genocide, by 2000 had only recovered to 14,000 tons on average (Amanor S. 2013).

From the decline and rising up again from the ashes by the Rwandan people, one disaster theory that works well in this situation is the chaos theory of disaster. In brief, this theory indicates that Chaos prevents a stable strategy of problem solving. Chaos can be argues to be the result or consequence of dynamics of nonlinear systems. Nonlinearity points at the human behavior where the relationships between the variables in a system are disproportionate and dynamic in nature. In such systems that are nonlinear, a slight change or slight alteration of the variable can have immense effects. The theory also indicates that in such a system, behavior is full of surprises and is highly erratic, unpredictable and uncertain (Koehler G.A. 1995). These were the circumstances that surrounded the Rwanda genocide. There was a nonlinear system already in place with Hutu and the Tutsi pulling in different directions in the political arena. The five years of civil wars and unrest indicated the erratic nature of the situation that was in Rwanda and the economy and development of the nation responded in the same manner. The GDP growth was seen to climb and dip erratically and the production of the main cash crops like tea and coffee were similarly affected. The killing of the president in plane bombing was the all needed slight alteration of the variables that tipped the country into chaos, and with it went the development. Disaster struck the country and as long as things never regain equilibrium, the development never stabilised for that duration of the disaster (Serneels P. & Verpoorten M., 2012). This was a classic indicator of how war can be considered as a disaster that significantly affects the development of a nation.

Disaster-development relationship

There is need hence to have a clear understanding of the relationship between development and disaster such as the war that afflicted the nation or Rwanda.

Disasters destroy and limit development; this comes in form of loss of production capacity, destruction of physical assets, limitation of the access to markets, damage to infrastructure, destruction to healthcare facilities, erosion of livelihoods and savings, destruction of educational infrastructure, deaths as well as displacement of productive labor force. These were the consequences that Rwanda suffered during the disaster that struck (Serneels P. & Verpoorten M., 2012:Pp7).

Development causes disaster risks; unsustainable development that leads to unsafe working conditions as well as degrading the environment poses risk of disaster. The development trends within a country that shows outright inequality and giving room to social isolation as well exclusion of some section of the population are a risk towards disaster as was the case between the Hutu and the Tutsi… [END OF PREVIEW]

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