Literature on natural risks typically examines either biophysical process characteristics or human pre‐ or post‐disaster activities. This paper takes a somewhat different track; first, it argues that also natural disasters are socially constructed and, therefore, second, it resets the framework in which disaster management has to be placed. While most researchers usually focus on risk assessment it is suggested that the concept of vulnerability can provide a vehicle to explore a contextual approach to the reduction of losses due to natural hazards. In a brief overview the conceptualization of vulnerability is presented. Since precise measurement of uncertainties and exact prediction of damages is hardly feasible, a conceptual approach in vulnerability assessment is proposed. Qualities that determine potential damage are identified and characteristics described. It is suggested that, even without assessing risk exactly, vulnerability reduction decreases damages and losses.
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