Radix - Radical Interpretations of Disaster 

Welcome to RADIX:
Home for Radical Interpretations of Disasters
and Radical Solutions

Ben Wisner and Maureen Fordham

bluesquiggle.gif (968 bytes)The Radix discussion list has moved. we are now at: www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/RADIX.html where you can subscribe and email the list at: RADIX@JISCMAIL.AC.UK

Please note the address for RADIX:

Breaking news!

Eight principles of best practice in United States' urban risk management in the current political context. Disaster risk reduction scientists in the United States have prepared a brief paper on the challenges likely to be faced by emergency management, especially by FEMA and in so-called Sanctuary Cities, as a result of new and future policies of the new US administration. Download the eight principles here.


RADIX was inspired by the earthquakes in El Salvador (13 January 2001) and Gujarat, India (26 January 2001), and lingering doubts raised by the heavy losses in earthquakes in Armenia (1988), Kobe (1995), and Turkey (1999), just to mention a few.

The focus of RADIX is not just earthquake and not just El Salvador or India. It is meant as a home for discussion, working papers, opinion pieces, resources, links that can help to develop radical interpretations of and radical solutions (
see resources for low cost rural rebuilding) for ALL disasters in ALL parts of planet earth.

By radical we mean fundamental or concerning root causes (hence the Latin, radix). This web home is non-sectarian. We welcome any material that proposes to deal with fundamental issues such as human rights, respect for diversity, translation of available knowledge into action, the links among disasters, economic development, and politics.

We are non-sectarian, but by no means apolitical. One of the fundamental aims of this web site is to put together into the same (cyber)space, groups that have not shared enough with each other in the past: scientists, human rights activists, development workers, government officials, business executives, environmentalists, media, popular culture workers.

One aim of RADIX is to help build a constituency for finishing the unfinished business of the International Decade for National Disaster Reduction, 1990-99. The IDNDR created a vast network of scientists, but most of the knowledge pooled in this way has not been applied. The unfinished business is to work toward an international treaty that recognizes safety from preventable disaster to be a human right, and thus a responsibility of governments. We cannot in this new millennium allow governments off the hook when they turn a blind eye to violations of their own building codes and land use restrictions. We cannot allow them to blame disaster on an "act of god". Please go to the op-ed on human rights if you are interested in these ideas. Please contribute your own idea, and help us link with human rights activists.

What we need is something like the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that would coordinate the contributions of thousands of scientists and technicians in an effort to identify and eventually to write into treaty, or its technical annexes, currently available knowledge about prevention and mitigation. The IPCC has effectively done this, linking the work of many scientists around the work to refinements in the treaty making process associated with global warming.

At this writing, the day of the Gujarat earthquake, 2000 deaths have been reported. That number could rise by an order of magnitude. There are reports of modern high rise apartment buildings collapsing in Ahmedabad. This is eerily reminiscent of the middle class residences destroyed in Turkey in 1999 because contractors flaunted building code requirements. Is this also the case in Ahmedabad?

Finally, we want to emphasize that this is a site for all regions and all fundamental issues. What about drought, Sudan dioch bird infestations, Ebola virus in Africa? How are populations made more vulnerable to these hazards by war, by government policies, by misguided development projects? What about the spiking incidence of domestic violence after hurricane Andrew in Florida and the Red River floods, both in the USA? What about the fact that 40% of all deaths from tornados in USA occur in mobile homes - inhabited by low income people? What about the special sensitivity training courses being run for the Los Angeles Country Fire and Police Departments on the special needs of the trans-sexual population when forced to evacuate and live in public shelters?

As these random examples should convince you, dear reader, RADIX is a home for all of you concerned to understand disasters from the "roots" up, and those concerned to prevent disasters from the "bottom up" as well as the "top down"

bluesquiggle.gif (968 bytes) See:
bluesquiggle.gif (968 bytes)  "RADIX, Year Two: Reflections on 2002"
bluesquiggle.gif (968 bytes)  "RADIX, Year One: Reflections on 2001"

bluesquiggle.gif (968 bytes) See Disaster Diplomacy at www.disasterdiplomacy.org

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Radix: the source or origin; the root
Quick look up at Dictionary.com

For questions regarding this website, contact: maureen.fordham@northumbria.ac.uk