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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor 1

John S. Gierke

Advisor 2

Kari B. Henquinet

Committee Member 1

Luke J. Bowman

Committee Member 2

Carol A. MacLennan


El Salvador is exposed to a myriad of natural hazards and has experienced many different types of natural disasters throughout the history of the small country. Disasters, along with a global movement to decrease disaster risk, have compelled the government of El Salvador and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to instigate disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts throughout the country, which generally seek to decrease disaster risk through decentralization and local capacity building. Community Civil Protection Commissions (CCPCs) are the local-level volunteer committees responsible for reporting to the municipal government in the decentralized, hierarchical emergency management system. The Pressure and Release (PAR) model has been used in many studies to examine the progression of vulnerability and to show how a combination of hazards and vulnerability produces disaster risk. A recent UN global report demonstrated that different types of natural disaster risk, intensive and extensive risk, are often associated with rural versus urban environments. The type of risk is a reflection of the nature of the environment and can contribute to or detract from political incentives which are vital to the success of DRR efforts. As a rural farm town, El Centro is exposed to extensive disaster risk. In this study, I draw on the PAR model as it applies to an agricultural community in El Salvador to better understand extensive disaster risk. National and regional historical events and policies have led to a political and economic situation in which the community is at risk for natural disasters, such as storms, wind, drought, localized flooding, landslides, pests and disease. These natural hazards have become interwoven to a nearly inseparable point with the environmental health of the community. The thesis will build on the PAR and Access models presented by Wisner to make a case for distinguishing intensive and extensive risk. By considering the interaction between vulnerability, hazards and coping mechanisms to natural hazards, we can consider the type of disaster risk that affects El Centro. Only by understanding how disaster risk manifests in an extensive risk environment can the government and NGOs garner the political support necessary to instigate successful DRR programs in communities like El Centro, which rely on agriculture to meet daily needs. This is important for effectively distributing resources and increasing participation for sustainable DRR initiatives.