Volcanic Hazard or Economic Destitution: Hard Choices in Baños, Ecuador

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Volcano hazard, Evacuation, Economy and tourism, Community recovery, Ecuador, Tungurahua volcano

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In 1999, the entire population of tourism-dependent Baños, Ecuador, some 16,000 people, was evacuated in anticipation of a violent eruption of Mount Tungurahua. Subsequently, many areas in the risk zone experienced heavy ash falls, lahars, and landslides, although no cataclysmic events occurred. Many small rural communities were also evacuated. While these communities became impacted by the hazard, Baños avoided most direct effects. Conditions for all evacuees were grim, and their conditions compounded because Ecuador was simultaneously undergoing profound economic and political crises. Absent livelihood alternatives, community leaders from Baños organized a return to their town even though it remained under an evacuation order. An aggressive campaign brought tourists and more residents back and Baños revived economically; however, this was achieved at the cost of hazard awareness among both groups, tourists and residents, and public safety became compromised.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Global Environmental Change Part B: Environmental Hazards, v. 5, issue 1, p. 23-34