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Reviewed by:
  • Atlas: Amenazas, vulnerabilidades y riesgos de Bolivia
  • Kristen Conway-Gómez
Atlas: Amenazas, vulnerabilidades y riesgos de Bolivia. Roger Quiroga B., Luis Alberto Salamanca, Jorge C. Espinoza Morales, Gualberto Torrico C. Bolivia: OXFAM and FUNDEP-CO, 2008. xvi and 180 pp., maps, graphics, tables, notes, appendices, and index. Free upon request, cloth (ISBN 978-99954-1-175-6).

This work is an extensive collection of maps, tables and graphs of socioeconomic characteristics, natural hazards and threats to Bolivia's population. The authors' stated primary objective, which in part stems from legislation, is to strengthen institutional preparatory capacities and the response of national, regional, local and civil society actors in risk management through a systematic processing and analysis of geospatial and geostatistical data. Specifically, the authors are interested in increasing proactive risk management by examining six natural and socio-natural threats –earthquakes, mass movements, floods, droughts, freezes, and forest fires– and the potential effects of these to human populations when considered alongside socioeconomic conditions.

To create the maps, which are grouped by threats, vulnerabilities, and risk, the authors used the official base map of Bolivia created by the Instituto Geográfico Militar (IGM) and municipal maps based on those created by the Comisión Nacional de Límites in December 2006. Cartographic standards established by the IGM for the representation of Bolivia are adhered to for the 90 maps produced for the atlas. The scales of the base maps used for the atlas range from 1:1,000,000 to 1:250,000 to create a set of small-scale country level maps of threats, vulnerabilities and risks.

The first section of the atlas contains a detailed description of the legislation, theory and methods used in the creation of the maps. Section two contains the maps of threats, which begins with several descriptive maps of Bolivia – departments, municipalities, a composite satellite image, altitude and elevation before continuing with maps of different types of threats (including floods, mass movements, droughts, fires, seismic activity, initially) then various biophysical maps (including hydrology, eco-regions, Köppen climate classification, watersheds and evapotranspiration rates).

The third, and largest, section contains the maps of vulnerabilities, which are divided into three types: global, socioeconomic and physical (including combinations of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics such as population growth rates, migration rates, education factors, health-related characteristics, economic information, state of living conditions, services, transportation networks and resources within Bolivian territory and associated land uses). This section is where the authors have pulled together the relevant combination of factors deemed necessary to assess risks faced in Bolivia.

The fourth section contains the maps of risk for the natural hazards considered and the combination table of indices by municipality. he atlas provides a description of Bolivia and the physical and socioeconomic conditions in the country in both written and visual form. It is through the visual presentation that one can obtain a good sense of the distinct natures of Bolivia east and western regions. This is an extensive collection that provides a rich description of place from both physical and socioeconomic perspectives. [End Page 185]

In terms of strengthening institutional capacities for dealing with risk management, the atlas offers a rich description at the national level of locations affected by different types of natural hazards in Bolivia. For planners this is a particularly valuable compendium of potential hazards. Geographers in particular, as well as those who work with people and the land, should find the many maps useful in thinking about landuse and potential risks. This is a valuable resource because of the obvious interelationships between natural hazards and social and economic conditions, and mapping is a useful way of considering such multidimensional phenomena. Seeing the combined natural and socioeconomic vulnerabilities mapped out alongside related statistical data provides viewers an opportunity to assess potential outcomes based on a number of conditions that will impact the severity of a disaster, for example the state of basic services in housing in relation to risk of seismic activity. The final table in the atlas, in which each municipality is given a risk rate provides a clear sense of comparative vulnerability and should be valuable in guiding government and non-government entities tasked...


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