An Introduction to Disaster Management Concept and Meaning
A disaster is a consequence of a sudden disastrous event which
seriously disrupts the normal function of the society or the community to the
extent that it cannot subsist without outside help.
A disaster is not just the occurrence of an event such as an
earthquake, flood, conflict, health epidemic or an industrial accident; a
disaster occurs if that event/process negatively impacts human populations.
Disasters combine two elements: hazard, and the
vulnerability of affected people. "A disaster occurs when a hazard exposes
the vulnerability of individuals and communities in such a way that their lives
are directly threatened or sufficient harm has been done to their community's
economic and social structure to undermine their ability to survive.
A disaster can be defined as any tragic event stemming from events
such as earthquakes, floods, catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions. It is a phenomenon that disasters can cause
damage to life, property and destroy the economic, social and cultural life of
Disaster is the exposure of a group of people to a hazard, leading
to a serious disruption of the functioning of a society and
causing human, material, economic environmental
losses which exceed the ability of the
affected community or society to cope. A disaster results from a combination of
hazards and vulnerability that exceeds the capacity of
a society to reduce the potential negative consequences of risk.
Hazard is an extreme event, natural or man-made , with a
destructive potential to social, economic and human assets. These may include
future threats, and may be “natural”
(geological,hydrometeorological and biological)or“man-made”(Conflict, environmental degradation and technological hazards).
Disasters are often described as a result of the combination of:
the exposure to a hazard; the conditions of vulnerability that are present; and
insufficient capacity or measures to reduce or cope with the potential negative
consequences. Disaster impacts may include loss of life, injury, disease and
other negative effects on human physical, mental and social well-being,
together with damage to property, destruction of assets, loss of services,
social and economic disruption and environmental degradation.
A disaster is a calamitous, distressing, or ruinous effect
of a disastrous event which seriously affects or disrupts (or threaten to
disrupt) the critical functions of a community, society or system, for a period
long enough to significantly harm it or cause its failure. It is beyond the
capapabilty of the local community to overcome it. The stricken
community needs extraordinary efforts to cope with it, often with outside help
or international aid.
It is a situation resulting from an environmental phenomenon or
armed conflict that produce stress, personal injury, physical damage, and
economic disruption of great magnitude.
Definition The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Disaster as "any
occurrence that causes damage, ecological disruption, loss of human life,
deterioration of health and health services, on a scale sufficient to warrant
an extraordinary response from outside the affected community or area."
Types of disasters Disasters are broadly divided into two types:
2) Man made disasters.
Natural disasters occur as the result of action of the
natural forces and tend to be accepted as unfortunate, but
inevitable. They include:
Ø Floods / Sea Surges / Tsunamis
Ø Snow storms,
Famines may be defined as a persistent failure in food supplies
over a prolonged period. It is a phenomenon in which a large percentage of the
populations of a region or country are so undernourished and that death by
starvation becomes increasingly common. A famine weakens body resistance and
leads to increases in infectious diseases, especially cholera, dysentery,
malaria, and smallpox. Famine is associated with naturally-occurring crop
failure due to draught and pestilence and artificially with war and genocide.
Drought is lack or insufficiency of rain for an extended
period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply.
Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average
precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and
agriculture of the affected region.
A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land, producing
measurable property damage or forcing evacuation of people and vital resources.
Floods are caused due to heavy rainfall and the inadequate capacity of rivers
to carry the high flood discharge. Floods develop slowly as rivers swell during
an extended period of rain. A flood occurs when water overflows or inundates
land that is normally dry. Mostly it happens when rivers or streams overflow
Cyclones are strong winds that are formed over the oceans. The
term "cyclone" refers to all classes of storms with low atmospheric
pressure at the centre, are formed when an organized system of revolving winds,
clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere, anti-clockwise in the Northern
Hemisphere, develops over tropical waters.
A hurricane is a huge storm. It is a powerful, spiraling storm
that begins over a warm sea, near the equator and accompanied by fierce winds,
flash floods, mudslides and huge waves.It is a low pressure, large scale
weather system which derives its energy from the latent heat of condensation of
water vapor over warm tropical seas.
An earthquake is a sudden motion or trembling of the
ground crust caused by the collision of tectonic
plates resulting in the abrupt displacement of rock masses. Earthquakes
result from the movement of one rock mass past another in response to tectonic
forces underneath the earth’s surface.
Volcanoes result when magma rises, pushes through a weakness in
the Earth’s crust, and spills out onto the surface, devastating anything in its
path. The superheated rock is not the only danger, however. Far below the
earth’s surface, volcanic gasses are dissolved in the magma. As the magma rises,
it begins to cool down, and gas bubbles begin to form. This makes the magma
less dense than the surroundings, causing it to rise faster.
A third threat is a pyroclastic flow. This high speed
ejection of hot gasses and debris can travel in excess of 80 kilometers per
hour and usually averages between 200 and 700 degrees Celsius. Not only does
the pyroclastic flow travel too fast to be outran, but it will incinerate
everything in its path. pyroclastic
Man made disasters
Ø release of toxic chemicals or
radioactive materials(industrial accidents),
Ø dam failures
Ø nuclear reactor accidents
The potential disaster losses, in lives, health status,
livelihoods, assets and services, which could occur to a particular community
or a society over some specified future time period. Traditional disaster
Most of the old disaster threats still exist like earthquakes,
cyclones, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, wildfires, floods, landslides, and
drought so do the man-made ones like fire, explosions and other major accidents
which cause heavy human casualties, economic and social losses. These same traditional
threats have increased as increase in population has force people to settle in
disaster prone areas which increase the impact of disasters.
Modern disaster threats:
These consist of manmade events like hijacking, terrorism, civil
unrest, terrorism and conflict with conventional arms as well as chemical,
biological, nuclear, or radiological weapons. Increased social violence has
drastically affected many nations and communities.
A dangerous phenomenon, substance, human activity or condition that
may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss
of livelihoods and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental
Hazards are conditions that have the potential to harm to a
community or environment
Geological process or phenomenon that may cause loss of life,
injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and
services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage.
These disasters include landmass related disasters like
earthquakes, mudslides, volcanoes etc,
Water and climatic Hazards (Hydro meteorological hazards)
These include storms, cyclones, floods etc
By their nature, the manufacture, storage, and transport of
chemicals are accidents waiting to happen. Chemicals can be corrosive, toxic,
and they may react, often explosively. The impacts of chemical accidents can be
deadly, for both human beings and the environment.
Industrial/ Technological hazards
A hazard originating from technological or industrial conditions,
including accidents, dangerous procedures, infrastructure failures or specific
human activities, that may cause loss of life, injury, illness or other health
impacts, property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, social and economic
disruption, or environmental damage.
These include industrial pollution, nuclear radiation, toxic
wastes, dam failures, transport accidents, factory explosions, fires, and
Biological hazards, also known as biohazards, refer to biological substances that pose a threat to the
health of living organisms, primarily that of humans. This can include medical
waste or samples of a microorganism, virus or toxin (from a biological source) that can
affect human health. It can also include substances harmful to animals.
Examples: anthrax, smallpox, plague, tularemia, brucellosis and botulinism
toxin, bird flu.
Definition and concept.
Disaster management includes sum total of all activities,
programmes and measureswhich can be taken up before, during and after a
disaster with the purpose of avoiding, reducing the impact or recovering from
According to Kelly (1996),"Disaster management" can be
defined as the range of activities designed to maintain control over disaster
and emergency situations and to provide a framework for helping those who are
at risk to avoid or recover from the impact of the disaster.
Disaster management means managing resources and various
responsibilities to deal with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies. This may
include preparedness before disaster, response and recovery i.e. rebuilding and
supporting society. The purpose of this is to lessen the impact of disasters.
‘Disaster management can be defined as the organization and
management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian
aspects of emergencies, in particular preparedness, response and recovery in
order to lessen the impact of disasters.
The various aspects of disaster management:
Ø Disaster Prevention
Ø Disaster preparedness
Ø Disaster response
Ø Disaster mitigation
The aims of disaster management are to:
Reduce (avoid, if possible) the potential losses from hazards;
Assure prompt and appropriate assistance to victims when
Achieve rapid and durable recovery.
Importance and relevance of disaster management in the present
Over the past 20 years disasters have affected 4.4 billion people,
caused $2 trillion of damage and killed 1.3 million people. These losses have
outstripped the total value of official development assistance in the same
period. Natural disasters disproportionately affect people living in developing
countries and the most vulnerable communities within those countries. Over 95
per cent of people killed by natural disasters are from developing countries
(Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters, 2012).
In developing countries, the incidence of natural disasters, the
impact of climate changes and the management of the natural environment
strongly influence the rate of development progress
In the decade 1990-2000, an average of about 4344 people lost
their lives and about 30 million people were affected by disasters every year.
The loss in terms of private, community and public assets has been
At the global level, there has been considerable concern over
natural disasters. Even as s scientific and material progress is made, the loss
of lives and property due to disasters has not decision. In fact, the human
toll and economic losses have mounted.
It was in this background that the Nations General Assembly, in
1989, declared the decade 1990-2000 as the International Natural Disaster
Reduction with the objective to reduce loss of lives and property and restrict
economic damage through concerted international action, especially in
India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on
account of its unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones,
earthquakes and landslides have been recurrent phenomena.
About 60% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various
intensities; over 40 million hectares is prone to floods; about 8% of the total
area is prone to cyclones and 68% of the area is susceptible to drought.
Over the past couple of years, the Government of India has brought
about a paradigm shift in approach to disaster management. The new approach
proceeds from the conviction that develop cannot be sustainable unless disaster
mitigation is built into the development process.
Another stone of the approach is that mitigation has to be
multi-disciplinary spanning across all sectors. The new policy also emanates
from the belief that investments in mitigation are much cost effective than
expenditure on relief and rehabilitation.
Disaster management occupies an important place in this country's
policy framework as it is poor and the under-privileged who are worst affected
on account of calamities/disasters.
The steps being taken by the Government emanate from the approach
outlined above. The app: has been translated into a National Disaster Framework
[a roadmap] covering institutional mechanic; disaster prevention strategy,
early warning system, disaster mitigation, preparedness and response human
The expected inputs, areas of intervention and agencies to be in
at the National, State and district levels have been identified and listed in
the roadmap. This road has been shared with all the State Governments and Union
Ministries Departments of Government of India, and the State
Governments/UT Administrations have been to develop their respective roadmaps
taking the national roadmap as a broad guideline. There is, therefore: now a
common strategy underpinning the action being taken by the entire participating
The approach is being
put into effect through:
(a) Institutional changes
(b) Enunciation of policy
(c) Legal and techno-legal framework
(d) Mainstreaming Mitigation into Development process
(e) Funding mechanism
(f) Specific schemes addressing mitigation
(g) Preparedness measures
(h) Community participation and capacity building
In India, the role of emergency management falls to National
Disaster Management of India, a government agency subordinate to the Ministry
of Home Affairs. In recent years, there has been a shift in emphasis, from
response and recovery to strategic risk management and reduction, and from a
government-centered approach to decentralized community participation.
Bilateral-Aid i.e. foreign and local, national funding is being
used to deal with disasters especially the post disaster phase
Community based disaster management:
The role of community participation in disaster management is very
important. When the community becomes a part of the decision making system it
ensures the ownership and accountability. It is very important for the medical
staff and doctors to know the local language for treating the disaster victims.
The local people have to be trained to manage the disasters. One of the most
effective mechanisms for a country to prepare for a disaster is by conducting
education and public awareness programmes at the local community level,
educating, preparing and supporting local populations and communities in their
everyday efforts to reduce risks and prepare their own local response
mechanisms to address disaster emergency situations.
Community based approach in disaster management is a process of
educating and empowering the population through sharing knowledge and
information about the various types of disasters and their potential risks as
widely as possible so that people act appropriately when a disaster happens.
Members of a community are the immediate victims of adverse effects of a
disaster. They have the best knowledge about their local surrounding in terms
of the most disaster-prone areas, the demography of their community and their
social and traditional organisation. Community leaders can create Community
Based Action Plans specific to their needs. This action plan incorporates the
hazard map, mock exercises and other important methods, skills and information
needed in preparation for a disaster.