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Disaster Management

A disaster can be defined as any occurrence that causes damage, ecological disruption, loss of human
life, deterioration of health and health services on a large scale, sufficient to warrant an extraordinary
response from outside the affected community or area.
A disaster can be defined as an occurrence either nature or manmade that causes human suffering and
creates human needs that victims cannot alleviate without assistance.
American Red Cross (ARC)

A disaster is a natural or man-made (or technological) hazard resulting in an event of substantial extent
causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment,
such as earthquakes, floods, catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions.
Disasters are distinctly different for each kind of disasters. Thus, understanding of each kind of disaster
helps in identifying the onset of a disastrous event, so that a trained person can undertake some key
actions, during the initial stages. This could have a major impact on the final outcome in terms of
amount of final loss.
The fact remains that we cannot avoid disasters but can make attempts to minimize its impacts. Thus it
becomes necessary for us to develop a comprehensive system towards a better management of disasters.

Disaster management (or emergency management) is the discipline of dealing with and
avoiding both natural and manmade disasters. It involves preparedness, response and recovery in order
to lessen the impact of disasters. It may also involve preparedness training by private citizens. All
aspects of disaster management deal with the processes used to protect populations or organizations
from the consequences of disasters, wars and acts of terrorism. Complete disaster management includes
the shaping of public policies and plans either modify the causes of disaster or mitigate their effects on
people property and infrastructure.

Disaster Management Involves

Dealing with and avoiding both natural and man made disasters.
Preparedness before disaster.
Rebuilding and supporting society after the disasters.

Disaster management cycle

Disaster management cycle illustrates the ongoing process by which government, businesses and civil
society plan for and reduce the impact of disaster, react during an immediately forming a disaster and
takes steps to recover a disaster has occurred.

o Mitigation - Minimizing the effects of disaster.

Examples: building codes and zoning; vulnerability analyses; public education.
o Preparedness - Planning how to respond.
Examples: preparedness plans; emergency exercises/training; warning systems.
o Response - Efforts to minimize the hazards created by a disaster.
Examples: search and rescue; emergency relief .
o Recovery - Returning the community to normal.
Examples: temporary housing; grants; medical care.

Types of Disasters : Natural & Man Made

1. Natural
These are primarily natural events. It is possible that certain human activities could maybe aid in
some of these events, but, by and large, these are mostly natural events.

Tornadoes, Typhoons, Cyclones
Hurricanes and tropical storms
Landslides & debris flow
Thunderstorms and lighting

2. Man Made
These are mostly caused due to certain human activities. The disasters themselves could be
unintentional, but, are caused due to some intentional activity. Danger originating from technological or
industrial accidents, dangerous procedures, infrastructure failures or certain human activities, which may
cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental

Types of Manmade disasters or Technological occurrences that include:


Industrial accidents
Nuclear Leaks
Chemical Leaks/Spill over
Structural Collapse
Terrorist Activities

1. Industrial accidents:

It refers to blasts, explosions during production, storage, transportation. Industrial accidents can be
controlled or minimised by proper training, accident prevention programme, by implementing
important legal provisions for industrial safety etc.

2. Chemical Leaks/Spill over

As the world is making rapid advancements in the field of industrialization, there are huge chemicals
plants dealing with all kinds of chemicals. Chemical plants deal with hazardous materials. Chemical
leaks are caused due to blast and explosion in chemical factories during production, storage,
transportation etc. poisonous gases like Methyl Isocyanate is realized in the air. The amount of safety
measures employed by chemical plants is a function of risk and hazard associated with the specific
chemical plants. The most notoriously known incident is Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Some of the other major
incidents involving chemical units include:

Contamination of the Songhua River in China following an explosion at the Jilin Chemical
Industrial Company plant in Novement 2005.
Gasoline pipeline explosion at Ihado in Nigeria in May 2006
Explosion at Azote de France (AZF) factory near Toulouse, France which released Ammonium
Nitrate in September 2001

3. Nuclear Leaks
This refers to accidental release of radiation exceeding safety levels. The problem with accidents/leaks
with nuclear installation is that radioactive material gets discharged into the environment. This
radioactive material could then enter human bodies through air/food/water. Leakages may be from
nuclear reactors and research laboratories, atomic power stations. installations are highly sophisticated,
and, have lots of control measures in place to prevent any major hazard. In spite of all these
sophistications etc. accidents could still occur and the impact is severe.
Some of the worst known nuclear accidents have been at: Fukuchima disaster in which the Fukushima Daiichi
Nuclear Power Plant was heavily damaged by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
The Chernobyl disaster was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl
Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the
atmosphere, which spread over much of the western USSR and Europe.
The Chernobyl disaster is widely considered to have been the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, and is
one of only two classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event
Scale .

4. Structural Damage

Structural damages come under two major categories:

1. Large Scale damage to structures. These are typically caused due to some other primary disaster
- Earthquakes, Volcanoes ,Flooding, Tornadoes ,Tsunamis this can also lead to chemical
plants leaks etc.
2. Damage to individual buildings/structures. These are relatively minor problems, and, in most
cases have a high degree of predictability. e.g. building, bridges etc. Usually, structural collapse
does not happen suddenly. There are signs given which when ignored could lead to structural
5. Terrorist Activities
Conventional bombs have been used to damage and destroy financial, political,
social, and religious institutions. Attacks have occurred in public places and on
city streets with thousands of people around the world injured and killed.
Devastating acts, such as the terrorist attacks on the Oklahoma City and
September 11th, States. Large scale terrorist activities can be prevented only
through timely collection and analysis of intelligence data. The only
precaution that general population can take is to remain observant of their
surroundings, and, report any suspicious activity to the law-enforcement

Major Disasters in India: 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, 2001 Gujarat earthquake , 2004
Indian Ocean tsunami, 2008 Mumbai attacks

Causes of natural disasters:

1. Poverty
2. Growth of population
3. Rapid urbanisation
4. Environmental degradation
5. Lack of information and awareness

Causes of industrial disaster

1. The main cause of disasters in industry is because of employment of
uneducated / illiterate people.

2. Unsafe conditions and unsafe acts such as insufficient workspace lighting, excessive
noise, slippery or unsafe flooring, extreme temperature exposure, inadequate
protection when working with machinery or hazardous materials, unstable
structures, electrical problems, machine malfunction or failure etc.

3. Result of employee negligence or employers.

Management and mitigation of natural disasters:

Pre-disaster measures:
1. Using various devices of remote sensing, satellite mapping for identifying the
natural disasters
2. Public awareness programme such as informing the people about the
disaster prone zones, planting of trees in landslides prone zones etc.
3. Improving structural qualities of schools, houses and such other buildings, so
that medical causalities can be minimized.
4. Training of rescue operations to NGOs, Police, fire fighting,
5. Making the infrastructures safe for expected disasters. Eg: building of dams,
building of channels, etc to control floods..
6. Disaster warning systems and emergency food supply and medical services.
7. Insurance of properties

Post-disaster measures:
1. Start rescue operations immediately.
2. Provide emergency medical assistance, food to affected people.
3. Prepare rehabilitation and resettlement plans.

Management and mitigation of man made disasters:

Pre-disaster measures:
1. Disaster mapping and regular inspections of chemical storage facilities,
regular inspections of chemical factories. Knowledge of various
processes/machines etc. involved which could create a blast/explosion etc.
2. Mobilize and train disaster volunteers for more effective preparedness,
mitigation and response (NSS, NCC, Scouts and Guides, Civil Defence,
Homeguards). Efficient fire fighting facilities in and around the industry /
3. Includes emergency exercises/training; warning systems; emergency
communications systems; evacuations plans and training; resource
inventories; emergency personnel/contact lists; mutual aid agreements; and
public information/education.
4. Arranging regular programmes for creating awareness and preparedness of
emergencies at local level. The preparedness of people around large
chemical plants and storage facilities should include: making them aware as
to what are the kind of chemicals being used/produced/stored/handled at the
5. Governments, organizations, and communities needs to be prepared to
respond to any emergency situation through programs that strengthen the
technical and managerial capacity.
6. Installing a mechanism for the community to be able to alert the factory
staff, in case they notice something going wrong (e.g. unusual discharge
from chimney and/or any other kind of liquid/gaseous vent/outlet etc.).

Post - disaster measures:

1. Evacuation of people in the area where the disaster has taken place and
starting search and rescue operations immediately and arranging for cleanup
2. Monitoring environmental effects
3. Governments, organizations, and individuals develop plans to save lives,
minimize disaster damage, and enhance disaster response operations.

4. Developing long-term and short-term strategies, public education and

building early warning systems.

GOI NGO Disaster preparation and Response Committee

Members, World Vision of India, SOS Children's Village India, Ramakrishna
Mission, Plan international, OXFAM India Trust, Lutheran World Service India, Red
Cross, Catholic Relief Services, CASA, CARITAS India, Voluntary Health
association Of India, etc.

New Directions for Disaster Management in India

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been set up as the
apex body for Disaster Management in India, with the Prime Minister as its

8 Battalions of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) are being trained and
deployed with CSSR and MFR equipments and tools in eight strategic locations.

A National Disaster Mitigation Fund will be administered by NDMA. States and

districts will administer mitigation funds.