Disaster Management - An Overview

March 25, 2011
When a  cyclone, or an earthquake or a terrorist attack strikes our world, we all start talking about the ill preparedness of the State in dealing with it or in other words we say the Disaster management was not good.

I have tried my bit to explain the various facets, meanings and usage of various terms related to Disaster Management used by a common man in day to day life ( to begin with).  I shall be writing about what to do to save yourself and your family and your community when a disaster strikes.

But, as a starter, let's see what the terms actually mean....

What is a Hazard?

Hazard is a dangerous event, natural or human induced that could cause injury, loss of life or damage to property, livelihood or environment.  a hazard could be natural, socio-natural or human induced. 

What is a Disaster?

A disaster whether natural or human-induced, is an event which results in widespread human loss.  It is accompanied by loss of livelihood, property causing suffering and loss in a definite area (Say a cyclone)

When Does a Hazard lead to a disaster?

A disaster occurs when the impact of hazard on a section of society is such that the people are unable to cope with the event, causing death, injury, loss of property and/or economic losses. An earthquake, if occurs in a very low populated area like a Desert may not have that impact as it would have in a densely populated city, hence here a hazard can become a disaster.
What is vulnerability?
It is the condition determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes, which increase the susceptibility of a community to the impact of hazards. People living in highly dense residential areas with bad exit routes are more physically vulnerable. People who are socially and economically under-privileged, obviously living in kutcha houses, or in low lying flood prone areas are more vulnerable.  Also, small children, women, old people are socially vulnerable group which will affected more severely than others.

What is Mitigation?

Mitigation, as we know is 'Any measure taken to minimize the impact of a disaster or potential disaster.  Mitigation can take place before, during or after a disaster, but the term is most often used to refer to actions taken against potential disasters."

How does Mitigation help the society?

Mitigation efforts help the people by creating safer communities and reducing loss of life and property.  Mitigation measures include enforcing strict building codes (in earthquake prone areas), flood proofing requirements, construction of houses away from hazardous areas etc

What is Disaster management?

Disaster Management covers the range of activities designed to maintain control over disasters/emergency situations and to provide a framework for helping people to avoid, reduce the effects of, or recover from impact of a disaster.  These activities may be related to preparedness, mitigation, emergency response, relief and recovery(Reconstruction and rehabilitation) and may be conducted before, during or after a disaster (Source : Living with Risk, UN ISDR 2002)

The various stages of Disaster Management

Finally, just would like to add that more emphasis in our country is on the rescue and relief operations and less on the preparedness to minimize the effect of a disaster. 

Dear reader, a big part of the northern India is in the seismic zone, prone to earthquake, therefore, to start, I shall bring out the points to be taken care of in the advent of an earthquake, the do's and the don'ts and the emergency kit that all households should have.

take care


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Pic credit- GIS devp.net


Prateek said...

A separate subject called Disaster Management has also been introduced in 9th and 10th standard to bring awareness among kids. I scored 93 out of 100 in it. :P

Alka Gurha said...

Unfortunate that we do not take disaster management seriously until disaster strikes...not in India.Hope and pray that it never does...or I dread to think.

... Madhumathi ... said...

I agree with the comment by Alka.. :)

V seriously.. dont concentrate on disaster management subject until a disaster occurs.. :)

Still.. thankful to government.. who r trying to make children aware abt dis.. :)

Good post.. n good blog too ^_^

BookWorm said...

mmm.. this article is quite unlike your previous ones.. more technical.. but i am not going into the technicals.. simple because.. can we able to got for the technicals when disaster strikes.. ??? well its a big no.. yeah.. you can always take preventive action...but then.. how much is how much..? can we predict the magnitude of the strike...? again no..? so this will always fail..

i had written something unique about Japan in the previous post of yours .. but i think because i wrote last, it was not noticed.. i would like to re-iterate that here too.. for that involves the essence of disaster management...

while the entire tragedy was happening... when trucks were floating and ships were thrown off.. we never saw on tv..any of the people crying and wailing... and never ever saw any reporter making any 'live' action coverage.. infact. everyone was busy helping each other.. and the whole scenario showed people who are disciplined while driving off to higher reaches.. there were never any traffic blocks.. and people managed well... and there were no looting and mob activities.. media reports were not sensationalized... imagine such a tragedy in delhi.. and people trying to escape themselves to far off places.. we simply can't because of the traffic jam that will ensue... and the road rage that will follow will itself overtake the collateral damage that Japan saw in its worst disaster...

we don't even have access to gas masks.. in the event of a radiation fallout.. where as in fakushima.. we saw every household stored it like we store salt and pepper...

i think these things go a long way to restrict the damage that a natural disaster can cause... and these are the things that are need to be taught in schools or even among social groups or RWAs.. rather than going into the disaster itself..

p00ja said...

India is faced with more horrific and recurrent problems to be dealt with on a day to day basis, that we tend to ignore and put such natural occurrences on the back burner, call is God's will!

Vyankatesh said...

A good collation!!

cricketzap said...

awesome blog with great design. as php designer i like this blog with creativity design, and come to posting mind blowing content.

Ram A Singh said...

Not only general public even government agencies are only wake up after calamities happened. They are blaming each other. awareness about disaster management need to be spread all over.this is not one man war.

zephyr said...

Japan is an example of disaster striking even the most prepared states. Thanks to their excellent disaster management plan they have managed to crawl back to normalcy. one shudders to think of what would be the condition in India if something like that were to happen.

Mohinee said...

Thanks Restless. This is very very important. Some terms and info is very new for me too. Thanks for such an info again and again. I have promoted of course.

Vaish said...

Unless we are hit by a disaster, we will not understand the importance of learning and being precautious!!
This is a good eye opener on the subject RS!!

S.R.Ayyangar said...

Disaster Management is still 'Non priority' sector to majority of the Governmental authority.Many small small things which a common man can contribute to disaster management is very well explained in a mail I have received and would like to share here-TEN THINGS TO LEARN FROM JAPAN EARTHQUAKE/TSUNAMI/NUCLEAR REACTORS
1. THE CALM-Not a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.
2. THE DIGNITY-Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.
3. THE ABILITY-The incredible architects, for instance. Buildings swayed but didn’t fall.


People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.
5. THE ORDER-No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.
6. THE SACRIFICE-Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
7. THE TENDERNESS-Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.
8. THE TRAINING-The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
9. THE MEDIA-They showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins. No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.
10. THE CONSCIENCE-When the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves and left quietly!

Agent Mulder said...

Nicely researched.
And more importantly, I agree with you!

Jack said...


Very informative. I agree with Alka on what she said. Floods is a recurring feature but still we lack proper preparedness or precautions. Bhopal tragedy is another example and still we hear of gas leaks here & there. I feel now it is upto us a citizens to organise ourselves for Disaster Management.

Take care

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Thanks for the overwhelming response, dear blogger pals..

I shall be replying to all individually, soon.



Arpana said...

Disaster management fortunately getting awareness in education and among masses and it is a thing to be reminded again and again.

Deepa said...

It was very heartening to read your post. I work in the social sector and have been part of several relief efforts - during floods and tsunami. I've also experienced the Gujarat earthquake. It really shook me up (pardon the pun). I went to the website of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority - and read up on the precautions that people can take and protect themselves at the time of earthquake. And I practiced those for as long as I lived in Ahmedabad. I would suggest that people also try reading up the information on the site of National Disaster Management Authority. Thanks again. Your post was very refreshing.


Type your reply...Deepa, it's really nice to know that you are working in social sector and have also been contributing in relief work for such natural disasters.

Would like to remain in touch with u through blogging :)

Thanks dear... in the next two posts on earthquake, I have taken the material from NDMA site and another book. Generally, people avoid reading sites which are very 'officious', so thought of putting them in my personal blog.

your comment is very encouraging. Thanks a ton :)

Vaibhav said...

thanx a lot...d above really helped

Vaibhav said...

Hey restless....i'm a student of class IX . also, i'm given a project on disaster mnagement... ps. if u dont mind wud  explain me the methodology of DM associated wth study at various levels INdia and world.

gayathri said...

thnx. i was searching for this for grade 9 project .

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