Principles of Disaster Management


Disaster, as defined by the United Nations, is a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society, which involve widespread human, material, economic or environmental impacts that exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.
According to the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, a disaster occurs when hazards impacts on vulnerable people. The combination of hazards, vulnerability and inability to reduce the potential negative consequences of risk results in disaster. Disaster has the following effects in the concerned areas :

1. It completely disturbs the normal day-to-day life.
2. It negatively influences the emergency systems.
3. Normal needs processes like food, shelter, health etc. affects and deteriorate depending on the intensity and severity of the disaster.
Thus a disaster may have the following main features :
a. Unpredictability
b. Unfamiliarity
c. Speed
d. Urgency
e. Uncertainty
e. Threat
It can be categorized into various types based on their speed and origin / cause.
A. Disasters can be slow or rapid, based on their speed :
1. Slow onset disaster:  A disaster that prevails for many days, months or even years like drought, pest infestation, environmental degradation etc. are some examples of a slow onset disasters.
2. Rapid onset disaster: It is the disaster that triggers by an instantaneous shock. Earthquake, cyclone, the flash flood, volcanic eruption are some example of rapid onset disasters.
B. Disasters can be natural or human-induced based on their origin / cause :
1. Natural Disasters: A natural disaster is an event that causes by a natural hazard and leads to human, material, economic and environmental losses, which exceed the ability of those affected to cope.
Examples: The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2008 earthquake in China, The 2007 Cyclone in Myanmar, the recurrent droughts in Rajasthan and the annual floods in both rural and urban area of northern and western India.
2. Human-induced disasters: A serious disruption of normal life triggered by a human-induced hazard causing human, material economic and environmental losses, which exceed the ability of those affected to cope.
Examples: The 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, the 1997 Upahar Cinema fire in  Delhi, Rajdhani Express Train derailment in 2002, Kumbakonam school fire tragedy in 2003, Jaipur serial blasts in 2008.
Following is the data of world distribution of disasters triggered by natural hazards occurred between 1995 and 2004 :


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 effect of, or recover from impact of a disaster. Disaster management involves various activities like preparedness, mitigation, relief and recovery etc., which may conduct before, during or after a disaster. Events and information during the disaster are confusing and it constantly faces authorities within the relief system with a need to make quick decisions. Management offers the person, in command, a framework for deciding and bringing these events under control. So, it is very important that disaster managers thoroughly understand their role and responsibilities and be familiar with the tools of disaster management. The principles of disaster management are :
1. Disaster management is the responsibility of all spheres of government : No single service or department can achieve comprehensive disaster management. Each affected service or department must have a disaster management plan it coordinates which through the Disaster Management Advisory Forum.
2. Disaster management should use resources that exist for a day-to-day purpose: There are limited resources available specifically for disasters and it would be neither cost effective nor practical to have large holdings of dedicated disaster resources. However, municipalities must ensure that there is a minimum budget allocation to enable the response to incidents as they arise, and to prepare for and reduce the risk of disasters occurring.
3. Organizations should function as an extension of their core business: Disaster management is about the use of resources in the most effective manner. To achieve this during disasters, they must use organizations in a manner that reflects their day-to-day role. But someone should do it in a coordinated manner across all relevant organization, so it is multidisciplinary and multi-agency.
4. Individuals are responsible for their own safety: Individuals need to know of the hazards that could affect their community and the countermeasures, which include the municipal disaster management plan are in place to deal with them.
5. Disaster management planning should focus on large-scale events: It is easier to scale down a response than it is to scale up if it have based arrangements on incident scale events. If you are well prepared for a major disaster. you will respond well to smaller incidents and emergencies good multi agency responses to incidents. It will help if of a major disaster.
6. Disaster management planning should recognize the difference between incidents and disasters: Incidents like fires that occur in informal settlements and floods that occur regularly, still require multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional coordination. The scale of the disaster will shows when it is a beyond capacity of the municipality to respond, and when it needs the involvement of other agencies.
7. Disaster management  operational arrangements are additional and do not replace incident management operational arrangements: Incident management operational arrangements differ from that of disaster management operational arrangements will need to continue whenever practical, during disaster operations.
8. Disaster management planning must consider the physical environment and the structure of the population: The physical shape and size of the municipality and the spread of population must consider while developing counter disaster plans to ensure that appropriate prevention, preparation, response and recovery mechanisms put in place.
9. Disaster management arrangements must recognize the involvement and potential role of non-government agencies: Significant skills and resources needed during disaster operation are controlled by non-government agencies. These agencies must consult and included in the planning process.

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