Saturday, June 22, 2013

Define the term 'disaster' and describe its classification.

Disaster is a sudden, calamitous event bringing great damage, loss, and destruction and devastation to life and property. The damage caused by disasters is immeasurable and varies with the geographical location, climate and the type of the earth surface/degree of vulnerability. This influences the mental, socio-economic, political and cultural state of the affected area. Generally, disaster has the following effects in the concerned areas.

1.  It completely disrupts the normal day to day life
2.  It negatively influences the emergency systems
3.  Normal needs and processes like food, shelter, health, etc. are affected and deteriorate depending on the intensity and severity of the disaster.


Generally, disasters are of two types – Natural and Manmade. Based on the devastation, these are further classified into major/minor natural disaster and major/minor manmade disasters. Some of the disasters are listed below,

Major natural disasters:  
·         Flood
·         Cyclone
·         Drought
·         Earthquake
Minor natural disasters:
·         Cold wave
·         Thunderstorms
·         Heat waves
·         Mud slides
·         Storm
Major manmade disaster:
  • Setting of fires
  • Epidemic
  • Deforestation
  • Pollution due to prawn cultivation
  • Chemical pollution.
  • Wars

Minor manmade disaster:

·         Road / train accidents, riots
·         Food poisoning
·         Industrial disaster/ crisis
·         Environmental pollution

What is Disaster Management Cycle ?

  • How would you define vulnerability?

    • Vulnerability is the characteristics and circumstances of a community, system or asset that make it susceptible to the damaging effects of a hazard. 
    • There are many aspects of vulnerability, arising from various physical, social, economic, and environmental factors. 
    • Examples may include poor design and construction of buildings, inadequate protection of assets, lack of public information and awareness, limited official recognition of risks and preparedness measures, and disregard for wise environmental management. 
    • Vulnerability varies significantly within a community and over time. 
    • This definition identifies vulnerability as a characteristic of the element of interest (community, system or asset) which is independent of its exposure. 
    • However, in common use the word is often used more broadly to include the element's exposure.

    What is Total Disaster Risk Management Approach?

    • Total Disaster risk management approach is to understand the disaster and areas prone to it and prevent loss to human and property. 
    • Although a few countries have adopted risk management concepts and principles in disaster management, most countries, especially developing countries, remain unfamiliar with this approach. 
    • The prevailing practices, particularly in Asia, are more inclined towards managing response to disasters (which requires preparedness) than towards managing risks and the underlying conditions that lead to disasters (which requires, among others, risk assessment, vulnerability reduction, and capacity enhancement). 
    • However, the terms “risk” and “total” have become management. science jargons whose application to disaster management should be examined and explained well in order for them to be effectively communicated to policy- makers &d the general public. 
    • In this regard, the concept of “risk”, which in science connotes probability, needs to be understood adequately (and not to be confused with hazard). Also, the concept of “total”, which has been widely used in the context of total quality management, needs to be developed as it relates to disaster risk management. 
    • Since these have become the 1ingo”l of industrial, business and management professionals, the development and promotion of the total disaster risk management approach could enable professionals previously less concerned to have meaningful involvement in disaster management.
    What are the major features of Emergency Operations Centre

    It has been observed that at the time of a calamity/disaster, communication services are the first to go out of order. It has therefore been decided to put in place multi-mode and multi-channel communication systems so that enough redundancy is available. The communication network between the national and the State EOCs and the site of the emergency/crises has also been worked out .

    • Emergency Operation Center plays a vital role in the Emergency Operation activation. 
    • It coordinates the flow of information with respect to activities associated with relief operations. 
    • During the normal times it maintains a systematic database of the resources available, important phone numbers, names and addresses of important government and non-government officials, international bodies, NGOs. 
    • During crisis it is expected to function as a center for decision-making and help flow of information horizontally and vertically to the respected departments for smoother relief operations.
    National Emergency Operations center (NEOC)

    • To coordinate the entire disaster/emergency operations effectively, the existing Control Room at the national level has been being upgraded as National Emergency Operations center (NEOC). 
    • The NEOC is equipped with satellite phones, GPS, computers, emergency lights, GIS information system etc. in five on-site emergency coordination kits in ready-to-use mode. 
    • Staffs in the NEOC have been trained. 
    • A state of the art underground an all-hazard resistant NEOC with superior structural features and communication facilities has been set up.

    The function of control room is not only to control disaster but also to look after rehabilitation and mitigation. No one knows when disaster will strike, so it's better to be prepared from beforehand to reduce loss of life. We can summarize the function of control room in three simple phases:
    1.     Preparation
    2.    Prevention
    3.    Mitigation

    Emergency Operation Center monitors different disaster mitigation programme and co-ordinates with different organization. It also conducts evaluation of the programmes, and immediately takes up necessary measures. Besides, the EOCs may act as control rooms for various other purposes such as law and order problem, elections, VIP movements and other activities requiring coordination.

     Incident Command System in India. 

    • ICS was introduced in India during 2003 in order to professionalize the emergency/disaster response management system in the country by the adoption of the System as practiced by the USFS. It seeks to strengthen the existing disaster response management system by ensuring that the designated controlling/responsible authorities at different levels are backed by trained Incident Command Teams (ICTs), whose members have been trained in the different facets of emergency/disaster response management. 
    • Given the territorial jurisdiction in the country, Incident Commanders are in effect designated for different territorial jurisdictions in advance.  In a Block/Circle, the Block Development Officer/Circle Officer functions as the Incident Commander.  When a incident is of a serious nature or transcends the boundary of a block, the Sub-Divisional Officer/Sub-Collector acts as the Incident Commander.  In case of a more complex disaster, the Collector/District Magistrate functions as Incident Commander.  In a widespread calamity where a number of districts are involved, the State Administration led by the Chief Secretary and the State Relief Commissioner is involved in mobilizing resources or deciding priorities. 

    Describe structural and non-structural mitigation measures in disaster management.

     Structural Measures to Reduce Disaster Risk
     Nonstructural Measures to Reduce Disaster Risk

    • Disaster prevention and mitigation techniques can reduce the economic and social impacts of natural disasters. 

    • Structural measures are the most traditional approach used to reduce disaster risk through proper engineering practices. 

    • Examples include designing electrical power systems and transportation infrastructure to withstand weather and earthquakes; sinking transmission lines for protection from hurricanes; and, building levees and dams to minimize floods. 

    • Other flood mitigation measures include: construction of floodways, spillways, hydraulic control structures, dykes, dams, control gates, drainage system improvements (including river-dredging) and flood detention basins.

    • Nonstructural mitigation measures are non-engineered activities that reduce the intensity of and vulnerability to hazards. 
    • Nonstructural mitigation measures include such activities as land use planning and management; zoning ordinances and building codes; public education and training; and coastal, upstream and mountain reforestation. 
    • Nonstructural measures can be encouraged by governmental and private-industry incentives, such as preferential tax codes and deductibles, or by adjusted insurance premiums that reward private loss-reducing measures. 
    • Numerous parties can implement nonstructural mitigation measures: governmental authorities with the power to legislate and enforce building codes and zoning requirements; 
    • NGO’s that initiate neighborhood loss-prevention programs; and private sector enterprises that provide incentives for loss-reducing measures. 
    • Nonstructural mitigation measures are particularly appropriate for developing countries because these remedies usually require fewer financial resources.


    Tit - Bits 

    • UN’s World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in Kobe, Japan, in 2005, only days after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

    • Hyogo framework for action (2005-2015)

    1. It was adopted by 168 member states of UN at world disaster reduction conference held in Hyogo,Japan in 2005
    2.It was first plan to layout road map for governments and different sectors to bolster resilience of nations and communities against disaster and reduce losses.
    3.Expected outcome:The substantial reduction of disaster losses, in lives and in the social,economic and environmental assets of communities and countries.


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