Disaster Management

India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and land slides are regular phenomenon in India. Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMPTC) has prepared a vulnerability atlas of India, depicting the multi-hazard scenario. As per this, out of the total geographical area of 32,87,263 km, about 60% of the land mass 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.

When a community is vulnerable to hazards, it leads to disaster. A dangerous condition or event that threatens or have the potential for causing injury to life or damage to property or the environment. There are two types of hazards:
a) Natural Hazards-having meteorological, geological or biological origin.
b) Unnatural Hazards-having human origin or technological origin.
A natural phenomenon like earthquake, occurring in an unpopulated area cannot be 
considered as a hazard. The same earthquake when interacts with man made 
environment, causes wide spread damage (hazard) to both life and property, it results in a 
disaster.

During 1990-2000, on an average of about 4344 people lost their lives, about 30 million people were affected by various disasters every year and average annual damage has been estimated to be approximately 2700 million rupees. As per the World Bank estimates, during 1996-2001 the total loss due to disasters, including the super cyclone of Orissa in October 1999 and the Bhuj earthquake in Gujarat in January, 2001, amounts to US $ 13.8 billion.

The past two decades has seen an increase in the occurrence of disasters in India, both natural and unnatural. Recent disasters that occurred at Chennai, Bhuj, Pakistan, Kashmir, USA etc has indicated that the people are more vulnerable to different types of disasters than earlier days. In India the disaster management has different levels-Block/Taluk level, District level, State level and central level.

The need of the hour is to look in to the entire cycle of disaster management from a different angle than what it was viewed earlier. Earlier disasters were viewed as isolated events and were considered as emergencies. Disasters have deep socio-economic impact on the community at micro level and on the country at the macro level. Thus the approach of disaster management from ‘Relief and emergency response’ to amulti-dimensional approach involving diverse scientific, engineering, financial and social processes. A scheme/approach has already been designed by GOI. This is a balanced approach covering all phases of the disaster management cycle.

The new approach involves community participation and community ownership in disaster risk reduction. This approach reduces vulnerability of people and minimizing the loss. The earlier approach of disaster management mainly aimed at rescue, rehabilitation process. The present approach aims at analyses of the past disasters, approach and response to past disaster occurrences, methods employed etc. Based on this an action plan is prepared to reach the victims within the critical period, during emergency, to protect people and assets. This approach has helped in developing mechanisms to mitigate disasters at the gross root level, through participation of communities.

Communities, living in the vicinity, are the first responders and having more contextual familiarity with hazards. The resources available can be better used and better planned for prevention of life loss and property. Thus a community based disaster preparedness plan is designed.

Community based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP): The goal is to reduce vulnerability of the concerned community and strengthen its existing capacity to cope with disasters.
The approach is to motivate community participations (It is a pre-requisite for disaster

 

Management), collectively addressing the issue of disaster management, collective efforts of community and timely assistance of concerned authorities needed in saving the lives, property and also lessening the impact of disaster.

The Components of CBDP:

  • Village Disaster Management Committee (VDMC).
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  • Review and analysis of past disasters.
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  • Preparing seasonality Calendar of Disasters.
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  • Mapping Exercises-Resource mapping, risk vulnerability mapping and safe and alternate route map.
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  • Disaster Management Team- Early warning team, Shelter management team, Evacuation and rescue team, Medical and first aid team, Water and sanitation team, Caracas disposal team, Counseling team, Damage assessment team, Relief and co-ordination team.
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  • Mock Drills.