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Disaster Management

Manish Borhade (Author)

Manish Nishad (Author)

Civil Department.JSPM NTC


Civil Department.JSPM NTC


AbstractThe current scale and frequencies of emergencies

that develop into disasters necessitate a professional approach
to their management. New initiatives for building resilience
provide opportunities for professional engineers to actively
engage in proactive services. These would focus on the
probable performance of existing and new infrastructure in
relation to hazard impacts of excessive magnitude during
normal service life of assets. Effective disaster management
will therefore be dependent on proactive preparedness, based
on improved risk assessments and widely increased resilience
capabilities. All opportunities for engagement with forensic
assessments, strengthening and rehabilitating existing
infrastructure, as well as in preparedness, response, recovery
and reconstruction activities, provide avenues for professional
engineers to develop more formal connections with emergency
service responders and the general public. Over the longer
term, the professions should develop a common understanding
for dealing proactively with emergency and disaster issues
rather than retrospectively, as so often happens at present.

Disasters whether natural or man-made can strike at any time.
In general, the general response to a disaster is in terms
of relief and rescue operations - after the event. However, if
we are adequately prepared, its possible to severely reduce the
impact of a disaster. The impact can be reduced through a
good understanding of preventive actions, as well as having
the knowledge of certain life-saving tools and techniques,
which when used at the time of the event of disaster can
control the total damage to life and belongings.
The biggest problem with the disasters is the suddenness and
swiftness with which they arrive. Hence, in order to reduce the
severity of a disaster the response also has to equally swift.
Lets first understand, what is a disaster. Dictionary meaning of
"disaster" may be taken as: "a sudden accident or natural event
that causes great damage or loss of life" - Oxford Dictionary.
So, as can be seen, disaster by definition itself is "sudden" and
causes immense damage to property and/or life.
Almost all of us can think of several disasters that have
occurred in the recent past.Earthquakes, industrial accidents,

oil-spills, forest-fires, terrorist activities etc. are some of the

more commonly encountered disasters.
Disasters themselves are not limited to specific parts of world,
though, certain areas might be more prone to certain specific
type of disaster, e.g. area around Pacific rim is more prone to
earthquakes, some countries are more prone to terrorist
activities, some coastal areas are more prone to cyclones, and,
some areas are more prone to floods. However, the more
advanced a nation is, typically, their level of preparedness is
higher. This higher level of preparedness allows them to have
a better control over the loss.
There are certain types of disasters, where, the loss during the
actual event is not necessarily as high, but, the losses become
very high due to inability to manage the situation in a timely
manner. More often than not, it happens due to confusion and
chaos in the context of too much loss, and, inefficient
utilization of resources - which are already strained.
Another thing which causes a lot of loss during certain kind of
disasters is the inability to properly manage and secure the
utilities, like: electricity, gas, water etc. On one side, each of
these utilities are very important, and, on the other side, due to
leakages/ruptures, some of these might come in contact with
each other, when they should not - causing further damage.
Thus, the main motivation behind disaster management is to
minimize the losses at the time of a disaster as well as ensure
most efficient utilization of resources - which are already
The United Nations defines a disaster as a serious disruption
of the functioning of a community or a society. Disasters
involve widespread human, material, economic or
environmental impacts, which exceed the ability of the
affected community or society to cope using its own
The Red Cross and Red Crescent societies define disaster
management as the organisation and management of resources
and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects

of emergencies, in particular preparedness, response and

recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters.

adopted a 10-year global plan for natural disaster risk

reduction called the Hyogo Framework. It offers guiding
principles, priorities for action, and practical means for
achieving disaster resilience for vulnerable communities.

A. Types of disasters
There is no country that is immune from disaster, though
vulnerability to disaster varies. There are four main types of



Natural disasters: including floods, hurricanes,

earthquakes and volcano eruptions that have immediate
impacts on human health and secondary impacts causing
further death and suffering from (for example) floods,
landslides, fires, tsunamis.

Environmental emergencies: including technological

or industrial accidents, usually involving the production,
use or transportation of hazardous material, and occur
where these materials are produced, used or transported,
and forest fires caused by humans.

Complex emergencies: involving a break-down of

authority, looting and attacks on strategic installations,
including conflict situations and war.

Pandemic emergencies: involving a sudden onset of

contagious disease that affects health, disrupts services
and businesses, brings economic and social costs.
Any disaster can interrupt essential services, such as health
care, electricity, water, sewage/garbage removal,
transportation and communications. The interruption can
seriously affect the health, social and economic networks of
local communities and countries. Disasters have a major and
long-lasting impact on people long after the immediate effect
has been mitigated. Poorly planned relief activities can have a
significant negative impact not only on the disaster victims but
also on donors and relief agencies. So it is important that
physical therapists join established programmes rather than
attempting individual efforts.

Humans have managed disasters and an overview of our past

experiences shows that management of disasters is not a new
concept. For example, in ancient India, droughts were
effectively managed through conventional water conservation
methods, which are still in use in certain parts of the country like Rajasthan. Local communities have devised indigenous
safety mechanisms and drought-oriented farming methods in
many parts of the country.

Local, regional, national and international organisations are all

involved in mounting a humanitarian response to disasters.
Each will have a prepared disaster management plan. These
plans cover prevention, preparedness, relief and recovery.

In the recent past, the role of NGOs in disaster management

(DM) has started changing from providing post-disaster relief
to strengthening pre-disaster preparedness and mitigation
through capacity building, public awareness campaigns, mock
exercises, workshops and conferences, etc. NGOs have also
started to collaborate with corporate entities in Public-Private
Partnership (PPP) projects and Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in the field of DM at State,
District and Sub-district levels. Till recently, the work of
NGOs in the field of DM has been mostly sporadic, reactive,
responsive and driven by local level compulsions in the
geographic areas where they are implementing development
projects and very often they faced enormous challenges in

B. Disaster prevention
These are activities designed to provide permanent protection
from disasters. Not all disasters, particularly natural disasters,
can be prevented, but the risk of loss of life and injury can be
mitigated with good evacuation plans, environmental planning
and design standards. In January 2005, 168 Governments



Volunteerism and social service has deep roots in India, since

time immemorial, even though it received special significance
during the freedom struggle through the Gandhian concept of
Shramdaan, implying the offering of free labour for some
noble cause like rural development, construction of social
assets and public infrastructure and amenities, etc. In postIndependent India, the Non-Governmental Organisations
(NGOs) have been providing support in critical sectors like
health, education, water supply and sanitation, shelter and
infrastructure, restoration of livelihoods, food security and
nutrition, environment, etc. Given Indias multi-hazard risk
and vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters, NGOs
have been playing a significant role in providing humanitarian
assistance to disaster-affected people in most of the severe
disasters like the Latur earthquake in 1993, Orissa super
cyclone in 1999, Bhuj earthquake in 2001, Indian Ocean
tsunami in 2004, Kashmir earthquake in 2005, Barmer floods
in 2006, Kosi floods in 2008,cyclones Aila and Laila and the
more recent cloud burst in Leh in August 2010, apart from
participating in providing relief to disaster affected
communities in various other localised disasters.

coordinating with the government machinery and even among

NGOs themselves.
There is a growing need to look at disasters from a
development perspective. Disasters can have devastating
effect on communities and can significantly set back
development efforts to a great extent. But then, it could also
offer an opportunity to invest in development efforts in a post
disaster scenario. Disasters are opportunities for communities
to reinvent themselves.
Disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness and relief are
four elements, which contribute to and gain from the
implementation of sustainable development policies. These
elements, along with environmental protection and sustainable
development, are closely inter-related. The Yokohama
Strategy, emanating from the international decade for natural
disaster reduction in May 1994, emphasizes that disaster
prevention, mitigation and preparedness are better than
disaster-response in achieving the goals and objectives of
vulnerability reduction.
The Government of India has adopted mitigation and
prevention as essential components of its development
strategy. The Tenth Five Year Plan emphasizes the fact that
development cannot be sustainable without mitigation being
built into the development process. In brief, Disaster
Management is being institutionalized into development
planning. But, there are various underlying problems in the
whole process. In fact, a number of problems stem from social
In the long run, the onus is upon the local communities to
handle disasters with the help of the state and other such
organizations. It is a well-known fact that the community
dynamics is quite complex in a country like India. There is a
need to address specific local needs of vulnerable
communities through local traditions and cultures. Restoration
of common property resources with the participation of the
local level bodies is a real challenge. The historical focus of
disaster management has been on relief and rehabilitation after
the event but now the focus is on planning for disaster
preparedness and mitigation. Given the high frequency with
which one or other part of the country suffers due to disasters,
mitigating the impact of disasters must be an integral
component of our development planning.
One of the glaring lacunae in the process of Disaster
Management in India has been the overlooking of unnatural
disasters. The recent efforts focus purely on natural disasters,
whereas the current global situation also demands initiatives in
managing the impact of unnatural disasters. Developments at
the international level, particularly the civil wars and civil
strife in Eastern Europe and Southern America culminating on
9/11 have brought the issue of unnatural disasters at the

forefront of disaster management. The global community has

recognized the serious consequences of Nuclear, Biological
and Chemical (NBC) warfare. This remains a serious
challenge for India to address in the near future.
The need of the hour is to chalk out a multi-pronged strategy
for total disaster management comprising prevention,
preparedness, response and recovery on the one hand and
initiate development efforts aimed towards risk reduction and
mitigation on the other. The countries in the Asia-Pacific
region should establish a regional co-ordination mechanism
for space-technology based disaster mitigation and strengthen
co-operation, Luan suggested, adding that they also need to set
up an all-weather and all-time comprehensive space-based
disaster mitigation system and share the information. A proactive stance to reduce the toll of disasters in the country
requires a more comprehensive approach that comprises both
pre-disaster risk reduction and post-disaster recovery. It is
framed by new policies and institutional arrangements that
support effective action.
F. Disaster response technologies
smart Emergency Response System (SERS) prototype was
built in the SmartAmerica Challenge 2013-2014, a United
States government initiative. SERS has been created by a team
of nine organizations led by MathWorks. The project was
featured at the White House in June 2014 and described by
Todd Park (U.S. Chief Technology Officer) as an exemplary
The Smart America initiative challenges the participants to
build cyber-physical systems as a glimpse of the future to save
lives, create jobs, foster businesses, and improve the economy.
SERS primarily saves lives. The system provides the survivors
and the emergency personnel with information to locate and
assist each other during a disaster. SERS allows to submit help
requests to a MATLAB-based mission center connecting first
responders, apps, search-and-rescue dogs, a 6-feet-tall
humanoid, robots, drones, and autonomous aircraft and ground
vehicles. The command and control center optimizes the
available resources to serve every incoming requests and
generates an action plan for the mission. The Wi-Fi network is
created on the fly by the drones equipped with antennas. In
addition, the autonomous rotorcrafts, planes, and ground
vehicles are simulated with Simulink and visualized in a 3D
environment (Google Earth) to unlock the ability to observe
the operations on a mass scale.

G. Disaster Prevention
These are activities designed to provide permanent protection
from disasters. Not all disasters, particularly natural disasters,
can be prevented, but the risk of loss of life and injury can be
mitigated with good evacuation plans, environmental planning
and design standards. In January 2005, 168 Governments

of CRPF(CTC-II at Coimbatore) and BSF Academy,

Tekanpur have also been identified to impart such training to
the teams from CRPF and
BSF. 16 teams have already been trained at NISA, Hyderabad
and BTC, Bhanu
and training of more teams is continuing. Training of trainers
of CRPF and BSF
will be conducted at NISA, Hyderabad in June and September,
2004 respectively.
Fire Services as Multi-hazard Response Units
In order to further strengthen our capacity for response, the
fire services are proposed to be developed into multi-hazard
response units (as is the practice in other countries). This will
require additional equipment and training. A project
for this (with an estimated cost of Rs.2457 crore) has been
drawn up. The Planning Commission has given in-principle
clearance to the project. The project is being submitted for inprinciple approval of Home Minister. A Note for the
Committee on Non Plan Expenditure is being finalized.

adopted a 10-year global plan for natural disaster risk

reduction called the Hyogo Framework. It offers guiding
principles, priorities for action, and practical means for
achieving disaster resilience for vulnerable communities.

H. Disaster Preparedness
These activities are designed to minimise loss of life and
damage for example by removing people and property from
a threatened location and by facilitating timely and effective
rescue, relief and rehabilitation. Preparedness is the main way
of reducing the impact of disasters. Community-based
preparedness and management should be a high priority in
physical therapy practice management.

I. Disaster Relief

L. Intertional Organisation

This is a coordinated multi-agency response to reduce the

impact of a disaster and its long-term results. Relief activities
include rescue, relocation, providing food and water,
preventing disease and disability, repairing vital services such
as telecommunications and transport, providing temporary
shelter and emergency health care.

1) Red Cross/Red Crescent

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies (IFRC) works closely with national Red Cross/Red
Crescent societies in responding to emergencies, many times
playing a pivotal role. In addition, the IFRC may deploy
assessment teams, e.g. Field Assessment and Coordination
Teams (FACT),to the affected country if requested by the
national society. After assessing the needs, Emergency
Response Units (ERUs)may be deployed to the affected
country or region. They are specialized in the response
component of the emergency management framework.

J. Disaster Recovery
Once emergency needs have been met and the initial crisis is
over, the people affected and the communities that support
them are still vulnerable. Recovery activities include
rebuilding infrastructure, health care and rehabilitation. These
should blend with development activities, such as building
human resources for health and developing policies and
practices to avoid similar situations in future.

2) United Nations

Disaster management is linked with sustainable development,

particularly in relation to vulnerable people such as those with
disabilities, elderly people, children and other marginalised
groups. Health Volunteers Overseas publications address some

of the common misunderstandings about disaster management.

K. Preperation in India
Specialist Response Teams Eight battalions of CPMFs are
being converted into specialist response teams for responding
to emergencies/disasters as well. Two training institutions
CISF/ NISA, Hyderabad and the ITBP/BTC, Bhanu (near
Chandigarh) have been developed as nodal institutions for
training the trainers as well as the teams. The training centres

The United Nations system rests with the Resident

Coordinator within the affected country. However, in practice,
the UN response will be coordinated by the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), by
deploying a UN Disaster Assessment and
Coordination (UNDAC) team, in response to a request by the
affected countrys government.
Authors: D.
Broadbent 1 ; Susan
Source: Proceedings of the ICE - Forensic
Engineering, Volume 166, Issue 3, 01 August 2013
, pages 143 153
Planning Commission (2002); "Tenth Five Year Plan (20022007) - Vol.1"; Planning Commission, Government of India;
New Delhi.