Disasters, one of man’s oldest concerns, reach back to periods of pre- history and myth, yet strangely enough, are hardly an area of critical scrutiny. A disaster is defined by the Asian Disaster Risk Reduction Center as “Disasters are known as sudden events, which bring serious disruption to society with massive human, material and environmental losses and theses losses always go beyond the capacity of the affected society to cope with its own resources.” A disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of a society, causing widespread human, material or environmental loss which exceeds the ability of the affected society to cope using only its own resources. Disasters may be sudden (like an earthquake / tsunami) or slow ( like a drought) or they could be natural or man-made. 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, social-economic, political and cultural state of the affected area. Generally, disaster has the following effects in the concerned areas.
There are many definitions of a disaster:Parker (1992) reviewed the concept of disaster, and suggested that the preferred definition of disaster is:. . . An unusual natural or man-made event, including an event caused by failure of technological systems, which temporarily overwhelms the response capacity of human communities, groups of individuals or natural environments and which causes massive damage, economic loss, disruption, injury, and/or loss of life. This definition encompasses medical accidents and disasters such as those which affect of whooping cough vaccine, Opren and HIV/AIDS haemophiniac cases.
The United Nations defines a disaster as: "A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources." (From theUN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction)
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. It completely disrupts the normal day to day life. It negatively influences the emergency systems. Normal needs and processes like food, shelter, health, etc. are affected and deteriorate depending on the intensity and severity of the disaster. It may also be termed as “a serious disruption of the functioning of society, causing widespread human, material or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected society to cope using its own resources.” A disaster may have the following main features:- Unpredictability, Unfamiliarity, Speed, Urgency, Uncertainty, and Threat. Thus, in simple terms we can define disaster as a hazard causing heavy loss to life, property and livelihood.
Meaning of Disaster Management
Disaster management is a public authority field, a group of professions and an interdisciplinary research field that deals with the processes used to protect a population or organization from the consequences of disasters, wars and acts of terrorism. Emergency management doesn't necessarily extend to the averting or eliminating the threats themselves although the study and prediction of the threats is an imminent part of the field. The basic levels of emergency management are the various kinds of search and rescue activity.
The termDisaster Managementis contentious as it implies that disaster and relief efforts can be viewed as simply an extension of localemergency management. That is, that something called a "disaster" is "manageable" at all. This is explicitly contested by some efforts like the USABIDEframework. The terms "crisis" and "disaster" are not well defined and may be useful for this reason, but also may be avoided. "Relief", "response", "resilience" "emergency management" are less contentious.
Disaster management can be defined as the organization 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.
Type of Disaster
The complete EM-DAT divides disasters into 2 categories (natural and technological), and further divides the natural disaster category into 5 subcategories, which in turn cover 12 disaster types and more than 30 subtypes (see Table 1). The principal categories and subcategories are shown below.
Disaster subcategory definitions
Geophysical: Events originating from solid earth
Meteorological: Events caused by short -lived/small to meso- scale atmospheric processes (in the spectrum from minutes to days)
Hydrological: Events caused by deviations in the normal water cycle and/ or overflow of bodies of water caused by wind set- up
Climatological: Events caused by long- lived/ meso- to macro- scale process (in the spectrum from intraseasonal to multi – decadal climate variability)
Biological: Disaster caused by the exposure of living organisms to germs and toxic substances.
Mass movement (dry)
Storm surge/coastal flood
Mass movement (wet)
Extreme winter condition
Source: UCL, “EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database,” UCL,
Natural disasters are catastrophic events resulting from natural causes such asvolcanic eruptions, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc., over which man has no control. Natural disasters are often termed “Acts of God”. Man-made disasters, on the other hand, are those catastrophic events that result from human decisions. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2003) highlighted that a man-made disaster refers to non-natural disastrous occurrences that can be sudden or more long-term. Sudden man-made disasters include structural, building and mine collapses when this occurs independently without any outside force. In addition air, land, and sea disasters are all man-made disasters.Long-term man-made disasters tend to refer to national and international conflicts. There are disasters that result from both human error and natural forces. These are hybrid disasters. An example of a hybrid disaster is the extensive clearing of jungles causing soil erosion, and subsequently heavy rain causing landslides.
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth'scrust that creates seismic waves. At the Earth's surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by vibration, shaking and sometimes displacement of the ground. The vibrations may vary in magnitude. Earthquakes are caused mostly by slippage within geological faults, but also by other events such as volcanic activity, landslides, mine blasts, and nuclear tests. The underground point of origin of the earthquake is called the focus. The point directly above the focus on the surface is called the epicenter. Earthquakes by themselves rarely kill people or wildlife. It is usually the secondary events that they trigger, such as building collapse, fires, tsunamis (seismic sea waves) and volcanoes, that are actually the human disaster. Many of these could possibly be avoided by better construction, safety systems, early warning and planning. Some of the most significant earthquakes in recent times include: The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the third largest earthquake recorded in history,registering a moment magnitude of 9.1-9.3. The huge tsunamis triggered by this earthquake killed at least 229,000 people.
Volcanoes can cause widespread destruction and consequent disaster in several ways. The effects include the volcanic eruption itself that may cause harm following the explosion of the volcano or the fall of rock. Second, lava may be produced during the eruption of a volcano. As it leaves the volcano, the lava destroys many buildings and plants it encounters. Third,volcanic ash generally meaning the cooled ash - may form a cloud, and settle thickly in nearby locations. When mixed with water this forms a concrete-like material. In sufficient quantity ash may cause roofs to collapse under its weight but even small quantities will harm humans if inhaled. Since the ash has the consistency of ground glass it causes abrasion damage to moving parts such as engines. The main killer of humans in the immediate surroundings of a volcanic eruption is the pyroclastic flows, which consist of a cloud of hot volcanic ash which builds up in the air above the volcano and rushes down the slopes when the eruption no longer supports the lifting of the gases. It is believed that Pompeii was destroyed by a pyroclastic flow. A lahar is a volcanic mudflow or landslide. The 1953 Tangiwai disaster was caused by a lahar, as was the 1985 Armero tragedy in which the town of Armero was buried and an estimated 23,000 people were killed .
A specific type of volcano is the supervolcano. According to the Toba catastrophe theory 75,000 to 80,000 years ago a super volcanic event at Lake Toba reduced the human population to 10,000 or even 1,000 breeding pairs creating a bottleneck in human evolution. It also killed three quarters of all plant life in the northern hemisphere.
Afloodis an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges landThe EUFloods directivedefines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water.In the sense of "flowing water", the word may also be applied to the inflow of thetide. Flooding may result from the volume of water within a body of water, such as ariverorlake, which overflows or breaks levees, with the result that some of the water escapes its usual boundaries.While the size of a lake or other body of water will vary with seasonal changes in precipitation and snow melt, it is not a significant flood unless the water covers land used by man like a village, city or other inhabited area, roads, expanses of farmland, etc.
Tsunamis can be caused by undersea earthquakes as the one caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, or by landslides such as the one which occurred at Lituya Bay, Alaska.The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake created the Boxing Day Tsunami. On March 11, 2011, a tsunami occurred near Fukushima, Japan and spread through the Pacific.
Cyclone,tropical cyclone,hurricane, andtyphoonare different names for the same phenomenon a cyclonic storm system that forms over the oceans. The deadliest hurricane ever was the1970 Bhola cyclone; the deadliest Atlantic hurricane was theGreat Hurricane of 1780which devastated Martinique, St. Eustatius and Barbados. Another notable hurricane isHurricane Katrinawhich devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005.
Drought is unusual dryness of soil, resulting in crop failure and shortage of water for other uses, caused by significantly lower rainfall than average over a prolonged period. Hot dry winds, high temperatures and consequent evaporation of moisture from the ground can contribute to conditions of drought.
Hailstorms are falls of rain drops that arrive as ice, rather than melting before they hit the ground. A particularly damaging hailstorm hit Munich, Germany, on July 12, 1984, causing about 2 billion dollars in insurance claims.
A heat wave is a period of unusually and excessively hot weather. The worst heat wave in recent history was the European Heat Wave of 2003.A summer heat wave in Victoria, Australia, created conditions which fuelled the massive bushfires in 2009. Melbourne experienced three days in a row of temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F) with some regional areas sweltering through much higher temperatures. The bushfires, collectively known as "Black Saturday", were partly the act of arsonists.The 2010 Northern Hemisphere summer resulted in severe heat waves, which killed over 2,000 people. It resulted in hundreds of wildfires which causing widespread air pollution, and burned thousands of square miles of forest.
An epidemic is an outbreak of a contractible disease that spreads through a human population. A pandemic is an epidemic whose spread is global. There have been many epidemics throughout history, such as the Black Death. In the last hundred years, significant pandemics include. The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, killing an estimated 50 million people worldwide. The 1957-58 Asian flu pandemic, which killed an estimated 1 million people. The 1968-69 Hong Kong water flu pandemic. The 2002-3 SARS pandemic. The AIDS pandemic, beginning in 1959. The H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu) Pandemic 2009-2010
A tornado is a violent, dangerous, rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloudor, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. It is also referred to as a twister or a cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology in a wider sense, to refer to any closed low pressure circulation. Tornadoes come in many shapes and sizes, but are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, whose narrow end touches the earth and is often encircled by a cloud of debris anddust. Most tornadoes have wind speeds less than 110 miles per hour (177 km/h), are approximately 250 feet (80 m) across, and travel a few miles (several kilometers) before dissipating. The most extreme tornadoes can attain wind speeds of more than 300 mph (480 km/h), stretch more than two miles (3 km) across, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles (perhaps more than 100 km).
Present synario of disaster in India
Many regions in India are highly vulnerable to natural and other disasters on account of geological conditions. About 60% of the total area of the country is vulnerable to seismic damage of buildings in varying degrees. The most vulnerable areas, according to the present seismic zone map of India, are located in the Himalayan and sub-Himalayan regions. Kutch and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which are particularly earthquake hazard prone. Over 8% Indian area of 40 million hectares is prone to floods, and the average area affected by floods annually is about 8 million hectares. Of the nearly 7,500 kilometers long coastline, approximately 5,700 kilometers is prone to cyclones, and 68% area is susceptible to drought (India, Ministry of Home Affairs, 2004, p. 3) .
India which supports just on 2 per cent landmass, one-sixth of the world’s population suffers heavily from natural disasters of different kinds that hit the poorest of the poor and which is why the considerations of disaster safety deserves prime attention. The Parliament of India passed the Disaster Management Bill 2005. According to the Bill No: LV5:
(d) “disaster” means a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence affecting any area, arising from natural or manmadecauses, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, ordegradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area; . . . (India, Parliament, Rajya Sabha, 2005).
India has a highly diversified range of natural features. Its unique geo- climatic conditions make the country among the most vulnerable to natural disasters in the world. Disasters occur with amazing frequency in India and while the society at large has adapted itself to these regularoccurrences, the economic and social costs continue to mount year after year. It is highly vulnerable to flood, drought, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, volcanoes, etc. Almost all parts of India experience one or more of these events (Gupta 2000). The country also from time to time experiences some man- made disasters, which cause considerable damages to property and loss of lives.
During 1980-2010, India has experienced 431 natural disasters. The natural disasters resulted in 1,521,726,127 fatalities, and 143,039 casualties. Natural disasters which occurred in India have been summarized infollowing Table (1980-2010).
No of events: 431
No of people killed: 143,039
Average killed per year: 4,614
No of people affected: 1,521,726,127
Average affected per year: 49,087,940
Economic Damage per year
(US$ X 1,000): 1,550,446
Table: Natural Disasters from 1980 – 2010
A severe Super Cyclonic Storm with winds of upto 250 km/h crossed the coast in Orissa on October 29, 1999. This may prove to have been the worst cyclone of the century in the Orissa region and is responsible for as many as 10,000 deaths, for rendering millions homeless and for extensive damage (WMO, 1999) High magnitude floods during the monsoon season are considered to be India’s recurring and leading natural disaster (Kale et al., 1994). The country has to face loss of life and damage to property due to severe floods time and time again. Heavy flood damages were experienced in the country during the monsoonsof 1955, 1971, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1998, 2001 and 2004. Central Water Commission has compiled the damage figures due to flood from 1953 to 2004 on the basis of which yearly average loss to life is reported to be about to 1590 and the damage to public utilities Rs. 8068 billion( *USD 184 Billion).
Severe losses were also caused by floods in recent past, e.g. heavy monsoon rains triggered landslides and flooding in India in July, 2006, specifically in the regions around Mumbai. Over 1,100 people lost their lives, and the insured property damage amounted to USD 0.8 billion. Swiss Re reports in the year 2007 related to 20 worst catastrophes in terms of victims hasalso indicated that India is one of the most victim-prone countries compared with others. The numbers of people affected in the rest of the world were 111,159, in Asia the number was 554,439 and within Asia, 24 per cent of deaths due to disasters occurred in India (Shashi Shankar, 2007). A study by Chowdhury, Dandekar & Raut (1989) have ranked the year 1918 as the worst drought year of the last century a year when about 68.7% of the total area of the country was affected by drought. Likewise the severe drought years of 1877 and 1987 were followed by flood years of 1878 and 1988. In the 19th century the droughts of 1877 and 1899 followed by the early droughts of the twentieth century. In the last century the drought of 1987 and 1972 are the next in order of severity. Occurrence in drought of consecutive years has been reported in 1904-05, 1951-52, 1965-66. These pair of years was associated with moderate droughts, where at least 25% of the country was affected. During 1999, 2000 and 2001 drought conditions prevailed over some parts of India, not affecting the country as a whole significantly. During 2002 twelve out of 36 subdivisions of the country came under the grip of moderate to severe drought when about 29% of the total area of the country was affected by drought.
Fifty-seven percent of the country is prone to seismic activity. During the international decade of natural disaster reduction, India suffered the adverse impact of several earthquakes, the most significant being in Uttarkashi, Latur and Jabalpur. Some of the most devastating earthquakes which India has faced in the past include the Kutch earthquakes of 2001 and 1819, the Shillong earthquake of 1897, the Kangra earthquake of 1905, the Bihar-Nepal earthquake of 1934, the North-East and Assam earthquake of 1950 the Anjar earthquake in Gujarat of 1956, etc. The seismic zonation map of India shows the north-eastern states, Kutch region of Gujarat and Uttaranchal as most vulnerable. In 1996, flashfloods intruded into the desert state of Rajasthan. The floods killed about 100 people. But in subsequent months more than 1,000 lives were lost due to a malaria epidemic, as the flood-accumulated waters became an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Amplified by a systemic failure, the epidemic took a heavy toll, far more than the flood itself, in a region not known for water-borne diseases.
Man- made disasters
Man- made disasters can be sudden or long term disasters (IFRCRCS, 2003) . Sudden man- made disasters are known as Industrial accidents and Transportation accidents. India has experienced several man-made disasters. India has experienced 480 man-made disasters in the period of 1990-2009 .On December 3, 1984, a highly toxic cloud of methyl isocyanate leaked from Tank – E610 engulfing the city of Bhopal. The leak was the consequence of a large volume of water entering one of the MIC storage tanks around 9:30 pm the day before. This triggered off a chemical reaction resulting in a tremendous increase of temperature and pressure in the tank. Around 12:30 am 40 tonnes of MIC along with hydrogen cyanide and other reaction products exploded into the night air of Bhopal. Of the 800,000 people living in Bhopal at that time, no one knows exactly how many people were affected that night. While the UCC, in its official statement on the tragedy, maintained that 3,800 died, the Indian Government argued that 1,754 people were killed and 200,000 injured. Sources like the Delhi Science Forum and Amnesty International however, place the toll at 5,000 and 7,000 respectively. According to Shrivastava (1987, p. 65) circumstantial evidence of death, based on the number of shrouds sold and quantity of cremation wood used, seems to suggest that around 10,000 people died that night. Lapierre and Moro (2002, p. 371) place the death toll in between 16,000-30,000. Union Carbide contended that the gas leak could only have been caused by deliberate sabotage.Therehave been many transportation accidents in India. The deadliest head-on mid-air collision of aircrafts in the world, the worst air disaster in India, and the fourth deadliest air disaster in the world, occurred over Charkhi Dadri, near Delhi on November 12, 1996, killing 349 people. The aircrafts involved were a Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747 passenger aircraft carrying 312 passengers and crew and an Ilyushin II-76TD belonging to Kazakhstan Airlines, carrying 37 passengers and crew. One of them, or both, did not stick to the prescribed height, and did not maintain the required vertical separation. Both the planes collided at a speed of 500 km per hour and instantly caught fire. There were no survivors.
June 22, 2003, in the first major accident on the Konkan Railway, 53 people, including three children, were killed and 25 injured when the engine and three coaches of the KarwarMumbai Central Holiday Special train derailed after crossing Vaibhavwadi station in Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra .
Role of NGOs
The Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief prepared jointly by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is sponsored by Caritas Internationalist, Catholic Relief Services, The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Save the Children Alliance, Lutheran World Federation, Oxfam, The World Council of Churches, The International Committee of the Red Cross. Purpose This Code of Conduct seeks to guard our standards of behavior. It is not about operational details, such as how one should calculate food rations or set up a refugee camp. Rather, it seeks to maintain the high standards of independence, effectiveness and impact to which disaster response NGOs and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement aspires. It is a voluntary code, enforced by the will of the organization accepting it to maintain the standards laid down in the Code. In the event of armed conflict, the present Code of Conduct will be interpreted and applied in conformity with international humanitarian law. The Code of Conduct is presented first. Attached to it are three annexes, describing the working environment that we would like to see created by Host Governments, Donor Governments and Inter-governmental Organizations in order to facilitate the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance.
NGOs: NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) refers here to organizations, both national and international, which are constituted separately from the government of the country in which they are founded.
-The Humanitarian imperative comes first
-Aid is given regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone
-Governments should recognise and respect the independent, humanitarian and impartial actions of NGHAs: NGHAs are independent bodies. This independence and impartiality should be respected by host governments.
-Aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint
-We shall endeavour not to act as instruments of government foreign policy
-We shall respect culture and custom.
-We shall attempt to build disaster response on local capacities.
-Ways shall be found to involve programme beneficiaries in the management of relief aid
-Relief aid must strive to reduce future vulnerabilities to disaster as well as meeting basic needs
-We hold ourselves accountable to both those we seek to assist and those from whom we accept resources
-In our information, publicity and advertising activities, we shall recognise disaster victims as dignified humans, not hopeless objects
Role of government :
Host governments should facilitate rapid access to disaster victims for NGHAs: If NGHAs are to act in full compliance with their humanitarian principles, they should be granted rapid and impartial access to disaster victims, for the purpose of delivering humanitarian assistance. It is the duty of the host government, as part of the exercising of sovereign responsibility, not to block such assistance, and to accept the impartial and apolitical action of NGHAs. Host governments should facilitate the rapid entry of relief staff, particularly by waiving requirements for transit, entry and exit visas, or arranging that these are rapidly granted. Governments should grant over-flight permission and landing rights for aircraft transporting international relief supplies and personnel, for the duration of the emergency relief phase.
Governments should facilitate the timely flow of relief goods and information during disasters: Relief supplies and equipment are brought into a country solely for the purpose of alleviating human suffering, not for commercial benefit or gain. Such supplies should normally be allowed free and unrestricted passage and should not be subject to requirements for consular certificates of origin or invoices, import and/or export licences or other restrictions, or to importation taxation, landing fees or port charges. The temporary importation of necessary relief equipment, including vehicles, light aircraft and telecommunications equipment, should be facilitated by the receiving host government through the temporary waving of licence or registration restrictions. Equally, governments should not restrict the re-exportation of relief equipment at the end of a relief operation. To facilitate disaster communications, host governments are encouraged to designate certain radio frequencies, which relief organisations may use in-country and for international communications for the purpose of disaster communications, and to make such frequencies known to the disaster response community prior to the disaster. They shouldauthorise relief personnel to utilise all means of communication required for their relief operations.
Governments should seek to provide a coordinated disaster information and planning service: The overall planning and coordination of relief efforts is ultimately the responsibility of the host government. Planning and coordination can be greatly enhanced if NGHAs are provided with information on relief needs and government systems for planning and implementing relief efforts as well as information on potential security risks they may encounter. Governments are urged to provide such information to NGHAs. To facilitate effective coordination and the efficient utilisation of relief efforts, host governments are urged to designate, prior to disaster, a single point-of-contact for incoming NGHAs to liaise with the national authorities.
Disaster relief in the event of armed conflict: In the event of armed conflict, relief actions are governed by the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law
Role of Education institutions:
The importance of education in promoting and enabling Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) has already been identified by researchers and policy makers. In doing so, there is a renewed focus on disaster risk education in primary and secondary schools. Mainstreaming DRR into school curricula aims to raise awareness and provide a better understanding of disaster management for children, teachers and communities. Accompanying structural changes to improve safety in building schools will not only protect children and their access to education, but will also minimise long term costs.
There is increasing evidence that students of all ages can actively study and participate in school safety measures, and also work with teachers and other adults in the community towards minimising risk before, during and after disaster events. Methods of participatory vulnerability assessment, capacity assessment and hazard mapping have been be used with broader communities surrounding schools and other institutions of education and research. Government can effectively reach out to communities and protect them by focusing on schools in DRR initiatives to achieve greater resilience to disasters.