Disaster Management

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CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND
1.One of the primary concerns of any nation state is to ensure peace and security for sustainable development. Any nation whose human and material resources are constantly decimated by disasters and whose citizenry is regularly traumatised cannot be mobilised for any meaningful development. Most times, disasters occur with such regularity that huge human and material resources, which could have otherwise been used in national development, are lost annually to address disasters and for the rehabilitation of their victims. The magnitude of the pain or losses usually determines whether the occurrence is a minor accident or a disaster.1 A disaster is an event or hazard that causes serious loss, destruction, hardship, unhappiness or even death.2 Disasters are grouped into natural or man-made. Whether natural or man-made, disasters are usually catastrophic, resulting often in injuries, losses in lives and properties thus causing wide spread disruptions.

2.Natural disasters are those hazards that result from actions/inactions or effects of natural elements or agents such as weather, floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides and avalanches. They are usually rapid or slow in character and the intensity of disruptions caused to people and property vary.3 Man-made disasters occur from man’s act of commission or omission and are rarely preceded by warning. Such disasters include road, air and train accidents, boat mishaps, explosions, civil disturbances, war and terrorism.4

3.Disasters, are usually complex phenomena requiring instantaneous and well coordinated counter measures on the part of government to manage them.5 This is because of the huge losses and costs that often result from them. Efforts therefore have to be made to prevent or manage them in a way that relief is brought to the victims. These measures include clear national policies, legislation, integrated plans, training, public awareness and funding for disaster management. Through these efforts, there will be improved measures relating to prevention, mitigation, preparedness, responses and recovery.

4.Disaster management refers to the series of steps taken by a nation that pulls the resources of relevant bodies and organisations within its territory towards preventing, preparing, responding and recovery from disasters. The organisations could be civil, para-military or military.6 In order to bring the awareness of the efforts mentioned above to the knowledge of governments and to also alleviate the sufferings of victims, the UN declared the period between 1990 – 1999 an International Decade for Reduction of Natural Disasters (IDRND).7 As a follow up, the UN organised and held campaigns world wide on disaster reduction measures with the Nigerian version which took place in Ibadan in October 1999.8

5.As part of Military Assistance to Civil Authority (MACA), most nations rely on their security forces for disaster management. Indeed the security forces have highly integrated administrative/command and inherent capabilities to respond promptly to disasters. They are usually required to provide emergency services such as rapid evacuation, search and rescue (SAR), secure life and property, provide emergency medical aid as well as participate in post disaster management reconstruction. For instance, when the state of Gujarat in India experienced devastating earthquake on 26 January 2001, more than 1.2 million houses were damaged while 20,086 people were killed and over 20,000 injured. The Government of India deployed about 23,500 soldiers with appropriate equipment for emergency rescue and relief operations in the state.9

6.Nigeria has had disasters in the past which impacted directly on the society causing human suffering and socio-economic losses. Some of the devastating disasters in the history of the nation are those of the flood disaster of Bagauda Dam, Kano in...
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