Various disasters like earthquake, landslides, volcanic eruptions, fires, flood and cyclones are natural hazards that kill thousands of people and destroy billions of dollars of habitat and property each year. The rapid growth of the world's population and its increased concentration often in hazardous environment has escalated both the frequency and severity of natural disasters. With the tropical climate and unstable land forms, coupled with deforestation, unplanned growth proliferation non-engineered constructions which make the disaster-prone areas mere vulnerable, tardy communication, poor or no budgetary allocation for disaster prevention, developing countries suffer more or less chronically by natural disasters. Asia tops the list of casualties due to natural disaster. Among various natural hazards, earthquakes, landslides, floods and cyclones are the major disasters adversely affecting very large areas and population in the Indian sub-continent. These natural disasters are of (i) geophysical origin such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, land slides and (ii) climatic origin such as drought, flood, cyclone, locust, forest fire. Though it may not be feasible to control nature and to stop the development of natural phenomena but the efforts could be made to avoid disasters and alleviate their effects on human lives, infrastructure and property.
Disaster management, also known as emergency management, arose out of Cold War era Civil Defense initiatives. Since Sept. 11, 2001, businesses and government agencies have worked to improve disaster readiness to minimize civil and commerce disruption in the event of a catastrophe. In the United States, disaster management is spearheaded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Is more than just response and relief (i.e., it assumes
a more proactive approach)
Is a systematic process (i.e., is based on the key
management principles of planning, organising, and
leading which includes coordinating and
Aims to reduce the negative impact or consequences
of adverse events (i.e., disasters cannot always be
prevented, but the adverse effects can be minimised)
Is a system with many components
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Disaster management is an enormous task. They are not confined to any particular location, neither do they disappear as quickly as they appear. Therefore, it is imperative that there is proper management to optimize efficiency of planning and response. Due to limited resources, collaborative efforts at the governmental, private and community levels are necessary. This level of collaboration requires a coordinated and organized effort to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and their effects in the shortest possible time.
The diagram below shows the Disaster Management Cycle.
Mitigation: Measures put in place to minimize the results from a disaster. Examples: building codes and zoning; vulnerability analyses; public education.
Preparedness: Planning how to respond. Examples: preparedness plans; emergency exercises/training; warning systems.
Response: Initial actions taken as the event takes place. It involves efforts to minimize the hazards created by a disaster. Examples: evacuation; search and rescue; emergency relief.
Recovery: Returning the community to normal. Ideally, the affected area should be put in a condition equal to or better than it was before the disaster took place. Examples: temporary housing; grants; medical care.
The primary focus of disaster management is to prevent disasters wherever possible or to mitigate those which are inevitable. Four sets of tools that could be used to prevent or mitigate disasters include: a Hazard management and vulnerability reduction
b Economic diversification