The term “Disaster” owes its origin to the French word “desastre” which is a combination of two words ‘des’ meaning ‘bad’ and ‘astre’ meaning star. Thus, the term ‘disaster’ refers to ‘bad’ or evil star’. A disaster may be defined as – “a serious disruption of the functioning of society, causing widespread human material and environmental losses which exceed the ability of the affected society to cope using its own resources.” Disasters pose a serious threat to the normal life as well as the process of development, and strike with sudden violence destroying lives and structures and throwing family apart. With burgeoning population Pressures, Urban industrial growth, deforestation and cultivation of marginal lands the human-inducedhazards have also increased.
The impact of disasters is multidimensional affecting in all aspects – Domestic, Social, Economic and Environmental, etc. A disaster is a product of hazards such as Earthquake, Flood or Windstorm coinciding with a vulnerable situation which may include communities, cities or villages. Among the top ten countries in terms of average annual loss, of lives due to natural disasters, all except Australia are developing countries. India, amongst those nations is the most vulnerable to natural hazards. Due to its geographical position, climate and geological setting, India has been experiencing natural disasters every year. In India, natural disasters claim a significant toll of population, destroy/damage more than two million houses and convert many thousand hectares of land into infertile land annually. About 60 per cent of the total country is vulnerable to earthquake, 8 per cent area prone to cyclones and 12 per cent vulnerable to floods. The 5700 km long coastline is vulnerable to cyclones and 68 per cent of Net Sown Area (116 districts) is vulnerable to drought.
Types of Disasters :Disasters can be categorized as of three types :
- Natural disaster
- Man-made disaster
- Hybrid disaster
Natural Disasters is the result of Natural Phenomenon, for Instance, Earthquake, Tsunami, Volcanic Eruption, Hurricane, Tornado, Avalanche or Flood.
Man – made disasters are of an anthropogenic origin, and exemplifies some of the terrible accidents that have resulted from human beings’ interaction with artificial environment, which they themselves have created. Bhopal gas tragedy, Chernobyl accident in Russia, etc, are some of the examples of such disasters.
Hybrid disasters arise from a linkage of anthropogenic events and natural events. For example – spread of disease from a community in which the disease is endemic to a community which has no natural immunity, destruction of forests and resulting increased floods, large scale deaths due to smog etc. Hybrid disasters can also be categorized and termed complex disasters or compound disasters. In many parts of the world one kind of disaster can trigger another type of disaster which in turn triggers subsequent kind of disasters resulting in huge loss of life and property.
About Disaster Management Disaster management is a multi – disciplinary area covering a wide range of issues such as monitoring, evaluation, search and rescue, relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation. It also requires Multi – Sectoral Governance, Scientists, Planners, Volunteers and Communities all having important roles to play. These roles and activities span the pre-disaster, during the disaster and the post – disaster phases. Since their activities are complementary as well as supplementary to each others, their is a critical need for coordination in their activities. Disaster management is nothing but skilful ways, means and methods of controlling a disaster. When awareness, and education about disasters are provided to the people, disaster management becomes a simpler task. India being a poor and developing country, lack of awareness and illiteracy plays animportant role in the vulnerability of the masses. Disaster management techniques or methods are based on the economic status of any country and hence it varies from country to country. Developed countries manage disasters better and quicker than developing countries. Climate change is already changing the geographic distribution, frequency and intensity of weather-related hazards and threatens to undermine the resilience of poorer countries and their citizens to absorb loss and recover from disaster events. Climate change therefore magnifies the impact of disasters on people and assets in developing countries. With changing climate globally the role of disaster management experts is also growing day by day.
According to the UN findings global disaster risk increased between 1990 and 2007 by 13 per cent in terms of mortality and 35 per cent in terms of economic loss. In the case of floods, due to rapid world population and GDP growth in disaster-prone areas in relative terms the trends are stable and may even be falling. Global disaster risk is highly concentrated in poorer countries with weaker governance.The most intensive risk is found in a very small portion of the earth’s surface. Just three countries – Bangladesh, China and India (all heavily populated) – account for 75 per cent of the mortality risk from floods only. In such a scenario, the job of disaster management experts is aiso in great demand in these countries.