Over last 20 years, more than 8,50,000 people have died from disasters in Asia Pacific. It is also seen that disasters keep striking in one way or other. In times of disasters, it is the leadership by people that propel better outcomes.
What is Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Risk Management?
Disaster by itself is something which upsets the normal routine and it is not easy to come back to.
Disaster Risk Reduction: If the society and the people are made resilient to disaster, then automatically there is a reduction in disaster.
Disaster Risk Management: The risk of disaster is reduced by proper disaster management systems. It could be either by preventing or being prepared by disasters or building up the capacity of people to face disasters so that the damage caused by disasters is minimal or nil.
PM Modi recently inaugurated the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Management. This is the first major inter-governmental event after the adoption of the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. PM came up with 10 point agenda for the people and he said that disaster risk reduction has a pivotal role in supporting adaption to climate change as well as sustainable development.
PM’s 10 point agenda
All development sectors must imbibe the principles of disaster risk management.
Work towards risk coverage for all-starting from poor households to SMEs to multi-national corporations to nation states.
Encourage greater involvement and leadership of women in disaster risk management.
Invest in risk mapping globally. For mapping risks related to hazards like earthquakes India has accepted standards and parameters.
Leverage technology to enhance the efficiency of our disaster risk management efforts.
Develop a network of universities to work on disaster issues.
Utilise the opportunities provided by social media and mobile technologies.
Build on local capacity and initiative.
Opportunity to learn from a disaster must not be wasted. After every disaster there are papers on lessons that are rarely applied.
Bring about greater cohesion in international response to disasters.
The all-inclusive agenda presents a holistic approach to disaster risk management and addresses a whole range of issues, from community preparedness to use of technology and international cooperation.
Disaster Management in India
Cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes or floods, though the magnitude of disasters may have increased, the losses are probably getting reduced as there has been some improvement in management of disasters.
During disasters 30-40 years ago, the army was called for disaster management or for relief management. But it was more of adhoc measure at that time. Now it is a well-planned integrated system.
World over there has been lot of development in disaster management. India also has put in place the National Disaster Management Authority with a Disaster Management Act, 2005. Along with it, there are State Disaster Management Authorities too in almost all the states with respective State Disaster Management Acts and Rules. This shows that disaster management arrangements have been well organised at the national level and state level.
Now there are efforts being made to take it down to community level, panchayats and other grassroots levels. All the districts have been already involved in this exercise.
People have to be integrated, resources have to be integrated and managed well and other activities have to be also performed as a part of disaster risk reduction planning. The disasters are not going to end, so everyone has to be well prepared.
The first National Disaster Management Plan, 2016 aims to make India disaster resilient and significantly reduce the loss of lives and assets. India has now Indian Ocean tsunami warning system. Also, India is far more prepared to tackle with heavy cyclones with minimal destruction and damage to life and property. Earlier, there were only talks about disaster reliefs or responding to a disaster. But now there are talks on disaster risk reduction. So it’s a sea change in thoughts and approach to it. This has come over by very good system of disaster management.
In 1999-2000, the nodal ministry for National Disaster Management was Ministry Of Agriculture as the disasters were limited to famines and draughts. Later, one of the recommendations was that it should be shifted to Ministry of Home as lot of manpower, police force and other rescue forces, resources are required as the nature of disasters also included manmade disasters. Now the focus is changing to holistic management of disasters.
Today there is National Disaster Response Force under Ministry of Home and Indian Army is also well integrated into local disaster management along with district administration level. This is a sea change in the progress that India is making in this way.
Expanding the scope of disaster risk reduction
Development of all sectors must imbibe the principles of disaster risk management which will ensure the development of projects such as airports, roads, canals, hospitals, schools, bridges are built with appropriate standards. Disaster management has to be dovetailed into developmental sectors. Today, even the building codes have changed and become better. They have become area specific now depending upon earthquake zone or flood zone.
It is fairly significant as of late there has been awareness among people too. When they go to buy a house, they ask if the building is earthquake resistant or not. Earlier, when fire took place due to total lack of any sort of safety regulations, people considered it fate or negligence. But now, when a fire incidences take place, there is hue and cry about why the safety standards are not being followed. Media coverage of lack of fire safety at important buildings raises more awareness as well as forces the owners to comply. Thus, bringing this safety concept of prevention of disasters is very important and people are showing their awareness about following of the prescribed infrastructural standards.
A modern disaster challenge is the growing urbanisation where there are clusters of people living in concentrated neighbourhoods. Unplanned growth and development of population and congestion of unauthorised buildings is increasing. They block the passage of fire safety which leads to more complications during disaster relief process. Hence, urbanisation should be planned in holistic manner where multiple dimensions are factored into for better development.
There is a need for better insurance coverage as insuring oneself against disaster is the basic concept of disaster management and insurance. When the house is insured and it follows all the safety standards, the insurance premium will be less and insurers will also ensure that whatever insurance is being made, follows proper safety norms. Hence, there will be incentives for being prepared.
There are multiple insurances like crop insurance, life insurance, medical insurance and it has to be understood that insurance is to reduce the risk in the event of disaster. There will be a possibility to return to normal life very soon with help of insurance. So insurance is a good disaster risk reduction technique.
Risk mapping – there have been uniform parameters for measuring earthquakes and India has mapped specific zones. Thus, there is now a need for such globally accepted standards for chemical hazards, forest fires, cyclones, floods. India has developed seismic maps, cyclone prediction maps, wind maps, hazard prone area map. Along with mapping, there has been immense growth in technology that helps generate computer simulations to identify the intensity of damage. There is also real time data information which has become a very good tool in disaster risk reduction.
Use of satellites-. The technology and resources, put in use through satellites are useful in giving early warning, mapping and meteorology data, globally. This makes it important from point of view of international cooperation.
Use of social media and mobile technology to inform people about potential risk in case of cyclone or other tragedies has been increasing. In all disaster management methods, warning systems will be very crucial. Along with technology, how to inform at the last point should definitely use social media.
Community participation– Along with warning, it is awareness generation amongst the known as well as potentially disaster-affected community. This will build the capacity of disaster preparedness through community involvement. The first responders will be able to give the information and help to each other.
International recognition– International competition of documentary films that record the disaster events can be held, UN can bring about a common logo and branding under which all those helping with relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction get international response.
Cooperation, knowledge network, involvement of universities, research specific areas, linking at international level can be undertaken.
Connecting the dots:
What is the difference between Disaster Management and Disaster Risk Reduction? Analyse India’s preparedness in tackling probable disasters within its boundaries.