Oct 2 – Reimagining Disaster Management – https://youtu.be/m9_ex-aiMBY
- GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, cyclone
- GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
- GS-III: Disaster and disaster management.
Reimagining Disaster Management
“It is not the disaster, but the lack of preparedness to disaster that kills”.
Former President of United States of America Mr. Barak Obama had said, “When disaster strikes, it tears the curtain away from the festering problems that we have beneath them.” The quote seems to be true when we see various pitiable scenes in the aftermath of disasters in India.
Animals getting washed away in floods, trees and electric poles getting uprooted by cyclonic winds, houses crashing down like the pack of cards in wake of earthquakes, etc, have become a second nature in India. All these harrowing state of affairs in India after such disasters only indicate that, lack of preparedness is the main culprit behind the huge loss of life and property here. And India’s obsolete strategy of disaster management, which is concerned with the post disaster awakening doesn’t seem to be suitable in the 21st century; where people are even competing with the nature to unleash severe disasters.
What do we mean by Disaster Preparedness?
Disaster preparedness refers to measures taken to prepare for and reduce the effects of disasters. India is one of the most disaster-prone country as per the latest UNISDR report. Disaster preparedness is vital in this context to minimise the vulnerability and effective response.
Components of disaster preparedness:
- Disaster mapping: Listing potential emergencies and ranking them in regards to importance and likelihood is essential to knowing what to do and what resources to invest. E.g. map of earthquake based on intensity would help plan building earthquake resilient buildings like in Japan.
- Clear communication: Between the different stakeholders inside and outside the organization. Communication infrastructure should be built in a way to withhold the disaster impact. E.g. DISNIC project with communication network between various stakeholders like NDMA, district administration, home ministry etc.,
- Comprehensive training: for the staff to handle disaster as well as to include community explaining the preparedness, mitigation measures as well as response. This also include building a team with dedicated roles.
- Knowledge of assets: specially the healthcare and communication infrastructure to make the disaster response resilient to disaster impact.
- Technology fail-safes and protocol: maintaining the physical space, access to files and software systems. For e.g. maintenance of health records in cloud.
- Emergency plan and beforehand communication to the community and the relevant stakeholders. Also, the critical information and plans should be effectively communicated in time to avert disaster loss. E.g. clear communication and evacuation in time saved the lives during Odisha cyclone few years back.
- Testing the plan: Lectures and response session, mock drills will help in proper implementation of procedures designed.
- Humanitarian agencies connection: humanitarian agencies are often called upon to deal with immediate response and recovery. To be able to respond effectively, these agencies must have experienced leaders, trained personnel, adequate transport and logistic support, appropriate communications, and guidelines for working in emergencies. E.g. Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, Doctors Without Borders etc.,
The Way Forward
- “Information is power” and it is a catalyst to sustainable development. The role of information and communication in emergency situations and can play important role at different levels based on different needs. More solutions need to be developed to help organizations create and manage response resources and infrastructure between disasters. Further, India should, sensitize the common people about the disaster risks present around their locality, educate them about the steps that have to be taken to save the lives and properties, and motivate them to help the community in relief and rehabilitation programs. This can relieve the army and police forces from disaster relief works to a large extent. Ex: Establishment of Disaster Management Units in every locality, conducting drills, awareness campaigns, and Nukkad Nataks on disaster mitigation, etc.
- Mitigating Public Health Disasters: It is important for implementing the SDGs, including the pathway to Universal Health Coverage and target 3d to “strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.
- J C Pant committee on disaster management highlighted on setting up an institution that deals with the disaster mitigation strategies. Hence, the National Institute of Disaster Management was set up. However, lack of funds and faculties has made NIDM a toothless tiger. So, enough funds and functionaries have to be provided to the institute; and it has to be encouraged to come up with robust vulnerability maps and the Disaster risk atlas of India.
- Further, the prediction mechanism of disaster has to be strengthened by instilling state of the art seismic prediction and weather forecasting paraphernalia. So that, the pre-disaster golden time can be extended for carrying out better evacuation works. Ex: VSAT technology for disaster warning dissemination systems, Area Cyclone Warning Centres embedded with the Artificial intelligence to forecast cyclones, Flood Forecasting Networks with satellite based sensors, etc. Case Studies: Some of the latest innovations that have been implemented in India include Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), “SATARK” (System for Assessing, Tracking and Alerting Disaster Risk Information based on Dynamic Risk Knowledge), etc.
- Long-term measures: Along with this, India should take up some of the long term preventive measures, so that the infrastructure, economy, and the people of India develop resistance and resilience towards the oncoming disasters. Ex: Earthquake resilient constructions, Cyclone resistant shelters, Disaster proof schooling programme, fool proof underground electricity infrastructure, etc.
- Disaster Resilience Challenges can be held periodically, to crowd source the disaster resilience inventions and discoveries.
The goal of emergency preparedness programs is to achieve a satisfactory level of readiness to respond to any emergency situation through programs that strengthen the technical and managerial capacity of governments, organizations, and communities.
As said by Ian Davis “Disaster mitigation… increases the self-reliance of people who are at risk – in other words, it is empowering.” Thus, the prevention and mitigation strategy for disaster not only saves lives and properties to a great extent; but also empowers the people from the grass roots to develop the confidence and courage to fight the risks on their own, rather than relying on the government like passive beneficiaries.
Thus, disaster preparedness is one of the most vital component in disaster management.