Disaster Management: Definition, Phases & Characteristics.
Disaster management is strategy that every nation or community needs to prevent losses and grief. As you are aware this year, 2020 has been through several disasters putting our management systems to tests.
Well, some are common, some are new, on-going like the famous coronavirus (COVID-19) while others are no longer occurring. You remember the Australian bush fires right? How about the Philippines Taal volcanic eruption, Indonesian floods and others?
Therefore, what is a disaster?
It is basically a phenomenon that seriously distracts our normal activities, an occurrence of imminent threats of widespread severe injury, loss of life or property resulting from a natural or human cause; generally is an accident of a very large scale.
Management, in this case, is the coordination of people, resources in an enterprise to achieve desired goals especially in disaster management and response.
Therefore, disaster management refers to the range of activities designed to maintain control of a disaster and emergency in emergency situation. Moreover, it entails organisation analysis, planning, decision making and assignment of available resources to prevent the effect of a disaster. This therefore, facilitates quick recovery from the effects of a disaster.
Objectives and Response of Disasters
However, from the above definition, we can theoretically observe that management is concerned on coordination.
Now, for disaster management to function effectively and efficiently, it has to attend to the following objectives:
- Reduce or avoid human, physical, economic, environmental losses we are suffering from.
- To reduce personal suffering as well.
- Facilitate speedy recovery from the effects of a disaster.
- To provide protection to victims whose lives or property is at risk. Normally, the protection comes from the government, relief or NGO.
- Disaster management also has to facilitate analysis of current situation of the population affected and areas endangered. In addition, making recommendations for future interventions.
- Assess the effects of disaster on child care, hygiene and sanitation, education and shelter, food production and food security.
- Minimize disaster and their impacts by tackling the root causes like preventing natural or human-induced effects that lead to disaster.
- Early planning and warning.
Scope of Disaster Management
- Pre-disaster planning.
- Emergency planning.
- Post-disaster planning.
The Phases of A Disaster
These generally involve the time period. Among the standard classification we use (in disaster management) are:
- Pre-disaster period.
- The Warning Phase.
- Emergency Phase.
- The rehabilitation phase.
- The recovery phase
- The reconstruction phase.
a.) Pre-disaster Period.
Generally, this involves activities subdivided into disaster prevention mitigation and preparedness.
Disaster prevention is even focused where the objectives is to prevent the disaster from occurring at all.
On the other hand, disaster mitigation accepts the fact that there are some natural events that may occur but they are to prevent or lessen the impact. How? By improving your community’s ability to observe the little or destructive effects.
More so, disaster preparedness assumes the disaster will occur. So, we focus on structuring response and laying a framework for recovery.
b.) The warning phase.
Actually, this is when we deliver an early signal or warning to a community of an impending disaster.
c.) Emergency response activities.
These are carried out during the actual emergencies. It may involve evacuation of the communities at risk, emergency assistance during the disaster and actions taken.
In addition, when the community is organised, infrastructure and basic services are not fully functioning.
In short, the period is usually short-lived.
d.) The rehabilitation phase
In this disaster management phase, the people and community system try to reestablish semblance of normally.
It is however, characterized by activities such as:
- Business reopening
- Farmers reclaiming their land.
- Reassumption of basic infrastructure like water sanitation systems.
e.) The reconstruction phase.
It is commonly marked by large scale effort to replace damaged buildings, revitalize, economise, restore agricultural systems and their full pre-disaster production capacity.
f.) The recovery phase.
The post-disaster recovery is subdivided into two phases;
- At the end of emergency phase.
- The reconstruction phase.
Here, these two offer services and facilities that you should have had when you were before the disaster.
What are the Main (Disaster Management) Elements?
Briefly, this refers to distinctive sets of activities or components that are basic concern to people working in disastrous situations. These elements include:-
- Risk Management
- Loss Management
- The Control of Events
- Impact Reduction
- Equity of Assistance
- Disaster Management and Development Planning
- Monitoring and Evaluation
Characteristics of Disasters
The following characteristics help us understand the meaning of disaster:
Intensity– This is concerned with the magnitude of disaster. Some are very big and powerful. For example, earthquakes, while volcanoes are slow and powerful.
Frequency– It is concerned with how frequent a disaster occurs. It can either be yearly, monthly, seasonally.
Extent– is the amount a disaster causes whereby, some disasters like floods for tropical storms can harm a whole country or a specific state.
Time Frame– simply, how long a disaster lasts. For example, effects of floods are short-lived while others like bomb blasts last for a very long time.
Manageability– Some disasters are manageable and controllable while others disaster management may not control. Fortunately, we can reduce their effects through application of scientific knowledge.
Types– We can describe diseases as natural or man-made. Examples of natural disasters include landslides, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tropical storms like tsunamis.
Meanwhile, man-made disasters include fires, drought, pollution, bomb blasts.
Age– Disasters are ancient but our modern developments increase their numbers and effects.
Series of events– A disaster taking place may be followed by other events. We can hereby talk of lightning, landslides or earthquakes follow volcanoes.
Each of these characteristics actually, may mean different things. Thinking of a cyclone, intensity relates the wind speed while in earthquakes, it relates to the numbers and strength of tremors.
However, the broad characteristics of disasters include them being dramatic, sudden and unscheduled events. These are then accompanied by losses of life and cause suffering to the society as well as a breakdown of prevailing lifestyles and systems.