Green Valley Charitable Trust



What is disaster management?

The United Nations defines a disaster as a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society. Disasters involve widespread human, material, economic or environmental impacts, which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources. The Red Cross and Red Crescent societies define disaster management as the organisation and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies, in particular preparedness, response and recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters.

Types of disasters
There is no country that is immune from disaster, though vulnerability to disaster varies. There are four main types of disaster.
Natural disasters: including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcano eruptions that have immediate impacts on human health and secondary impacts causing further death and suffering from (for example) floods, landslides, fires, tsunamis.
Environmental emergencies: including technological or industrial accidents, usually involving the production, use or transportation of hazardous material, and occur where these materials are produced, used or transported, and forest fires caused by humans.
Complex emergencies: involving a break-down of authority, looting and attacks on strategic installations, including conflict situations and war.
Pandemic emergencies: involving a sudden onset of contagious disease that affects health, disrupts services and businesses, brings economic and social costs.

Any disaster can interrupt essential services, such as health care, electricity, water, sewage/garbage removal, transportation and communications. The interruption can seriously affect the health, social and economic networks of local communities and countries. Disasters have a major and long-lasting impact on people long after the immediate effect has been mitigated. Poorly planned relief activities can have a significant negative impact not only on the disaster victims but also on donors and relief agencies. So it is important that physical therapists join established programmes rather than attempting individual efforts. Local, regional, national and international organisations are all involved in mounting a humanitarian response to disasters. Each will have a prepared disaster management plan. These plans cover prevention, preparedness, relief and recovery.

Disaster prevention

These are activities designed to provide permanent protection from disasters. Not all disasters, particularly natural disasters, can be prevented, but the risk of loss of life and injury can be mitigated with good evacuation plans, environmental planning and design standards. In January 2005, 168 Governments adopted a 10-year global plan for natural disaster risk reduction called the Hyogo Framework. It offers guiding principles, priorities for action, and practical means for achieving disaster resilience for vulnerable communities.

Disaster preparedness

These activities are designed to minimise loss of life and damage - for example by removing people and property from a threatened location and by facilitating timely and effective rescue, relief and


. Preparedness is the main way of reducing the impact of disasters. Community-based preparedness and management should be a high priority in physical therapy practice management.

Disaster relief

This is a coordinated multi-agency response to reduce the impact of a disaster and its long-term results. Relief activities include rescue, relocation, providing food and water, preventing disease and disability, repairing vital services such as telecommunications and transport, providing temporary shelter and emergency health care.

Disaster recovery

Once emergency needs have been met and the initial crisis is over, the people affected and the communities that support them are still vulnerable. Recovery activities include rebuilding infrastructure, health care and


. These should blend with development activities, such as building human resources for health and developing policies and practices to avoid similar situations in future.

Disaster management is linked with sustainable development, particularly in relation to vulnerable people such as those with disabilities, elderly people, children and other marginalised groups. Health Volunteers Overseas publications address some of the common misunderstandings about disaster management.

How to distinguishing an emergency and a disaster situation?
An emergency and a disaster are two different situations:
An emergency is a situation in which the community is capable of coping. It is a situation generated by the real or imminent occurrence of an event that requires immediate attention and that requires immediate attention of emergency resources. A disaster is a situation in which the community is incapable of coping. It is a natural or human-caused event which causes intense negative impacts on people, goods, services and/or the environment, exceeding the affected community’s capability to respond; therefore the community seeks the assistance of government and international agencies.
Types of natural and non-natural disasters
1 Natural Disasters

These types of disaster naturally occur in proximity to, and pose a threat to, people, structures or economic assets. They are caused by biological, geological, seismic, hydrologic, or meteorological conditions or processes in the natural environment (e.g., cyclones, earthquakes, tsunami, floods, landslides, and volcanic eruptions).

A) Cyclones, Hurricanes or Typhoons

Cyclones develop when a warm ocean gives rise to hot air, which in turn creates convectional air currents. Cyclones occur when these conventional air currents are being displaced. The term hurricane/typhoon is a regionally specific name for a “tropical cyclone”. In Asia they are called ‘typhoons’; in the Indian and Pacific Oceans they are called ‘cyclones’; and over the North Atlantic and Caribbean Basin, they are called ‘hurricanes’.

B) Earthquakes

An earthquake is a trembling or shaking movement of the earth’s surface, resulting from plate movements along a fault-plane or as a result of volcanic activity. Earthquakes can strike suddenly, violently, and without warning at any time of the day or night. The following terminologies are associated with earthquakes: epicentre, fault, magnitude and seismic waves. For practical purposes, earthquakes are usually defined by their magnitude (or quantitative energy released) which is measured using a logarithm scale of 1 – 10. This logarithm scale is referred to as the Richter scale. The magnitude is determined by analysing seismic data obtained from seismometers. The intensity of an earthquake is measured using the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) Scale, which is determined qualitatively by physical observations of the earthquake’s impact.

C) Tsunami

A tsunami is an ocean wave generated by a submarine earthquake, volcano or landslide. It is also known as a seismic sea wave, and incorrectly as a tidal wave. Storm surges (or Galu Lolo) are waves caused by strong winds1. The largest earthquake event recorded in Samoa was on 26 June 1917, measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale. The event originated in Tonga (approximately 200km south of Apia) and it triggered a tsunami of fourto eight (4-8) metre run-ups in Satupaitea, Savaii. The tsunami arrived less than ten (10) minutes from its point of origin, meaning it travelled at Tsunami was known in Samoa as a Galu Afi but the national Disaster AdvisoryCommittee (DAC) has now adopted SU-NAMI as its Samoan translation. a speed of more than 1,000km/hr. Hence, when an earthquake occurs, you must heed the tsunami warning, for example, people living in low-lying coastal areas must relocate to higher and safer grounds immediately.

D) Floods

This phenomenon occurs when water covers previously dry areas, i.e.,when large amounts of water flow from a source such as a river or a broken pipe onto a previously dry area, or when water overflows banks or barriers. Floods can be environmentally important to local ecosystems. For example, some river floods bring nutrients to soil such as in Egypt where the annual flooding of the Nile River carries nutrients to otherwise dry land. Floods can also have an economic and emotional impact on people, particularly if their property is directly affected. Having a better understanding of what causes flooding can help people to be better prepared and to perhaps minimize or prevent flood damage.

E) Landslides

The term landslide refers to the downward movement of masses of rock and soil. Landslides are caused by one or a combination of the following factors: change in slope gradient, increasing the load the land must bear, shocks and vibrations, change in water content, ground water movement, frost action, weathering of shocks, removal or, or changing the type of vegetation covering slopes. Landslide hazard areas occur where the land has certain characteristics which contribute to the risk of the downhill movement of material.

These characteristics include:
i) A slope greater than 15 percent. ii) Landslide activity or movement occurred during the last 10,000 years. iii) Stream or wave activity which has caused erosion, undercut a bank or cut into a bank to cause the surrounding land to be unstable. iv) The presence or potential for snow avalanches. v) The presence of an alluvial fan which indicates vulnerability to the flow of debris or sediments. vi) The presence of impermeable soils, such as silt or clay, which are mixed with granular soils such as sand and gravel.

Landslides can also be triggered by other natural hazards such as rains, floods, earthquakes, as well as human-made causes, such as grading, terrain cutting and filling, excessive development, etc. Because the factors affecting landslides can be geophysical or human-made, they can occur in developed areas, undeveloped areas, or any area where the terrain has been altered for roads, houses, utilities, buildings, etc.

2 Human-Made Disasters

These are disasters or emergency situations of which the principal, direct causes are identifiable human actions, deliberate or otherwise. Apart from “technological disasters” this mainly involves situations in which civilian populations suffer casualties, losses of property, basic services and means of livelihood as a result of war, civil strife or other conflicts, or policy implementation. In many cases, people are forced to leave their homes, giving rise to congregations of refugees or externally and/or internally displaced persons as a result of civil strife, an airplane crash, a major fire, oil spill, epidemic, terrorism, etc.

Physical and Socio-economic
Impacts of Disasters

Disasters are no respecter of persons and the trail of destruction that they leave behind is a common occurrence. Their effect or impact, is usually felt across all sectors in society, at the community or individual level, which has led to push for the more multi-sectoral approach to prepare and respond to disasters! The impact of a disaster may either be a direct or indirect one, its effect trickling into most homes and families in the community. The more obvious physical impact leads to the socioeconomic and emotional impact felt by the community. The intensity of the impact of any disaster is dependent on the preparedness level of the community or nation. Factors that increase the intensity of the effect of a disaster are poverty, environmental degradation, population growth, and lack of information and awareness about the hazards that exist in the area, and the potential risk they pose to the community at large.

Physical Impacts

The physical impacts of a disaster are the deaths and injuries, and the damage to property and the built environment. The built environment can be classified as infrastructure and service sectors such as electricity, water etc. The amount of deaths can lead to a reduction in the population, and thus the workforce, which will in turn have an impact on the socio economic sector of the community. It should be noted here that the amount of physical damage caused by a hazard can affect the speed at which the response to the area can occur. If roads are cut off, this means alternative means need to be looked at to bring relief in to the disaster zone.

Social Impacts

There are overall financial impacts on the household and individuals that adversely impact on people’s welfare for example dwellings, homes, property, and other assets can be damaged, sentimental value of assets can be lost forever which imply investment loss and reduction in the quality of life for the communities affected. It is understood by everyone that a community is referred to as the people who live in it. Out of the varieties of impacts, economic impacts are one of the major areas that need attention from the moment of any disaster. Just like food and shelter, education also needs to be included in the list of areas that contribute to the economic impacts.

Women and Children

Most research done on disasters has come up with the conclusion that those who are most vulnerable are the women and children. As it is human nature, living conditions and responsibilities of women subject many to risk before, during, and after disasters. Women also exercise formal and informal leadership roles and are central actors in family preparation for, and recovery from, disaster.

Children who lose their caregivers during disasters get psychologically affected as they get more exposed to violence, especially gender based violence. Mostly this leads older children to wind up their education and get into the labour force to support the younger. Children are also vulnerable to:

Inhaled chemicals as they breathe more times than adults; Agents that act on or through the skin because their skin is thinner and they have a larger surface-to-mass ratio than adults; They do not have the cognitive ability to understand how to flee from danger or to follow directions from others; and The effects of agents that produce vomiting or diarrhea because they have less fluid reserve than adults, increasing the risk of rapid dehydration.

Home - About Us - Contactus - Day Care - Rehabilitation Center

Disaster Management - Coimbatore - India

Copyright © 2023 All rights reserved. - Web Design - hosted & promoted by Nissi Infotech