Updated on 15 Nov 2021, 9:13 am
Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)
Disaster is a sudden, calamitous and unfortunate event that brings with it great damage, loss, destruction and devastation to human life as well as property and also hampers the ongoing developmental projects in a particular area being affected by the disaster. A disaster has been defined in many ways: WHO has defined it as any sudden occurrence of events that cause damage, ecological disruption, loss of human life, deterioration of health and health services, on a scale sufficient to warrant an extraordinary response from outside the affected community or area. Disaster management is very important to survive in the case of a natural or a major man-made disaster and can be defined as the organisation aspects of emergencies, in particular, preparedness, response and recovery in order to lessen the impact of a sudden disaster. The damage caused by disasters is immeasurable and varies with the geographical location, climate and the type of the earth surface/ degree of vulnerability. At times there can be disasters where there is no loss of human life and at times these can also cause a huge loss of life and property. This influences the mental, socio-economic, political and cultural state of the affected area. A disaster can be caused by human activities or due to some natural changes. Disasters are events that are unpredictable most of the time. It is important for any government, state or community to manage disasters by being prepared for it in advance. The government provides legislation, allocates resources and does rational planning and sustainable development. Disaster management and planning is a key part of government work and an issue to be taken up seriously by the concerned authorities.
As said, disaster is an event of sudden calamity, causing disruption in normal routing and causing a lot of destruction depending upon the intensity of the disaster. The effects of disasters in the concerned areas are: it completely disrupts the normal day to day life; causes a lot of loss in terms of life and property; leads to a loss of agriculture, animal life as well; hampers developmental projects in an adverse manner; causes destruction to the state of art and infrastructure; negatively influences the emergency systems; normal needs and processes like flood, shelter, health etc. are affected and deteriorate depending on the intensity and severity of the disaster. Disasters are inevitable; there is no country that is immune from disaster, though vulnerability to disaster varies. Disasters are of two types—Natural and man-made disasters. Based on the devastation caused and intensity, it may be major/ minor disasters. Natural disasters are generally unpredictable and the destruction caused by these depends upon the intensity of disasters. These disasters include floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions that can have immediate impacts on human health as well as secondary impacts causing further death and suffering from floods causing landslides, earthquakes resulting in fires, tsunami causing widespread flooding and typhoons sinking ferries. Majorly the cause of these disasters is the change in climate as well as the movement inside the earth like moving tectonic plates or lava. The events of the high-intensity earthquake, floods, cyclone, flash floods, some major landslides and event of drought are said to be major natural disasters. These disasters generally cause a high loss of life and property and also lead to displacement of a lot of people from their shelters. On the other hand, cold waves, heavy rains causing disruption in normal life, heat waves, thunderstorms, mudslides, some minor landslides and low intensity earthquakes can be a few cases of minor natural disasters. Disasters taking place due to human activities and human negligence and can lead to a lot of destruction in terms of life and properties are man-made disasters. Events of forest fires, wars, nuclear attack, major fires, industrial accidents as well as the event of building collapsing or accidents at construction sites causing a lot of loss and damage are the major man-made disasters. Events of train or road accidents, minor household fire, food poisoning, minor industrial accidents, looting, terrorist attacks or of a fire at shops etc. resulting mostly out of personal negligence are termed as minor man-made accidents/ disasters. These do not lead to a high loss of life though the loss of property may be evident in such cases
Disaster preparedness or management activities are aimed to minimise loss of life and damage in the event of a disaster. Disaster management forces can help by removing people and property from a threatened location and by facilitating timely and effective rescue, relief and rehabilitation at the place of disaster. Preparedness is the only way of reducing the impact of disasters as most of the disasters are unpredictable and even if predicted, there is not much time to act. Community-based preparedness and management should be a high priority in physical therapy practice management. Also, it should be the main agenda of the government to appoint a proper department dealing with disaster management and preparedness. The local authorities should be empowered to act as soon as possible in the event of a disaster. It may take time to get relief and rescue operations to start so in the meantime, it is the role of local civic bodies’ disaster management team to provide rescue work as soon as disaster strikes then relief and rehabilitation should follow. Disasters are events that have a huge impact on humans and the environment. Disasters are inevitable; we cannot do anything to prevent these but disaster preparedness is only in our hands. Disaster management requires government intervention and proper planning as well as funding. It is not necessary that these disasters are always unpredictable. Disasters are inevitable although we do not always know when and where they will happen. But their worst effect can be partially or completely prevented by preparation, early warning and swift, decisive responses. Disaster management aims to reduce the occurrence of disasters and to reduce the impact of those that cannot be prevented. Disaster management forces come into action as soon as a disaster strikes and help out in the relief, rescue and rehabilitation process. Disasters can happen at anytime and anyplace: their human and financial consequences are hard to predict so preparedness is the only solution.
(The views expressed are personal)
Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh
Faculty, JCRE Global College, Imphal, Manipur. The writer can be reached at email@example.com