Consorted Efforts to Tackle Disasters!

Consorted Efforts to Tackle Disasters!

Consorted Efforts to Tackle Disasters!

Rahul Bhandari, IAS

According to the United Nations, ‘Disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or a society to cope using its own resources’.

The recent forest fires in Australia and Amazon forests killing billions of Animals and extreme losses to the bio-diversity marks unprecedented changes in the geography of the respective regions which will take decades to return to the original position. 21st Century has seen one of the maximum numbers of natural disasters all around the world. A study released by the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) mentions that India suffered economic losses of about $80 billion during the twenty-year period of 1998 to 2017. In fact, India has been ranked among world’s top five countries in absolute economic losses.

India’s geographical location makes it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world making it vulnerable to many natural hazards including cyclones, droughts, floods, earthquakes, forest fires, landslides, avalanches etc. The 2004 Tsunami on the southern coast of India was a landmark incident in the history which led the government and the think tanks to deep dive into the concepts of Disaster management and formulate policies and set a separate budget for such incidences.

The government of India enacted the National Disaster Management Act 2005 to provide for institutional mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of disaster management plans. It ensures a holistic, coordinated and prompt response by various wings of the government for preventing and mitigating effects of disaster.

The disaster management can be analysed through three phases:

Before the Crisis phase which includes preparedness, that is, preventing and mitigating the crisis, and preparing for the actual occurrence. For instance, proper enforcement of zoning regulations, better awareness and public education to reduce the risk of hazards help in reducing the effects of the damage.

During the Crisis phase comprises of Emergency response, that is, evacuation, search and rescue, which is followed by provision of basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, medicines and other necessities essential for bringing the life of the affected community back to normalcy.

The Post Crisis phase consists of recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The 2001 Gujarat earthquake, in addition to killing more than 20,000 people and injuring more than 150,000 others, left hundreds of thousands homeless, and destroyed or damaged more than a million buildings. The 2004 story of Tsunami was no different.

However, the preparedness and seriousness of the concerned authorities towards disaster management can be seen in the consorted efforts in the recent cyclone Fani which hit the Eastern Coast of the country in May 2019.

Early Warning Systems, with the help of latest technology, helped in early evacuation, thus saving millions of lives. Though Kerala floods saw severe destruction, but consorted efforts from National Government, State Governments, Local Authorities, NGOs and common people- everyone participated in the relief and rescue response, which must be recognized and lessons should be learnt from this kind of coordination and collective response.

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