And disaster management broadly encompasses the management (i.e of prevention, relief, rebuilding etc.) before, during and after a disaster, either man-made or natural. Of the two, natural disasters are generally more devastating and reoccurring.
The scale of damage from any natural disaster can never really be measured because of the long-term ecological and psychological effects. For example, post-flood effects include the spread of diseases, such as cholera, malaria, and leptospirosis (swamp fever), and may impact flood-hit communities for years to come.
Weather-related disasters are being affected by climate change that is caused by humans. The devastation is worsened by the collective failure of governments and businesses to invest in building resilience despite all the evidence on runaway climate change.
India for instance faces numerous such perils and needs to be better prepared. In 2017, Swiss Re (Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd) counted 183 natural catastrophes and 118 man-made disasters across the globe.
India alone is projected to have seven megacities—defined by a population of more than 10 million—by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum. The confluence of climate change, natural disasters, and human density could lead to more Kerala-like disasters. The task before the government is, therefore, to move from a reactive stance to a proactive one, by preparing for such natural disasters ahead of their occurrence.
People need to understand that disaster management approaches require administrative support and medical intervention, apart from psychosocial intervention. Also, improvement in government policy frameworks to better manage risk and mitigate economic and social costs is the foremost necessity. Governments also have to frame good macroeconomic policies before and after disaster shocks.
India is the 10th most disaster-prone country in the world with 27 out of 29 States and all of the seven Union Territories being most vulnerable. About 60% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various intensities, over 40 million hectares is prone to floods, about 8% of the total area is prone to cyclones, and 68% of the area is susceptible to drought.
A Guest Editorial