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Essay on “Disaster Management” Complete Essay, Paragraph, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Disaster Management

The Dec. 2004 tsunami disaster on the south east coast of India has underlined the need for more prompt and efficient disaster management by the administration. Disasters are not welcome events and when they occur, every effort must be made to reduce the impact of such events. What is the role of civil servants in managing and possibly reducing the negative impacts of disasters?

Despite the existence of different organisations for disaster management, disasters are often managed haphazardly. The approach taken to disasters may thus be as expensive (or even more expensive) as the event itself. Officials are caught unprepared, and when the event occurs it usually triggers haphazard reactions, which often result in crisis management. Civil servants need to pay attention to the following aspects of disaster management: prevention; preparedness; relief; rehabilitation; community involvement.

Disaster prevention refers to measures that can be taken to minimize destructive and disruptive effects of hazards and thus lessen the scale of a possible disaster. Awareness of disasters and of people’s vulnerability to such events can reduce the impacts of such events. For this purpose, the civil servants must have an appropriate disaster plan and structure established prior to the anticipated contingency. Each plan must be site or local specific and as such, must be tailored for the concerned administrative unit. For example, for coastal towns a series of building codes may be developed so as to reduce losses in the event of heavy rains and strong winds associated with a cyclone or tsunami waves. Rural towns may have to plan for wild fires, droughts and floods. 

Civil servants can better ensure disaster prevention through proper engineering, spatial planning, municipal management and conflict resolution between organisations and communities. However, this will require anticipation and imagination on their part, and a mere status quo approach will not help them to cope effectively will emergency situations during and after a disaster strikes the people. An efficient communication network will be essential to receive and transmit crucial information.

Preparedness measures such as the maintenance of inventories of resources and the training of personnel to manage disasters are other essential components of managing a disaster. This should be an ongoing, regular function of the civil servants and the departments headed by them. These measures can be described as logistical readiness to deal with disasters and can be enhanced by having response mechanisms and procedures, rehearsals, developing long-term and short-term strategies, public education and building early warning systems.

Risk assessments (identifying those areas and people that may be at risk of a disaster before a disaster occurs) are also essential and may complement development strategies in local areas. The development of “suitable” housing for those living in urban, flood-prone areas cannot be undertaken without a risk assessment for development. Efforts do not, therefore, have to be doubled and the two—development and disaster reduction— can occur simultaneously. The civil servants need to build in disaster management techniques into their development planning activities.

Preparedness can also take the form of ensuring that strategic reserves of food, equipment, water, medicines and other essential material are maintained in case of national or local catastrophes. Supplies will have to be provided to match the specific needs of the affected people. Piles of unwanted clothes and unpalatable food at Nagapattinam could have been avoided if the civil servants in charge of the relief operations had paid attention to this aspect of disaster management.

When a disaster does occur the response and relief have to take place immediately; there can be no delays. Delays will occur if the civil servants and the government departments have no clear plans to manage such events. It is, therefore, important to have contingency plans in place.

To take an example, imagine an area that has been flooded and is also lashed by strong winds. Fear and chaos break out. Members of the public are swamping emergency services with pleas for help and the concerned civil servants, reputation is on the line. If the administrator has a well-managed team of government and local players who are prepared and know where to go and what to do, he will be able to handle the situation promptly and effectively. On the other hand, if the situation is managed as a crisis, then people will rush off in all directions, waste valuable time, and even make serious mistakes as a result of their actions.

It is important that search and rescue plans should be clear. All role players should know their role and function in such activities. Basic needs such as shelter, water, food and medical care also have to be provided and a contingency plan needs to be in place outlining who is responsible for such activities, etc. This is possible only if the civil servants work with foresight and give due attention to the small details of the contingency plan.

Administrative measures are also needed when a disaster occurs. In many ways this is the most difficult period for the victims. Job-producing activities, construction works and public works programmes may be needed to name but a few. The victims cannot be forgotten once the immediate disaster has passed. This requires effort and commitment by the various role players, and efficient coordination by civil servants. They will have to ensure that duplication of efforts is minimized and financial resources appropriately controlled.

In certain cases, the “expand and contract” model of disaster management is best. It envisages local civil servants conducting certain minimal disaster management functions in their routine activities and then “expanding” these when needed. It is important to note that disasters are non-routine events that require non-routine response. Governments cannot rely on normal procedures to implement appropriate responses—they will need to learn special skills, techniques and attitudes in dealing with disasters.

From the foregoing, it is clear that disaster management includes administrative decisions and operational activities that involve prevention, preparedness, response, and rehabilitation at all levels of governance. As such disaster management does not only involve official bodies—Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations also play a vital role.

Community involvement must always be an essential part of the disaster management policy and implementation. Community awareness of disasters can greatly reduce the overall costs of such events. That awareness includes all the people and civil society organizations concerned and not merely the government agencies. Community awareness is therefore a critical element of disaster management and the civil servants must lay special emphasis on this in the areas under their jurisdiction.

In sum, one may say that disaster management is not just an issue of providing money and supplies for the affected people after the disaster. The civil servants need to prepare himself in advance for such situations and deal with them in logical and efficient way. Only then can the work of relief and rehabilitation effectively meet the needs of the affected people.


Word Count:- 1100


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