Some disasters are unique events — rare, unpredictable acts — for which rational responses are difficult. Others are discrete; they are the results of correctable factors such as a failure of a component, limited design error, or a mistake by an operator.
Understanding the complexity characteristics of any given disaster management catchment, and devising institutional cultures to counter them, is, therefore, a second key to building effective institutions.
There should be a systematic resort to “disaster drills” to educate the public on what to do during an earthquake. Preparedness is the key to managing any more such disasters.
Although a 2005 law on disaster management has been put into effect at the national level, it exists only on paper in a few states and districts. A national disaster response force was also formed for rescue and evacuation.
It is an unfortunate reality in the age of highly hazardous industry that accidents are bound to happen. It is, however, the responsibility of all sectors of society to ensure that we are prepared to cope with the aftermath. Disaster management is like breathing if you don’t, you die.
Disaster Management starts with ‘D’ but begins with ‘YOU’. If we need to change anything, it has to start with our home. As we know that our family may not be together when all of a sudden a disaster strikes, it is important to create a plan in advance. One must find reliable information sources, warning systems, and alert systems in advance. Family communication is one of the most important. We may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with us as we will have no time to search for the supplies we need or shop for them. Disaster can take place anywhere and at any time. It is important to know what to do and have a plan before a disaster strikes. Disaster preparedness measures can significantly reduce the shock of disasters on people’s lives, livelihoods, and assets. It is, therefore, necessary that to survive the disaster, every family must take responsibility for their own disaster preparedness from Home itself. People talk about business continuity plan during a disaster, natural disaster insurance, socio-economic effects of a disaster, the preparedness on the national level, and so on. We all know that it is impossible to avoid disasters, but it isn’t impossible to plan ahead of time so that we can minimise the impact that any given disaster might have on us or on our family’s health, safety, and property. One must remember that the future belongs to those who prepare.
The biggest concern is the attitude of policymakers, implementers and local government towards investing in people-oriented preparedness at different levels. There is a growing need to look at disasters from a development perspective. Disasters can have a devastating effect on communities and can significantly set back development efforts to a great extent. Disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and relief are four elements, which contribute to and gain from the implementation of sustainable development. The need of the hour is to chalk out a multi-pronged strategy for total disaster management comprising prevention, preparedness, response and recovery on the one hand and initiate development efforts aimed towards risk reduction and mitigation on the other cities.
For India, preparedness will have to begin with the updating of construction norms for quake-proofing. Then, inspection of all construction, old and new, must be made a priority to check for adherence. In old buildings, measures to address the vulnerability, such as retro-fitting with steel structures, have to be implemented compulsorily. Lessening the potential damage, as much as responding to a disaster, needs to be part of India’s disaster management strategy.
We need to accept earthquakes as a reality and do everything in our power to redefine development plans, especially in terms of building quake-resistant buildings. There should be a systematic resort to “disaster drills” to educate the public on what to do during an earthquake. Preparedness is the key to managing any more such disasters. There have been many cases where there has been a relief and rescue mobilisation but by the time the teams reach the damage would have already been done. Disasters are episodic but are recurrent. Therefore, it is rightly said that “Those who work the Disaster Management way, live to work another day. Safety is a race we can all win. Preparedness is the only key to the success of Disaster Management Plan and without citizens’ involvement and participation, any effective plan is rendered ineffective.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)