Disaster Management refers to the coordination and administration of resources and responsibilities to address all aspects of emergencies, including preparedness, response, and recovery, with the aim of minimizing the impact of disasters.
Recent measures taken in disaster management demonstrate a shift in the government’s approach from a reactive to a proactive stance:
- India has showcased a practical approach by launching the global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), which aims to make infrastructure resilient in the face of disasters.
- The Indian Coast Guard, with the assistance of ICG Remote Operating Centres (ROC) and Stations (ROS), NAVTEX warning, and ISN activation, successfully prevented loss of lives and reduced the impact of Cyclone Amphan and Nisarga.
- The India Meteorological Department (IMD) plans to launch a dynamic, impact-based cyclone warning system to minimize economic losses. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is undertaking the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project (NCRMP), which includes the development of a Web-based Dynamic Composite Risk Atlas (Web-DCRA).
- The establishment of dedicated institutions such as the National Fire Service College (NFSC) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Academy emphasizes the importance of controlling situations rather than simply responding to them.
- The NDRF has achieved all benchmarks outlined in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
- The government has prioritized capacity building of local communities, recognizing their role as the first responders in disaster situations.
Recent initiatives by the Government of India in disaster management include:
- Incorporating disaster risk management principles into development projects such as housing for all and smart cities, ensuring they meet appropriate standards and contribute to community resilience.
- Programs like Jan Dhan Yojana and Suraksha Bima Yojana aim to provide risk coverage to various segments, from poor households to small and medium enterprises, multinational corporations, and even nation states.
- Encouraging greater involvement and leadership of women in disaster risk management, considering their disproportionate vulnerability to disasters and unique strengths.
- Global investment in risk mapping, utilizing widely accepted standards and parameters to identify and assess hazards like earthquakes. In India, seismic zones have been mapped to determine high and low-risk areas.
- Leveraging technology to enhance the efficiency of disaster risk management efforts.
- Establishing a network of universities to collaborate on disaster-related issues, recognizing their social responsibilities in addressing these challenges.
- Furthermore, it is crucial to build on local capacity and initiatives as formal institutions alone may not be sufficient to manage disaster risks, particularly in rapidly growing economies.
However, previous measures in disaster management have faced drawbacks, including:
- Fragile institutions and the lack of active and well-operated National Policy on Disaster Management, authorities at different levels, and dedicated funds for response and mitigation.
- Weak compliance with policies, as nodal agencies fail to initiate necessary actions to address critical gaps, highlighting the potential role of community-based organizations and NGOs in supporting disaster-affected victims.
- Systemic inefficiencies that influence the decision-making process, leading to delays, red tape, and challenges in holding officials accountable for financial losses.
- To overcome these challenges, it is essential to adopt innovative systems, techniques, and technologies such as GIS, GPS, GPRS, remote sensing, VOIP, ROIP, scenario analysis, modeling, and early warning systems. Local dialects and a combination of traditional knowledge with technology can also contribute to effective disaster management.
The current approach to disaster management lacks a cohesive system for utilizing valuable information from various organizations. Embracing existing technologies and continuous improvements can provide crucial information products to save lives, protect property, and mitigate environmental impacts at a reduced cost.