ICT for Disaster Management/Disaster Management

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Disaster Management

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There are no standardized rules defining the different phases of the disaster management cycle. Different agencies use different cycles depending upon their objectives. However, while approaches vary, it is agreed that disaster management activities should be carried out in a cycle. Figure 5 illustrates the phases of the disaster management cycle, which are described as follows:

  • Mitigation: any activity that reduces either the chance of a hazard taking place or a hazard turning into disaster.
  • Risk reduction: anticipatory measures and actions that seek to avoid future risks as a result of a disaster.
  • Prevention: avoiding a disaster even at the eleventh hour.
  • Preparedness: plans or preparations made to save lives or property, and help the response and rescue service operations. This phase covers implementation/operation, early warning systems and capacity building so the population will react appropriately when an early warning is issued.
  • Response: includes actions taken to save lives and prevent property damage, and to preserve the environment during emergencies or disasters. The response phase is the implementation of action plans.
  • Recovery: includes actions that assist a community to return to a sense of normalcy after a disaster.

Figure 5: The Disaster Management Cycle

These six phases usually overlap. ICT is used in all the phases, but the usage is more apparent in some phases than in others.

Why Disaster Management

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Disaster mBold textanagement (also called disaster risk management) is the discipline that involves preparing, warning, supporting and rebuilding societies when natural or man-made disasters occur. It is the continuous process by which all individuals, groups and communities manage hazards in an effort to avoid or minimize the impact of disasters resulting from hazards. Effective disaster management relies on thorough integration of emergency plans at all levels of government and non-government involvement. Activities at each level (individual, group, community) affect the other levels.

Events over the last two years have shown that there is no country that does not stand the threat of a disaster. Countries like China, Indonesia, Iran and Pakistan are prone to earthquakes. Small Islands States in the Pacific region and countries like Maldives are prone to various types of threats from the sea. Bangladesh and parts of China and India experience floods each year. Therefore, disaster preparedness is no longer a choice; it is mandatory irrespective of where one lives.

Disaster Management and the MDGs

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It is somewhat surprising that no Millennium Development Goal1 (MDG) directly addresses the issues related to disaster management. Perhaps it is because it is so obvious that building a safer world is a prerequisite for the achievement of all the eight MDGs. Poverty eradication, freedom from hunger, primary education, freedom from disasters, and building a sustainable world etc. are all key aspects of the disaster management process. It has been shown that any nation should have effective disaster reduction and recovery processes in place to achieve the MDGs by the expected deadline of year 2015.

Figure 1: Illustration of how proper Disaster Reduction and Recovery processes can assist in achieving the MDGs by 2015