Universally disaster is deliberated as "a serious disruption to the functioning of a community, which causes human, material, economic and environmental losses beyond a community's ability to cope."– UNDRR.
Government of India reflected the same as "a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or human-made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area."– (Disaster Management Act, 2005).
Disaster is not a new phenomenon. Disasters have been taking place world wide constantly with varied degree of severity. Due to the geo-climatic conditions and socio-economic vulnerability India is highly prone to different types of disasters. India is said to be one of the ten worst disaster-prone countries in the world. 30 different types of disasters, including drought, floods, cyclones, landslides, soil erosions, earthquakes have affected Indian communities (NDMA, 2016).
Disasters can be broadly classified into natural and human-made disasters. The severity of the impact, amount of damage and the nature of support required for the affected people indicate if the emergency is a disaster. For example, an earth quake that happens in a desert cannot be termed a disaster as it occurs in a place where people do not live.
Types of Disaster
|Earthquake, Tsunami, Avalanche, Landslide, Volcano, Mass movement (dry), Rock-fall, Subsidence
|Meteorological or Climatological Disasters
|Storm, Heat/Cold Wave, Drought, Forest Fire, Land Fire, Wildfire, Tropical cyclone, Extra-tropical cyclone, Local storm, Climatological, Extreme temperature, Extreme winter condition
|Flooding or movement of water bodies
|Flood, General flood, Storm surge / coastal flood, Mass movement (wet), Rock-fall, Landslide, Avalanche, Subsidence
|Pandemic, Epidemic, Insect infestation, Viral infections disease, Bacterial infectious Disease, Parasitic infectious disease, Fungal infectious disease, Prion infectious disease, Insect infestation, Animal stampede
|Industrial or Infra Structural Damage or Accidents
|Chemical Spill, Explosion, Gas leak, Poisoning, Radiation
|Impatience of Humans Impacting the safety of other people or destruction of property
|Riots, Terrorist Attacks, Bomb Blasts, Stampede
|Accidents Caused by Human Negligence
|Accident of any transport Modalities
|Air/Train/Road/Water accidents, Fire Accidents, Building collapse
Irrespective of the type of disaster, any section of society can be negatively impactedmore so individuals, family, and community. Negative impact of disaster is grouped into physical, psychological, economic, and social. Impact must be visualized as a domino effect where disaster triggers a primary impact that can lead to a secondary or tertiary impact.
1. Significant physical injury varies from disaster to disaster
2. Disaster creates a wide range of psychological issues in survivors.
3. Disasters might affect the routine of the communities.
4. The survivors compromise livelihoods subsequent to disaster
5. Psychosocial impact
People affected by disaster or people living in disaster-hit communities will have diverse needs.
1. Physical Needs of the disaster-affected communities are basic needs – food, water, clothing, shelter, medicines, and sanitary facilities. These are basic amenities for every individual affected by disasters. Care needs to be taken in being mindful of the physical needs of vulnerable groups (sanitary pads for women, assistive devices for persons with disabilities and life saving medications for chronically ill).
2. Security Needs aim at improving the safety of the individuals, families, and communities. In any disaster, the safety of the individuals affected might get compromised. As mentioned previously, there maybe increased health needs. Attention has to be taken for medical and psycho social first aid, triaging, and ensuring the safety of disaster survivors especially the vulnerable sections whose safety would be largely affected. Increased crimes and other social evils post-disaster would call for prompt action pertaining to the safety needs of disaster survivors.
3. Support Needs are tangible and intangible support services for disaster survivors. The loss incurred post-disaster in terms of lives and property need to be compensated with instrumental (money, food, clothing) and expressive support (love, care, affection) services. For many survivors, the primary and secondary support (family, friends, and neighbors) might get largely disintegrated. The available support needs to be retained and linked with tertiary support (Government, NGOs, other institutions, etc.)which would help in enhancing coping and resilience. Care needs to be taken that the survivors are not separated from their families or from the familiar neighborhoods.
4. Emotional Needs help survivors identify the emotions experienced and communicate their distress in a meaningful way. The community members need to be given opportunity to talk about the emotions they are experiencing as an aftermath of the disaster.
5. Recovery Needs are those that help in coping with the loss and pain triggered by any disaster. The healing process might take time and would be different for each individual. Individual, group, and community level practices (cultural practices, rituals, group activities) help in the healing process.
6. Adaptation Needs are the higher order needs for any disaster survivor. Building psychosocial competencies among disaster survivors would yield post-traumatic growth –adaptation, coping and resilience.
It is important to take care of the primary needs (physical, security, support and emotional) before focusing on the higher order needs (convalescence and adaptation).
Disaster management cycle involves mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery phases. Disasters cannot be prevented completely but the negative consequences of the disaster can be reduced to an extent through coordinated disaster management activities. The emphasis is ‘Building Back Better’ in all the phases of disaster management.
Currently, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) has come in to lime light along with relief and rehabilitation approaches. Disaster causes damage to physical, psychological, and social structures. Disaster Management aims at building back the lives of individuals, families, society, and the environment. Along with rebuilding of physical structures, the psychosocial care provider has the role of building psychosocial structures by strengthening the individual’s coping abilities, support system, adaptation, and resilience.
The disaster management cycle is an ongoing process. Efforts aiming at planning, implementing, and strengthening psychosocial care and mental health services need to be carried out across the disaster management cycle. Psychosocial care planning efforts in the pre-disaster phase accelerate psychosocial care services during and post impact.
Response/ Rescue (With in 72 hours after a disaster)
Relief (Between 72 hours to 3 months)
Rehabilitation (Between 3 months to 2 years)
Reconstruction or rebuilding (2 years to lifetime)
Last Modified : 11/21/2023
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