অসমীয়া   বাংলা   बोड़ो   डोगरी   ગુજરાતી   ಕನ್ನಡ   كأشُر   कोंकणी   संथाली   মনিপুরি   नेपाली   ଓରିୟା   ਪੰਜਾਬੀ   संस्कृत   தமிழ்  తెలుగు   ردو

Introduction to Disasters in India

Introduction to Disasters in India

What is disaster

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).

Disasters in India

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).

Classification of disasters

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.

  • Natural disaster : Occur as a result of natural physical phenomena either by rapid or slow onset of natural events.
  • Human-made disaster : Are events that occur as a result of human actions and settlements. For instance, pollution, environmental degradation, negligence, etc.

Types of Disaster

Natural Disasters
Nature Cause Type
Geophysical Disasters Geological Disturbance Earthquake, Tsunami, Avalanche, Landslide, Volcano, Mass movement (dry), Rock-fall, Subsidence 
Meteorological or Climatological Disasters Extreme Weather Storm, Heat/Cold Wave, Drought, Forest Fire, Land Fire, Wildfire, Tropical cyclone, Extra-tropical cyclone, Local storm, Climatological, Extreme temperature, Extreme winter condition 
Hydrological Disasters Flooding or movement of water bodies  Flood, General flood, Storm surge / coastal flood, Mass movement (wet), Rock-fall, Landslide, Avalanche, Subsidence
Biological Disasters Micro Organisms Pandemic, Epidemic, Insect infestation, Viral infections disease, Bacterial infectious Disease, Parasitic infectious disease, Fungal infectious disease, Prion infectious disease, Insect infestation, Animal stampede 
Human-made disasters
Industrial Accidents Industrial or Infra Structural Damage or Accidents Chemical Spill, Explosion, Gas leak, Poisoning, Radiation
Communal Accidents/Sabotage 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

Impact of Disaster

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

  • Earth quake results in increased injuries
  • In riots are people might be stabbed/ burned/ shot
  • Floods increase chances for spread of infectious diseases epidemics and skin allergies
  • Non availability of basic resources (food, toilet, clothing, etc.) and unhygienic conditions in relief camps affect the health of the survivors
  • Vulnerable persons, and chronically ill persons and persons with disability deteriorate in health due to non-accessibility and/or non-availability of medicines
  • Survivors experience other physical illnesses like fever, cold, cough, headache, fatigue, body pain.
  • Women have increased urinary tract infections along with other physical complaints mentioned above.
  • Pregnant women can have miscarriage, still births, and other maternity complications.
  • Increased chances of STIs and HIV due to non-availability of contraceptives and sexual violence towards women in relief camps or emergency settings. 

2. Disaster creates a wide range of psychological issues in survivors.

  • Shock, denial, sadness, worry, fear, anger, irritability, poor concentration, and anxiety.
  • Hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness.
  • Maladaptive coping like social withdrawal, place or situation.
  • substance abuse, self-harm, blaming self or God, low self-esteem, negative ideas about others and life.
  • Grief reactions.
  • Flashbacks, nightmares, excessive crying spells, sleep disturbances, appetite issues. 

3. Disasters might affect the routine of the communities.

  • In relief camps privacy and routine of the families get affected.
  • Displacement and migration.
  • Loss of lives in disasters might change the family roles and structures.
  • Widows and/or separated from their spouse need to seek work.
  • Children need to drop out of school to assist the family’s survival.
  • Emergence of single-parent family and orphans.
  • Increase in social evils like corruption, substance abuse, crime, violence and abuse of children and women, human trafficking.
  • Social/family ritual get disrupted resulting in disharmony and change in value systems.
  • Stigmatization leading to discrimination.
  • Disruption of local governance. 

4. The survivors compromise livelihoods subsequent to disaster

  • Financial loss due to damage of property and death or disability of family members, trauma and shock could prevent people continuing with work.
  • Increased chance of unemployment or under employment leading to the family being forced to borrow money and end up in debt traps.
  • Transport facilities disrupted.
  • Environmental degradation subsequent to earth quake and floods might affect livelihoods of farmers and others who rely up on natural resources.

5. Psychosocial impact

  • Shock, denial, sadness, worry, fear, anger, irritability, poor concentration, and anxiety.
  • Hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness.
  • Maladaptive coping like social withdrawal, place or situation.
  • substance abuse, self-harm, blaming self or God, low self-esteem, negative ideas about others and life.
  • Grief reactions.
  • Flashbacks, nightmares, excessive crying spells, sleep disturbances, appetite issues.

Needs of Persons Affected in a Disaster

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).

Phases of Disaster

  • Warning Phase : This is a pre-impact phase. Prompt warnings that are adhered by the individuals or communities reduce the severity of the impact. Adherence to the warnings create a sense of responsibility. Poor adherence results in guilt and self-blame.
  • Impact Phase: Impact happens unexpectedly and the intensity of loss (life and property) influences the psychosocial consequences of the impact. Predominantly reaction observed among individuals/communities in this phaseis confusion. Poorly prepared communities take longer time to rebound.
  • Heroic Phase: During the evacuation or rescue phase both victims as well as care providers experience high activity levels coupled with low productivity. Keeping family units together and adhering to the cultural ties would help in sustaining the individual/ community heroism.
  • Honeymoon Phase: This phase runs from few weeks to several months after disaster. The affected individuals perceive a sense of positivity through sharing rituals. The expressive and instrumental relief (love, care, money, food, etc.) received from varied sources builds a sense of recovery.
  • Inventory Phase : The positivity experienced in the honeymoon phase fades and the individuals or community sense inadequacy of resources to rebuild their lives.
  • Disillusionment Phase: The relief poured in from multiple sources decreases or stops, resulting in physical, psychological, social and economic stressors. The individual/community feels left alone and becomes hostile to others when needs are not matched with there sources.
  • Reconstruction Phase: This phase lasts from months to years where the individuals/community understands the importance of self-sustenance. The individual and community resources facilitate the pathway to reconstruction that generally demands readjustment and integration.

Disaster Management Cycle

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.

Prevention

  • Efforts aim at prevention of the probable occurrence of disasters.
  • Examples : Afforestation (planting of trees), to promote community resilience through healthy coping and by reducing social inequalities (gender, age, caste based discrimination, stigma, poverty, unemployment etc).

Mitigation

  • Mitigation is the process of elimination or reduction of the psychosocial impact.
  • Mitigation process includes integrating and incorporating psychosocial care plans and policies in the community.
  • Examples : Effective resource use, analyses of psycho social hazard, risk, vulnerability, capacity building, developing PSSMHS strategies, awareness, and advocacy. 

Preparedness

  • Involves actions that are planned to reduce the psychosocial stresses and enhance coping and resilience.
  • Efforts aim at increasing the psycho social care preparedness by government, organizations, individuals, local community, and other stakeholders.
  • Examples : Training on psychosocial care preparedness and disaster risk reduction, psychosocial mock drills, table top exercises, psychosocial triage, psychosocial care information directory, and IEC materials for various populations. 

Response/ Rescue (With in 72 hours after a disaster)

  • Steps taken immediately after a calamity to ensure everyone’s safety, life sustenance, Empower health condition and support the affected population.
  • Providing temporary shelter, food, drinking water, other essentials, clearance of carcass (dead bodies), easing access to health care facilities, maintaining sanitation, power. 

Relief (Between 72 hours to 3 months)

  • Relief(Between 72 hours to 3 months).
  • Provision of humanitarian help based on the psycho social needs assessment essentially designed to enable recovery after disaster.
  • Mechanising Psycho social Support and Mental Health Services along with other relief measures.
  • Involvement of different organizations providing relief materials, provision of psychosocial care by care providers and installing systems for rendering a bio-psycho-social care.

Rehabilitation (Between 3 months to 2 years)

  • Measures aiming at increasing resilience, strengthening livelihoods, quality of life and day-to-day activities.
  • Enabling civic utilities, infrastructure building and restoration.
  • Monitoring for psychosocial complications, referrals, and follow-ups.

Reconstruction or rebuilding (2 years to lifetime)

  • Creating sustainable and resilient communities.
  • Rebuilding of individual coping abilities, family structures, livelihood, and environment.
  • Entering pre-disaster phase aiming at DRR.
  • Disaster management cycle continues from Stage1. 

Source : National Disaster Management Authority

Last Modified : 11/21/2023



© C–DAC.All content appearing on the vikaspedia portal is through collaborative effort of vikaspedia and its partners.We encourage you to use and share the content in a respectful and fair manner. Please leave all source links intact and adhere to applicable copyright and intellectual property guidelines and laws.
English to Hindi Transliterate