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Disaster Insurance

  • Excessive dependence on relief and rehabilitation packages creates a regime where there are no incentives for adoption of risk reduction. Insurance is a potentially important mitigation measure in disaster-prone areas as it brings quality in the infrastructure & consciousness and a culture of safety and culture of prevention. 
  • Disaster insurance mostly works under the premise of 'higher the risk higher the premium’, thus creating awareness towards vulnerable areas and motivating people to settle in relatively safe areas.

Following the success of micro-credit for rural development, micro-insurance has started emerging as a tool for ex ante risk management. In fact, micro-credit and micro-insurance support each other. The insurance tool should be made attractive through a set of policy measures and fiscal incentives. Catastrophic Insurance: Examples from Japan - Seismic Hazard Maps have been put to use and have been found appropriate for modelling financial risk, including time-dependent and time-independent rates of earthquake recurrence.

Community Based Disaster Management

Disaster management can be effective only if the communities participate in it. As a community is the repository of knowledge and skills that have evolved traditionally, these need to be integrated into the management strategy. Community is the first line of responders, thus, it is necessary to educate the community and impart skills and assign specific roles regarding disaster management to ensure a coordinated response while disaster. This can be achieved by:

  • Undertaking location specific training programmes for the community: Cascading approach should be used to impart training as the number of people to be imparted skills is very large. Thus this responsibility can be entrusted at the local level, say, to the village panchayats.
  • Disaster management education needs to be integrated within the formal and informal education systems.
  • The leaders and personnel in critical sectors should be given disaster management training.
  • A proper safety plan including all pre-disaster planning to reduce risk should be made to enhance community preparedness.
  • The entire process of damage assessment and distribution of the relief packages can be conducted very smoothly with the active involvement of local community leaders and SHGs.
    (i) The community also plays an important role in the recovery process, including the socio-psychological rehabilitation of the disaster victims. During the recent past, it has been experienced that the capacity building of the community has been very helpful even in situations when isolated instances of drowning, burns etc. take place. With the creation of awareness generation on disaster mitigation and carrying out mock drills from time to time under the close supervision of Disaster Management Committees the community will function as a well-knit unit in case of any emergency.

In recent floods in Chennai, local people helped the army and other forces in locating the routes as roads were all filled and the army was not acquainted with the area as much as locals.

Role of the Media in Disaster Management

The role of the media is very important. They are often not provided with the correct information, resulting in incorrect information which adds to the panic.

Pre-disaster

  • The media can influence the government to prioritize Disaster Risk Issues. For example, it may expose excessive and inefficient expenditure on disaster preparedness in a particular region.
  • It can help disaster mitigation experts create early warning systems. Emergency alerts using TV, radio, and cable services can be very effective across the country.
  • To educate the community in recognising symptoms and reporting them early if found.
  • Ensuring the community's cooperation in risk reduction by forewarning the people about the consequences of their dangerous actions and operations.

During disaster

During the onslaught of the disaster, what is of utmost importance is keeping the morale of the people high, creating self-confidence in them, and preventing panic. The media can help, in many ways in ensuring these conditions.

  • Continuous and factual coverage, particularly by local media, can assist the authorities, voluntary organizations and volunteers in reaching the affected with assistance and relief.
  • Cautioning the affected or to be affected people about the Dos and Don'ts, of scotching rumours and preventing panic and confusion.
  • Identifying the needy spots and focusing attention on them, giving details on impassable roadways and downed utility lines.
  • Communicating the information to the people and the concerned authorities sufficiently in advance to enable them to take the necessary steps to minimize the losses of lives and property.
  • It provides the outside world with a glimpse of what that affected community is dealing with.

Post-disaster

  • Collection of material resources and the enlisting of man-power by appealing to the people to come forward to render help.
  • Helping the affected in establishing contacts with their closed ones
  • Keeping a watch and report on some anti-social elements who try to take advantage of such situations
  • Contributing by countering the damaging, exaggerated and negative reporting and propaganda in the foreign media on the disasters' occurrence.

Negative Effects of Media

  • The media may exaggerate some disaster elements and create unnecessary panic.
  • Inaccurate portrayal of human behaviour during and after a disaster may create a very dramatic and exciting picture but it is only partially truthful.
  • Influential politicians may manipulate the media for personal and political gains.
  • Biased coverage for the purposes of sensationalism by choosing to capture only small incidents of horrific devastations leads to misreporting.
  • Convergence of media representatives on a high-profile event can create tremendous "congestion" in the affected area.
  • Live coverage of critical operations can disrupt the forces' counter-terrorism strategy, as was observed in Mumbai 26/11 attacks.

A prompt presentation of the real state of affairs by our media and the correction of the misrepresentations will go a long way in dispelling the wrong impressions created abroad, which may otherwise have adverse effects on the administration, the economy, and the polity of the country.

Role of Social Media in Disaster Management

  • Social media is different from conventional media in that it allows for one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many communications. It enables communication to take place in real time or asynchronously over time. 
  • It is also device indifferent and can occur via a computer, tablets, and smartphones that are relatively mobile and easy to carry around. It also allows participants to create or comment or on social media networks.

During disasters all the conventional communications generally stop functioning while social media or networking services stay active. Its role as a news source is invaluable with instantaneous information available with power outages shutting down TV stations and landlines. Emergency service agencies are utilising the power of social media and SMS to broadcast and amplify emergency warnings to the public instantly. Critical tasks that social media can implement are:

  • Prepare citizens in areas likely to be affected by a disaster;
  • Broadcast real-time information both for affected areas and interested people;
  • Receive real-time data from affected areas;
  • Mobilize and coordinating immediate relief efforts; and
  • Optimize recovery activities.

During the devastating Hudhud cyclone that struck Visakhapatnam, PWD officials created a WhatsApp group that acted as the main communication tool for sharing information. No meetings and discussions were organised at the district level as the WhatsApp group helped identify and access required resources.
Online social networking services and social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Etc. try to solve many problems during natural disasters by establishing link with closed ones. Concerns such as the threat of technology failure, hackers, stalkers, viruses will have to be addressed in the development of emergency online networks. Also, the spread of rumours can be quick leading to spread of panic. Therefore, social media can not supersede current approaches to disaster management communication or replace existing infrastructure, but if managed strategically, they can be used to bolster current systems.

Retrofitting of Buildings 

Parameters for earthquake-resistant construction have been laid down in Indian Standards Code, 2002. It entails studying a building's design and assessing its construction material by non-destructive radiological tests. The key idea of making a building earthquake-resistant is to make it ductile, i.e., giving it a certain flexibility to shake horizontally. It helps soften the earthquake's impact and lets the building absorb its energy.

  • To make a building earthquake resistant, its base is strengthened in a way that during an earthquake, the building's load is borne by the base alone, and upper stories do not experience much quaking. The part of the base that is above the ground is cut and rested on bearings, exactly like how a jack is used to lift a car to change wheels. The bearings act as shock absorbers, similar to those in cars. Adding rubber material such as used tyres to the foundation of a building under construction can also be done. 
  • For a building under construction, the cost is estimated to increase by about 10% and for retrofitting, it is estimated to be around 15-20% of the structure's total cost.
  • Only two schools were left standing in Grenada after Hurricane Ivan's passage (September 2004). Both had been subject to retrofitting through a World Bank initiative. One of the schools was used to house displaced persons after the event.
  • In India, the Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) has undertaken projects to retrofit life-line structures. The Council has initiated retrofitting of MCD school buildings in Delhi and other Jammu and Kashmir structures.

Climate Change and Disasters

  • There is considerable evidence that economic damage caused by extreme weather events has increased substantially over the last few decades. For a country like India, with over 70 percent of its population relying directly or indirectly on agriculture for their livelihoods, the impact of extreme weather events is critical.

People often live in high ecological vulnerability areas and relatively low levels of resource productivity and have limited and insecure rights over productive natural resources.

  • Changes in the precipitation patterns and any monsoons' intensification will contribute to flood disasters and land degradation. India's water supply depends on monsoon rains and glacial melt water from the Hindu Kush and the Flimalayas. Rising temperatures will cause snowlines to retreat further, increasing the risk of floods during the summer monsoon season.
  • Odisha has experienced floods in 49 of the last 100 years, droughts in 30 and cyclones in 11 years. The occurrence of droughts, floods and cyclones in a single year is not unusual

Disaster Risk Reduction and climate change mitigation and adaptation share common goals, Both aim to reduce the vulnerability of communities and achieve sustainable development. While emphasis of DRR is on prevention, mitigation, preparedness and recovery from geological hazards such as earthquakes, landslides etc. as well as hydro­meteorological disasters such as floods, cyclones, Climate Change Adaptation is mainly linked with hydro­meteorological disasters. It aims to reduce vulnerability due to climate change/variability risk by adapting to gradual changes in climate over a long period.

Poverty and Disasters

  • Poverty and vulnerability to natural hazards are closely linked and mutually reinforcing. Disasters are a source of hardship and distress, potentially temporarily forcing certain groups below the poverty threshold and also contributing to more persistent, chronic poverty.
  • Poverty and risk to disasters are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. The poor section of the society is worst affected in case of disaster. Due to the poor's compulsion to exploit environmental resources for their survival, the risk and exposure of the society to disasters increases. Poverty also compels the poor to migrate and live at physically more vulnerable locations, often on unsafe land and in unsafe shelters.
  • Disasters can also disrupt ongoing poverty reduction activities and force a diversion of related financial resources into relief and rehabilitation efforts. Poverty can be further reinforced by deliberate risk-averting, ex-ante livelihood choices that poorer households may make. For example, poorer households may choose to forego the potential benefits of higher yielding or more profitable crops in favour of more hazard-tolerant ones.
  • The substandard quality and often, dangerous location of housing (e.g., on flood plains, riverbanks or steep slopes); lower levels of access to basic services, particularly for the rural poor and illegal squatters; uncertain ownership rights, reducing incentives to manage resources sustainably or invest in structural mitigation measures; often more vulnerable livelihoods; and limited access to financial resources, constraining their ability to diversify livelihoods and recover post disaster.
  • The poor can also exacerbate their own risk where limited livelihood opportunities force over-exploitation of the local environment. Meanwhile, the covariate nature of natural hazards implies a limited scope for formal and informal community-based support systems in the aftermath of a disaster.

National Disaster Plan for Animals

Disaster Management Plan for Animals aims at protecting animals and preventing and mitigating loss of livestock resources during various disasters.
It is divided into
a) Pre-disaster preparedness,
b) Disaster response and
c) Post- Disaster Plan.

  • Pre-disaster preparedness includes detailed action plan relating to dissemination of early warning, identification of vulnerability amongst livestock, animal vaccination, feed and fodder supply and capacity building of different stake­holders in disaster management etc. 
  • The disaster response component includes strategy/action plan relating to effective and prompt response, rescue of livestock, feed & fodder supply, measures against epidemics and diseases and maintenance of Sanitation etc. Post disaster component includes strategy for treatment of sick animals, disease surveillance, disposal of carcass, restoration and restocking of livestock population.
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