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Preparedness: The Capacity to Combat Disasters

Preparedness: The Capacity to Combat Disasters

No society in this world is free from disasters. The disasters bring with them series of misfortunes, loss of human lives, physical injuries, damage to infrastructural assets, and severe panic and trauma. And the impact of disasters in varying degree remains at the affected areas for long, sometimes permanently. It is true that we do not have full control over the disasters, but with proper and efficient preparation we can minimize the severity and damage caused by these events. Often it is not in our hands to stop or eliminate the hazard/ risk associated with the disasters, but we must focus on formulating strategy and enacting them to minimize the loss and damage caused by these calamitous events. And that is what we call Disaster Management.

Disaster management is a strategy, planning and process through that the population/ communities can reduce the vulnerability and can manage to cope with the disasters.  Disaster management during the recent years has undergone an operational shift; and the shift has been from a reactive operation to more prevention and mitigation-oriented measures. It has taken a modified shape of Disaster Risk ReductionIt is in fact a continuous and integrated process of planning, organizing, coordinating and implementing the measures for: prevention of threat of a disaster, reduction of risk of severity or consequences of disasters, capacity building, preparedness to deal with disasters, prompt response during the disasters, relief & rescue operations, evacuation and rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Disaster Preparedness is the level of preparation done and kept ready to deal with the disasters and combat them when they strike. When preparedness is good, understandably the resultant loss is less. It involves two-tier preparations: (i) Strengthening the structural measures including the infrastructural measures, safety/ security tools, communication lines, evacuation routes, list of medical emergency numbers, financial resources, etc. (ii) Capacity building, that involves teaching and training, mock drills, evacuation exercises, and so on. The emergency preparedness in short is based on a three-stepped catchphrase: Make a plan – Build a kit – Be informed. Thus, it is very clear that disaster preparedness is based on three vital features: comprehensive planning to combat the misfortune if and when it strikes; readiness with every possible structural and material measure; and developing a strong and effective communication network that enables an uninterrupted information system even at a time when disaster strikes. Preparedness includes measures like emergency plans, development of warning systems, maintenance of inventories and training of personnel.

It is always better to act before than to feel sorry later. In a nutshell it can be said that in order to restrict the damage from disasters to the least, we must develop our preparation system to the fullest. So, let all of us develop the understanding of disasters, the preparedness to minimize the loss and damage, and the capacity and resilience to combat the crisis.


Dr. Amrita Chowdhury