Background of Disaster management

A disaster refers to a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence from natural or man-made causes, which is beyond the coping capacity of the affected community. Disaster Management involves a continuous and integrated process of planning, organising, coordinating and implementing measures which are necessary or expedient for:

  • ­Prevention of danger or threat of any disaster.
  • ­Mitigation or reduction of risk of any disaster or its severity or consequences.
  • ­Capacity building including research and knowledge management.
  • ­Preparedness to deal with any disaster.
  • ­Prompt response to any threatening disaster situation or disaster.
  • ­Assessing the severity or magnitude of effects of any disaster.
  • Evacuation, rescue and relief.
  • ­Rehabilitation and reconstruction.

A typical DM continuum comprises six elements; the pre-disaster phase includes prevention, mitigation and preparedness, while the post-disaster phase includes response, rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery.


disaster management continuum

A legal and institutional framework binds all these elements together


The Disaster Management Act of 2005 defines Disaster Management as an integrated process of planning, organizing, coordinating and implementing measures which are necessary for-

  • Prevention of threat of any disaster
  • Reduction of risk of any disaster or its consequences
  • Readiness to deal with any disaster
  • Promptness in dealing with a disaster
  • Assessing the severity of the effects of any disaster
  • Rescue and relief
  • Rehabilitation and Reconstruction


Generally,  disasters  are  of  two  types  –  natural  and  manmade.  Based  on  the  devastation,  these  are  further  classified  into  major/minor  natural  disaster  and  major/minor  manmade  disasters.  Some  of  the  disasters  are  listed  in  Table below.


 Major natural disastersMinor natural disasters
  • Flood
  • Cyclone
  • Drought
  • Earthquake
  • Cold wave
  • Thunderstorms
  • Heat waves
  • Mud slides
  • Storm
Major manmade disaster Minor manmade disaster
  • Setting of fires
  • Epidemic
  • Deforestation
  • Pollution due   to   prawn   cultivation
  • Chemical pollution.
  • Wars
  • Road / train accidents, riots
  • Food poisoning
  • Industrial disaster/ crisis
  • Environmental pollution
  • India is vulnerable, in varying degrees, to a large number of disasters. Around 59% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of moderate to very high intensity.
  • About 12% (over 40 million hectares) of its land is prone to floods and river erosion.
  • Close to 5,700 kms, out of the 7,516 kms long coastline is prone to cyclones and tsunamis.
  • 68% of its cultivable area is vulnerable to droughts; and, the hilly areas are at risk from landslides and avalanches.
  • Moreover, India is also vulnerable to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) emergencies and other man-made disasters.
  • Disaster risks in India are further compounded by increasing vulnerabilities related to changing demographics and socio-economic conditions, unplanned urbanization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation, climate change, geological hazards, epidemics and pandemics.
  • Clearly, all these contribute to a situation where disasters seriously threaten India’s economy, its population and sustainable development.