Preventing natural disasters or at least mitigating the effects of the same is the main function of most disaster management units. More often than not, these agencies have a mandate to assume control over all resources of the government in times of disaster and to utilize the same to mitigate the effects of the disaster in question. For example, the Indonesian earthquake registered at least at 9.1 on the Richter scale and caused a tsunami which ended up claiming the lives of over 230000 people. This resulted in various countries beefing up their disaster management systems and ironically this did not mitigate the effects of other natural disasters which had struck the same region shortly thereafter. This necessitates the need to look at some of the positive and negative impacts of disaster management.
The positive impact of disaster management:
- Prevention of loss of life: One of the main focus of most disaster management teams is to prevent any loss of life. Most of the disasters that these teams are mandated to manage are natural disasters and as such, these cannot be prevented. So the sole objective of any disaster management team or rather the main objective is to prevent any loss of life. This is why these teams often focus on communication protocols, means and method to disseminate information to the public within a short space of time. For example, Hawaii which is prone to frequent earthquakes and Tsunamis, have set in place early warning systems, along with a public announcement system including high pitched sirens which indicates that the public needs to move to higher areas immediately.
- Ensure essential supplies: One of the main objectives of any disaster management team is logistics and to ensure that the evacuated members of the public have access to some of the basic facilities like shelter, drinking water, food, warm bedding, medicine, etc. It is important that the team evaluates the condition and undertakes several dry runs to make sure that they are prepared for the disaster and are able to provide the public with the requisite help and relief they need.
- Prevent health outbreaks: Often disaster management teams may have to undertake comprehensive surveillance of the region post-disaster. This is often undertaken to check for survivors as well as the remove and dispose of all dead bodies safely so as to prevent any health outbreaks. It is vital that the public understands the risks of health outbreaks post any disaster and are equipped to deal with the same.
The negative impact of disaster management:
- Loss and damage to property: Disaster management teams are mandated to protect life and their brief does not extend to protecting properties. The reality is that we do not have the know-how to prevent damage to properties and as a result, most of the local infrastructures, including private properties are often destroyed. It would be worthwhile for disaster management teams to have the requisite know-how to help build some of the essential infrastructures including temporary shelters for those left homeless, as a result of the natural disaster.
- Counseling: Disaster management teams provide the necessary help to the public so that they are able to survive the natural disaster and it’s after effects. However, most disaster management teams lack essential counselors to help provide victims with some much-needed counseling, to help them come to terms with their loss. It is important for disaster management teams to have a medical staff at full strength including expert counselors to aid those suffering from post-traumatic effects. By doing so, they should be able to provide the public with the help, and assistance they need.
- Secondary damage: Most disaster teams often do not realize the dangers of secondary disasters that can result from a primary one. The perfect example for the same would be the Japanese earthquake and resultant tsunami in 2011. While disaster teams swung into action and did their best to evacuate most of the public, they paid little attention to the Fukushima Daikin reactors which as a result of the 15 ft Tsunami waves could not cool down effectively. This resulted in a nuclear incident post the Tsunami, and as a result, the government issued an order to immediately evacuate the nearby residences. It would be helpful if disaster teams made a comprehensive analysis of the region and all sensitive buildings, infrastructure before heading over to the area so that they would be better equipped to provide the public with the required protection.
These are some of the positive and negative impacts of disaster management.