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What is Disaster?

A disaster is defined as a sudden, destructive occurrence that disrupts a community's or society's functioning and causes human, environmental damage, economic and material losses. It is greater than the community's or society's capacity to cope with using its resources. While often caused by nature, disasters may have human causes. In today's academia, disasters are viewed as the result of ineffective risk management. These challenges are the result of a confluence of hazards and vulnerabilities. Hazards that occur in low-vulnerability areas will never become disasters, as they do in uninhabited regions.


Across all of history, natural disasters and military conflict have already marked human life and triggered peaks in mortality and morbidity.

Types of Disasters

There are mainly two types of disaster:

  1. Natural Disaster
  2. Man-made Disaster

Natural Disaster

A natural disaster is a natural process or occurrence that can lead to property harm, injury or other health effects, loss of livelihoods, loss of life, environmental damage, and economic disruption. These types of disasters are as follows:

  • Earthquakes
  • Floods
  • Drought
  • Wildfires
  • Cyclone
  • Tornadoes and Severe Storms

According to the International Federation of Red Cross, natural physical events are caused either by fast or slow accidents that directly impact human health and cause more death and misery. The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction characterizes natural disasters in terms of magnitude or severity, onset speed, length, and area of magnitude. For example, earthquakes are a short time of duration and typically affect relatively small regions, while droughts are slow to grow and fade and often affect large areas.

Man-Made Disaster

Technological or human faults cause Man-made disasters. Man-made disasters include stamping, oil spills, burning, industrial accidents, nuclear explosions/radiation, and transport incidents. Battle and deliberate attacks can also be included in this group. As with natural threats, man-made hazards are occurrences that have not existed, such as terrorism. Man-made disasters are examples of particular situations in which man-made threats have become a fact in an event.

Complex Emergencies

Some disasters are caused by a combination of natural and man-made disasters, including a robbery, breakdown of authority, and attacks on strategic facilities, like conflict situations and war. There are various complex emergencies given below:

  • Epidemics
  • Displaced Populations
  • Food Insecurity
  • Armed Conflicts
  • Extensive Violence
  • Displacement of populations

Pandemic Emergencies

The pandemic is an infectious disease outbreak that has spread to a wide area that can impact the human or animal population and affect health and interrupt services, resulting in economic and social costs. It may be an unexpected rise in the number of infectious diseases that already occur in a particular region or population. It may also apply to the emergence of many cases of an infectious disease in an area or population that is usually disease-free. Pandemic emergencies can arise as a result of natural or man-made disasters. Some Pandemic emergencies are as follows:

  • Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19)
  • Malaria
  • Dengue fever
  • Zika
  • Yellow Fever
  • Avian Flu

Disaster Prevention

Disaster prevention is the full prevention of adverse impacts of hazards. The prevention of associated disasters reflects the idea and purpose of fully preventing future adverse effects by steps taken in advance. The complete prevention of losses is often not possible, and the task is transformed into that of reduction. For this reason, the words prevention and mitigation are often used interchangeably in casual usage.

Disaster Response or Relief

There is no clear distinction between this response and relief and the subsequent recovery stage, which focuses mainly on immediate and short-term requirements. Some response steps, including emergency shelter and water sources, will last long into the recovery stage. The main objectives of disaster management and relief are the rescue from immediate danger and reconstructing the survivor's physical and emotional condition. It also helps to recover primary resources like water and electricity.

A coordinated multi-agency response at this level of disaster management is crucial to reduce the effects of a disaster and its long-term outcomes of recovery activities. Some of the recovery activities are as follows:

  • Provision Food and Water
  • Repairing Vital Services, for example, Transport and Telecommunications
  • Provision Temporary Shelter
  • Disease prevention and Disability
  • Provision Emergency Health Care
  • Rescue
  • Relocation

Disaster Recovery

The vulnerability of communities also persists for a long time after the initial crisis has ended. Disaster recovery refers to services that go beyond providing emergency help to those who've endured the full effects of a disaster and include the following activities:

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Care
  • Rebuilding Infrastructure, like, Homes, Roads, Schools, and Hospitals.
  • Development Activities, like, building human resources for health.
  • Policies and practices for future development to prevent or minimize similar situations

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