Disaster Management

When a hazard event (such as a drought, flood, cyclone, earthquake or tsunami) occurs, triggering a loss of life and damage to infrastructure, it highlights the reality that society and its assets are vulnerable to such events. When discussing disaster risk management, a disaster can highlight the following in a community:
According to the terminology of UNDRR, disaster risk is defined as “the potential loss of life, injury, or destroyed or damaged assets which could occur to a system, society or a community in a specific period of time, determined probabilistically as a function of hazard, exposure, vulnerability and capacity”. In the technical sense, it is defined through the combination of three terms: hazard, exposure and vulnerability.

Definitions and Terminology

Hazard is defined as “a process, phenomenon or human activity that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation”. Hazards may be single, sequential or combined in their origin and effects. Each hazard is characterized by its “location, intensity or magnitude, frequency, and probability”.
Exposure is defined as “the situation of people, infrastructure, housing, production capacities and other tangible human assets located in hazard-prone areas”. As stated in the UNIDRR glossary, “measures of exposure can include the number of people or types of assets in an area. These can be combined with the specific vulnerability and capacity of the exposed elements to any particular hazard to estimate the quantitative risks associated with that hazard in the area of interest”.
Vulnerability is defined as “the conditions determined by physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes which increase the susceptibility of an individual, a community, assets or systems to the impacts of hazards”. Vulnerability is multi-dimensional in its nature, and next to the four dimensions above, some authors also include cultural and institutional factors. Examples include, but are not limited to; poor design and construction of buildings, inadequate protection of assets, lack of public information and awareness, high levels of poverty and education, limited official recognition of risks and preparedness measures, disregard for wise environmental management or weak institutions, and governance (e.g. including corruption etc.).
Disaster Risk Management is the application of disaster risk reduction policies and strategies, to prevent new disaster risks, reduce existing disaster risks, and manage residual risks, contributing to the strengthening of resilience and reduction of losses. Disaster risk management actions can be categorized into; prospective disaster risk management, corrective disaster risk management and compensatory disaster risk management (also referred to as residual risk management).

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