Introduction to Disaster

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 01:43 -- Umar Farooq

What is Disaster

A disaster means disruption of community functions which may be human, economic or environment disorder. Disaster is the result of inappropriate managed risk.

Introduction of Disaster

Trends in the present millennium and the past few decades show a rise in the negative impacts of natural disaster, as well as in imbalance in the ecosystems due to development. Extreme events such as natural disasters are part of nature’s fury or human interventions, and the inability to cope with them negatively impact human life. The frequency of these different types of disasters has increased exponentially and so has the loss of life and property, despite advancements in technology and science.

Following are the current projections 1960 – to date indicative of these trends.

  1. The people affected by these disaster is growing by 8% annually.
  2. Three million people have lost their lives in natural disasters since 1960.
  3. Asia is identified as the most disaster prone area in terms of loss events as well as fatalities. Example is current floods in Pakistan and Jammu Kashmir.
  4. The 1990’s witnessed a phenomenal increase in natural catastrophes
  5. In 2002 the majority of fatalities occurred due to floods or earthquakes, as has been the trend in past years as well.
  6. Maximum economic losses have occurred in developed countries

From above points many lessons can be learned like:

  1. Population is increasing day by day in spite of depleting natural resources
  2. People are moving to urban communities and risk to habitant continues to increase due to high densities in the cities and unplanned growth.
  3. The cost of damage is highest in urban areas and so it is fragile, taxed, and expensive infrastructure makes them more vulnerable to the disruption of services that follow many hazards.
  4. In many third world countries the poorest are amongst the most vulnerable often driven into the most hazardous areas with few resources. The weak economic base of poor countries with high populations renders them more vulnerable, with such devastation causing fiscal deficit that may be equivalent to their national income.
  5. The developing countries have limited resources which lead them to poor institutional framework for preparedness and insufficient financial resources, which can render them more vulnerable to risk
  6. There are many causes of natural disasters but it can be linked to the changing physical environment.  Involvement of humans are the main accountable for floods and high pressure build ups causing typhoons and cyclones. We can conclude that there is a thin line between natural and human induced disaster, as imbalances caused to ecosystems by human interventions have resulted in instances of natural disaster.

Examples of Human Interventions

In crowded areas, a greater percentage of built up and paved areas reduce the ability of natural hydrology and drainage to rejuvenate water aquifers, which results in lowered water table sand subsequent depletion of fresh water sources. As a result communities face drought and lead to famine and death.

The increased sedimentation of rivers or drainage channels due to logging practices, dredging, or debris flow can increase the risk of flooding. Poorly maintained drainage system during torrential rains can result in severs loss due to flash floods.

Air and water pollution are the examples of human intervention leading to changes in the ecological balance that can result in hurricanes, sea surges and coastal flooding.