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Preparedness Of Governments In Natural Disasters Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 5411 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Normal adjustments of the earth is hazardous to human. Internal and external process of the earth causes natural hazard that destroy human life and property. Natural hazards includes earthquakes, volcanoes, flood, drought, solar flare and asteroids impacts. Manmade emergenciess are caused due to human malpractices like bomb blasts, but the victims are always innocent people. The purpose of conducting the study is to analyses the nature of emergenciess happened in every now or then across the globe. The research objectives are documenting the effects of natural and human induced emergenciess in developed and developing countries and the preparedness by government of such countries. A methodology to produce forecasts of possible loss (of human life and property) caused by different emergenciess, in order to establish the cost-benefit of alternatives and ensure successful emergency preparedness policies and adequate economic resource allocation.

McEntire et al.(2003a) had given several interrelated concern in theoretical developments in the field of emergency preparedness like definition of emergency , emergency management ,the variables that should be studied in acedemic research and the actors that should be employed in such studies along with the phases that require priority . so the theoritical aspects must retain:

The findings from prior research in this field , continue to search for a acceptd definition of emergency.

Seek an alternative name for the field of emergency management(like emergencies management, risk management , sustainable hazard management or emergenciesvulnerable management).

Emergency management must also acknowledge all types of hazardsLike natural, technological or civil

Establish a multi casual view about emergencies and complexity associated with it so that large number of variables can be studied

Involvement of each and every factor associated with emergency wheather it is public, private or non profit sector

Maintaining a reliance on the phase of emergencies i.e mitigation, preparedness, response or recovery

Integrate research from each of the contributing discipline like haard and vulnerability analysis, land use planning, planning, training, exercising, community education, grant acquisition, budgeting and sheltering

To reduce the effects of emergenciess, governments of every country incorporating various technologies that has developed now days.These technologies helps in finding places where emergencies can take place and with proper management and planning efforts are made to stop that emergencies before it happen or to reduce the vulnerability of such emergenciess.As this aspect is very closely related to people it require proper planning and effectiveness of government. For achieving the goal of making country emergencies free ;emergencies management has come in the scene. Planning for emergencies provides a mechanism for the functioning of various agencies for the management of natural and technological emergencies (Moin 2007). It provides a policy framework and outline for the action according to the type , nature and complexity of emergency . It develop a mechanism for determining roles and responsibilities of agencies at every level whether it is national, state or local(Moin 2007b). A standard operational procedure (SOP) is stated for all departments involves in emergency preparedness.

Emergencies: Meaning, Nature and Scope

Emergenciess and vulnerabilities includes various types so it is a vast topic of study .not only the whole world but also the universe is the span of area in which any type of emergencies can occur. Researchers and scientist of different fields are focusing on their particular area of study. They spread their knowledge and finding with others time to time to reduce these emergencies to happen. Their study and researches helps would-be victims on time through political and social groups. About emergenciess researchers with their own knowledge, past facts, figures, findings, experiments, surveys, discoveries create a new fact and findings and inform to different parts of world. A necessary knowledge of all emergenciess that happened in the past and their probable causes is essential to develop a theoretical framework of study and finding solutions of the problem under research.

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Emergencies is the group of two words “dis” means Bad and “aster” means Star. The word has roots from astrology which means that when the stars are in a bad position a bad event will happen. According to Encyclopedia Britannica emergencies means a natural and manmade hazard that negatively affects society or environment. According to IFRCRCS on an average every years the world is facing 220 calamities among which 70 are technological emergencies, and in a general survey we see each day 2 or 3 emergencies in “emergency phase”, 15-20 in their recovery phase & almost dozen in progress. “Emergencies are now very common feature of human life &extreme events can happen any time.” (Jeffery 1981)

The definition given by Quarantille in his book (what is emergencies by Quarantille 1984) is varied and detailed and can be inferred as emergencies are social in character.

Another researcher Gilbert defines it as a state of uncertainty. Fritz(1961)interpreted it as a state in which social life get disturbed & become dysfunctional to a greater extent . Here the discussion on the topic arises that whether emergencies studies are art or science as sociologist define emergencies in social, economic, cultural aspects where geophysical scientist & engineers give different perspectives of emergencies

Classification of emergencies:

1) Potential: Emergencies which are ‘Armed’, it is a situation where the hazard is in the position to affect persons, property or environment. This type of hazard requires risk assessment at proper time.

Active: hazard is certain to cause harm, as no intervention is possible before the incident occurs.

3) Mitigated: potential hazard that has been identified, but actions have been taken in order to ensure it does not become an incident. This may not be an absolute guarantee of no risk.

Emergencies on land surface

Earthquake: Sudden disturbances in the plates of earth surfaces is called earthquake.

Lahar: It is a natural emergencies in which volcanic eruption releases vast amount of mud, rock and ash at a rapid pace that destroy entire towns in seconds.

Landslide and mudflows

Landslides caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions when heavy rainfalls causes loose soil or steep terrain to collapse and slide downwards called mudslides. It is mostly found in California.

Sinkholes:A localized depression in the surface topography, usually caused by the collapse of a subterranean structure, such as cave. Large sinkholes that develop suddenly in populated areas can lead to the collapse of buildings and other structures.


Flood: Water bodies overflow due Prolonged rainfall ,rapid melting of snow that causes heavy damage to nearby areas , destructing manmade dams .

2. Liminic eruptions: It is a rare type of natural emergencies in which CO2 suddenly erupts from deep lake water, posing the threat of suffocating wildlife, livestock and humans.

3. Seiche: It is a standing wave in an enclosed or partially enclosed body of water like lakes, reservoirs, bays and seas causes heavy destruction.

4. Tsunami: A tsunami is a wave of water caused by the displacement of a body of water. The word comes from Japanese word meaning harbor and wave. Tsunami can be caused by undersea earthquakes as in the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, or by landslides such as the one which occurred at Lituya Bay, Alaska. Metrotsunami are caused by


1. Blizzard: A severe winter storm condition characterized by low temperature, strong winds, and heavy blowing snow.

2. Drought: An abnormally dry period when there is not enough water to support agricultural, urban or environmentalwater needs.

3. Hailstorm: A hailstorm is a natural emergencies where a thunderstorm produces numerous hailstorms which damage the location in which they fall.hailstorm is devastating to farm fields , ruining crops and damaging equipmaents.

4. Heat wave: A heat wave is a emergencies characterized by heat which is considered extreme and unusual in the area in which it occurs. Heat waves are rare and require specific combinations of weather events to take place, and may include temperature, katabatic winds, or other phenomena. The worst heat wave in recent history was the European heat wave of 2003. There is also the potential for longer term events causing global warming, considered as the opposite to glacial ‘ice age’ events, or through human induced climatic warming.

5. Hurricanes, Typhoons and tropical cyclones:

A cyclonic storm system that forms over the oceans. it is caused evaporated water that comes off of the ocean and becomes a storm. The Coriolis Effect causes the storms to spin, and a hurricane is declared when this spinning mass of storms attains a wind speed of 100km/hr.

6. Ice Age: An ice age is a geologic period, but could also be viewed in the light of catastrophic natural emergencies, since in an ice age, the climate all over the world would change and places which were once considered habitable would then be too cold to permanently inhabit. A side effect of an ice age could possibly be a famine caused by world wide drought.

7. Tornado: A tornado are violent, rotating columns of air which can blow at speeds between 50 and 300 mph, and possibly higher. Tornadoes can occur one at a time, or can occur in large tornado outbreak in other large areas of thunderstorm development. Waterspouts are tornadoes occurring over tropical watersin light rain condition.


1. Wildfire: An uncontrollable fire burning in wild land areas. Common causes include lightening and drought but wildfires may also be started by human negligence or arson. They can be a threat to those in rural areas and also wildlife.

Health and diseases

1. Epidemic: An outbreak of contractible disease that spreads at a rapid rate through a human population. A pandemic is an epidemic whose spread is global. There have been many epidemics throughout history like swine flu.

2. Famine: A social and economic crisis causes widespread malnutrition, starvation, epidemic disease and increased mortality. Although some famines occur & aggravated by natural factors, it can and often is a result of economic or military policy that deprives people of the food that they require to survive.


1. Impact event: An impact event is a natural emergencies in which an extraterrestrial piece of rock or other material collides with the Earth. The exact consequences of a direct Earth impact would vary greatly with size of the colliding object, although in cases of medium to large.

2. Solar flare: A solar flare is a phenomenon where the sun suddenly releases a great amount of solar radiation, much more than normal. It is theorized that these releases of radiation could cause a widespread failure of communications technology across the globe. The exact implications of such a failure are unknown.

Other type of emergencies is unintended & unplanned because of failure to recognize the emergencies on time & plan to rescue.

Research in the field of emergency preparedness is process rather than a outcome (Wisner et al. 2002). Dynes et al.(1978) describe it as a social pathology. The dynamics of research related to emergency preparedness exposes the reality of rehabilitation activities that started after any emergency.

The concept of emergency preparedness emphasizes on creating places which are less vulnerable to natural and technological hazards and that are resilient to any risk (Mileti et al.1990). “Sustainable hazards mitigation consists of 5 elements: environmental quality, quality of life , emergency resilience economic vitality and inter and intra -generational equity(Ronan et al.2006:91)”. For sustainable development of country; the public risk management schemes should work with communities . Risk reduction and mitigation are the core elements of emergency preparedness by governments .

Emergency preparedness is a process of preparation before the occurrence of any emergency (e.g emergency evacuation, quarantine or mass removal of contaminants )(Quarantilli,1980).

Emergency preparedness is aiming to develop preventive methods , management platforms and collision reduction in policies and practices . it can be separated in 4 groups namely

Preparedness(prevention and recovery planning)

Response(action before and during the emergency)

Recovery(action taken after the hazard takes place)

Mitigation(continuous action)(Godschalk,1991:142)

Authorities elected for accomplishing the above task are best positioned to execute the planning process ;activities at individual, group or community level affects each others’ level but the one sided or the government response in emergency preparedness should be very effective as the matter is closely related to the security measures which is the prime responsibility of government. An efficient emergency preparedness relies on officials’ integrity that include honesty, sincerity, punctuality, justice, fairness, truthfulness along with their expertise, systematic knowledge and self control .

Problem statement

Preparedness for emergencies can be tested only in realistic environment where the integration, stamina and restorative powers of large scale system can be checked. The research will tackle two very important problems hampering the reduction of emergencies losses in developing countries:

The lack of economically and rapidly produced inputs for risk (damage) assessment, preventing the cost-benefit implications of emergencies mitigation and prevention measures to be assessed.

The lack of clarity related to the integration of risk assessments into the planning and management process.

This research indirectly explores theme issues in emergency preparedness such as cultural attitude of people about constructions and development, political willingness to conduct project for people’s welfare, dangerous locations of constructions (Quarantelli et al. 1977); as it is Govt responsibility to systematically analyse risk related to the type of hazard, possible time, and a its planning to rescue people from potential emergency.

Physical and social scientist have different answers of these questions sociologist find answers in the form , functions and mutation of social system ;where engineers have a rough , intuitive idea of physical forces like earthquakes ,explosions, crashes that require to cause heavy disruptions in social system. Their advice is often emphasizing on policy formulations whereas social scientist predict the consequences on human being.

Although their methodologies are different to work on emergencies they work with common objectives and try to find solution to the problem and well being of people.Emergencies management like all other sociological and humanities subjects deals with people, their well being, & growth. It focuses on making civil lives secure and safe.

Emergency preparedness is a subject of arts as well as science: So far emergencies is defined mostly by sociologist & economist. Emergencies’ phenomenon is multi aspect and the social & economical conditions of world are changing continuously so parameters of defining emergencies are also changing. As the time changing it is now including other streams also like geophysical engineering, geography, anthropology, sociology, developmental studies, health science, social psychology.

Emergency preparedness and role of governments

National government is expected to take prior action for every possible emergency. There are several reasons to focus on government reactions on emergency preparedness:

Government is responsible for implementing government policies (perry et al.1984)

Government is most trusted body elected by people (Herman 1982)

Transition of power from federal to local government (May , 1985)

The comprehensive plans of emergency preparedness make it easy for all parties to co-operate with the federal , state and local governments.(Cigler , 1987)

Governments has close involvement with hazards , as they control many effective tools to reduce vulnerability to hazards such as land use regulations and building codes enforcement(Prater,2000). Local government has more involvement along with armed forces on the social responsibility of state government. The government’s willingness and capacity to meet new expectation is often lacking. Intergovernmental problems causes failure in implementation of plans (Cigler, 1987). Lack of investment in preparedness and response capabilities become quickly obvious at the time of an emergency (Davis, 2007). The dilemma of credibility and government commitment in deciding the best model to reconstruct infrastructure is one of the most challenging. (Davis 2007).Local government usually pays less attention to issues based on assumption that emergencies occurs rarely. Local government assumes that their responsibility in emergencies relief are limited like providing road repair or crime prevention. The concept of preparedness planning is subsequently lost(ICMA 2003). The government should aware of the principle in any emergency that occurred on the crucial participation of affected communities ,how to provide income generation, rebuild social support networks, activities essential for maintaining cultural identities and reviving and conserving the often protective but vulnerable ecosystem(Johnston et al. 2001)

The major concern is how to involve local people in preparations & management of emergency situations. Each citizen should aware about public safety rights. One major inference that can be drawn from the history of emergencies that natural emergencies are happening from the day earth evolved but man made emergencies are born in 21st century.

Some threats are perpetuated over time and across space creating a emergencies culture replete with unsustainable practices. Other like human induced threat like terrorism are equally complex as they are equally challenging to detect on time, warning & response due to their adaptive nature means if terrorist detected they immediately change their target, location ,method of delivery or scale of attack. In such situation it is very difficult to access all the points of vulnerability even by modern technology.

Research objectives

Enlisting of probable natural and manmade emergenciess by analyze statistics related to emergencies.

To find the root causes of emergenciess and Suggesting & finding new methods, measures & technologies so that root causes can be eliminated or reduced.

To develop a methodology for providing timely and economically feasible inputs for assessing the emergencies that are risky to people and assets.

To establish how to effectively incorporate risk assessment into the process of strategy formulation, with particular emphasis on its contribution to establishing the cost-benefit of mitigation measures.

Obtaining inputs from National Emergencies Management Agency/other national /state institutes.

Risk and vulnerability mapping.

To evaluate the use of GIS as a tool for Data storage and integration interoperability.

Identification of stakeholders & convening meeting of stake holders.

Exploring Technological and managerial methodologies for effective working of emergency preparedness cell to forecast emergencies & rescue people in post emergencies period.

Developing training & information system features to increase people participation during such emergencies.

Finding causes of failure of emergencies management network in some cases.

Inter linkage of developmental programmes with emergency preparedness programmes.

Evolving legal framework for emergencies mitigation.

Coordination with civil society organization, corporates, etc.

Media management plans.

Emergencies are not equally distributed among all locations and social groups or we can easily infer after seeing the history of geographically distributed map of world that countries which are less developing in terms of economy are more threatened by natural emergencies in comparison to developed one. One reason may be that due to advance machinery, science, technology and fund sources natural emergencies are mitigated on proper time. Developed countries in present era are suffering from man made emergencies like terrorism, although developing countries are not away from such emergencies .but in developed countries such emergencies cause heavy to very heavy destruction to property and infrastructure that even shake the whole world in a minute where in developing countries mostly bomb blast are the common method of spreading terrorism which mainly causes loss of human life.

For government, NGO’s and local people some factors related to emergencies safety should be illustrated properly:

Identification of risk or emergencies: every person concern should be aware about the risk associated with the area they exist whether it is residential or workplace. Then the root cause behind the risk. Why that risk can occur any time should be clear to every body associated.

Decision making ability during emergencies: this can be achieved through training and simulation process. All that have threat of emergencies should know what to do when emergencies occur so minimum loss they suffer.

Perception & behavioural linkage: role of fear, emotions, trust, personal responsibility & altruism in risk perception & risk sharing & emergencies response.

Emergence & convergence: role of emergent technologies, organizations, social groups in anticipatory planning for and response to emergencies, role of convergence in response and conditions that support adaptive behaviour during crisis.

Universality & replication: Through localized case studies & after event analyses broader generalization of human response to environmental threats & unexpected events are concluded.

Thesis organisation

The thesis is divided into six chapters:

First Chapter describes the purpose of the study, the main problem to be addressed, the research objectives and the reasoning behind the selection of the case study. In terms of the purpose, the effects of natural and human induced emergenciess in developing and developed countries are documented. It addresses the need to produce forecasts of possible loss attributable to the different hazardous events that could take place, and their use for establishing the cost-benefit of alternatives to ensure successful urban policies and adequate economic resource allocation.

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Second Chapter, a general literature review is presented. The chapter begins with a review of the calls made by the various international organisations dealing with emergencies and issues on the subject of emergencies mitigation planning. The second part of this chapter presents studies conducted in this area and then the scope for improvent for better decision-making process in emergencies-prone areas should include

Third Chapter explains Indian scenerio of emergency preparedness in terms of bye-lawa , policies and strategies. A set of guidelines for early warning sysrtem, mitigation, prevention and preparedness is documented.

Four Chapter is devoted to reviewing current views and methodologies for population and building vulnerability and risk determination for emergenciess.A description of the methodology that will be utilized, as well as a description of the required data inputs The problems is analysed with proper datasets. Emergencies data collected and analysed across the Globe. Method of analysis is presented and approach adopted for emergencies management by government in developing and developed countries is described with risk modelling.The damage data to be used for testing the methodology in the case study will be described.

Fifth Chapter presents 26th July 2005 flood in Mumbai city as a case of emergency preparedness by government of India and emergency preparedness policy is analysed and various relevant regulations are discussed. The stakeholders are identified and both their roles and responsibilities are analysed.

Sixth Chapter has the results of the risk assessment and analyse the implications of these results for the formulation of planning, strategies and policies. The results of the research are presented along with recommendations for further research.

Literature review

Literature review

Various researchers have worked on issues related to emergencies, hazards and risks etc. These issues are interdisciplinary and interdependent .In literature review chapter the objective is to know about their study and results they derived in this field. Efforts of institutions like United Nation and programmes launched in this field are also documented in this chapter.

Samuel prince’s doctoral dissertation in 1920 , in which he invested the response to the 1917 Halifax shipping explosion , has had an enormous impact on emergency research (Scanlon, 1988;Scanlon et al. 2001).

In 1942 the first theoretical research was done by Pitrim Sorokin in “Man and society in calamity”. Sorokin found a promising direction for resolving crisis’ in a calamity situation by developing integral knowledge and values culture into personal and collective action in social organistion (Ford et al. 1996)

Classical notions were contributed by :

Fritz in 1961 (restorative community: a collaborative effort with a mission to build the capacity and sustainability of organisations, initiatives and networks);

Thompson et al. in 1962 (artificial community: accidentally come together for short time); Thompson et al. in 1962 (mass assault: a violent onset or attack on a community by physical means);

Barton in 1969 (unselfish community: deliberate pursuit of the interests or welfare of others or the public interest);

Taylor et al. in 1970 (the utopian community: an ideal community or society);

Parr in 1970 (emergence: the act of emerging a disaster response structure);

Bardo in 1978 (emergent behaviour: communities operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviours as a collective).

Meaning of disaster

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Disaster is the group of two words “dis” means Bad and “aster” means Star. This means disaster caused when stars comes in bad position. Disaster means a natural and manmade hazard that negatively affects society or environment”.

Jeffery 1981 “Disasters are now very common feature of human life & extreme events can happen any time.”

The definition given by Quarantille in his book (what is disaster by Quarantille 1984) is varied and detailed and can be inferred as “disaster are social in character”.

Another researcher Gilbert defines it as a “state of uncertainty”. Fritz (1961) interpreted it as “a state in which social life get disturbed”

Sociologist define disaster in social, economic, cultural aspects whereas geophysical scientist & engineers give different perspectives of disasters

According to Leo Buscaglia “Normal adjustments of earth are hazardous to human. Internal and external process of the earth causes natural hazard that destroy human, wildlife and property. Natural hazards include earthquakes, volcanoes, flood, drought, solar flare and asteroids impacts. On These two big forces, we have very little control over external forces. What really matters is the internal force. How do we respond to them?’

Centre for research on the Epidemiology of Disasters defines a disaster as “a situation or event, which overwhelms local capacity, need arises for national or international assistance; an unforeseen and often sudden event that causes great damage, destruction and human suffering”.

Studies conducted in this area

The United Nations launched a study program to aware people to get prepared against emergencies. The study stated that:

To increase the capacity to mitigate the emergencies of every country, with special attention being given to assisting developing countries in assessing disaster damage potential, and in establishing early warning systems and disaster-resistant structures.

To apply scientific and technology for preparing strategies considering the cultural and economic diversity of the country.

To encourage scientific and engineering endeavor aimed at addressing gaps in knowledge so that loss of life and assets get reduce.

To spread latest and existing technical information related to measures for assessing, predicting and mitigating natural disasters.

Transfer of technology, demonstration of projects, education and training, and to evaluate the effectiveness of those programmes is another important aspect of emergency preparedness.

In 1994 the member countries of the United Nations launched a program for Strategy and action plan for a Safer World, which provided the guidelines for disaster prevention, preparedness and mitigation. The Yokohama strategy emphasizes the following issues:

Human and institutional capacity-building for quick response during disaster

Compilation and sharing of information via networking at regional, national and international level

Risk assessment as well as the monitoring and communication of forecasts should be done at appropriate time

Sub-regional, regional and international cooperation is essential

Efficient mobilization of resources is necessary

United Nation’s initiatives and in the context of the American continent, the Organization of American States (OAS, 1991) has made a report stating:

In the integrated development process projects for emergency preparedness is one of the priorities of governments.

Policies for risk reduction in evaluating investment projects

Expenditure for prevention activities relating to rehabilitation, relocation and reconstruction are increased.

United Nations Disaster Relief Co-coordinator (1991) stressed that, ” To some extent, the task of government of hazard prone countries relates to gathering, processing and presenting data to allow a series of questions to be answered so that decision-makers can formulate successful strategies”.

United Nations definitions (1991) to explain how risk is assessed are provided and a summary is made regarding the disciplines concerned:







Conceptual Flowchart of Risk Assessment

Natural hazard (H) determination includes the estimation of the possibility of occurrence of a potential natural hazard. The disciplines concerned are earth and atmospheric science.

Vulnerability (V) determination involves the estimation of the degree of loss suffered by a set of element at risk , caused because of occurrence of a emergency of a given magnitude and expressed on a scale from 0 (no damage) to 1 (total damage). The disciplines concerned are human geography, construction engineering, etc.

The Elements at risk (E) include the people, infrastructure, public services, other as


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