1. Disasters are of various types caused by natural phenomena as well as compounded by human error. Natural disaster may be of various type such as earthquakes, cyclone, tornado, flood etc. and other events such as drought, crops failure, etc. whereas man made disasters may include radiation accidents, gas leakage accidents bomb explosion, war time rioting, firing etc. Natural Disasters are unlike anything else in human experience. These are largely beyond control of human being resulting quick changes in the lives of the victims. On the other hand, the cost of man made disaster like war is borne by the entire population. The socio-economic consequences of all these disasters have always been highly alarming and devastating.
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2. Many countries of the world are frequently struck by adverse natural calamities. The magnitude and severity of such disasters are be alarming. The loss of life, damage to property and stripping off the resources are common features. However, the topology of natural disasters is multiple, based on meteorological, topographical and geological conditions such as cyclones, floods, earthquake etc. and its effects also vary from country to country.
3. Like many countries of the world, natural disasters are very common in Bangladesh, because of its geographical, atmospheric, environmental and fast changing ecological reasons. Bangladesh may be described as one of the most disaster prone countries of the world. Almost every year she experiences one or the other type of disaster. The most common disasters that generally occur in Bangladesh are floods, cyclone, storm surge, tornado, nor’wester, drought, earthquake etc. Bangladesh is a developing country having one of the lowest per capita income in the world, cannot afford to have a big standing organization with equipment exclusively to meet the requirements of pre, during and post disaster activities.
4. The contribution which the armed forces can make in dealing with such disaster need not be over emphasized. This contribution has usually been made under some form of official arrangement for aid to civil power, as laid down in the standing operating procedures.Experience has shown that military forces are fully effective in counter-disaster role. The flexible organizational structure, capability of sustained operation in all weathers by day and night and well trained management system of the armed forces make them particularly well-suited for effective disaster relief operations. In addition, many of their normal activities parallel to those in public emergency services. Thus armed forces can offer assistance to the victims with invaluable support in engineering, communications, transport, rescue, emergency medical services, field sanitation, water supply and so on.
5. Therefore, whenever Bangladesh faces any natural disaster it becomes imperative for the Armed Forces to respond quickly with its own management, communications and administrative machineries to assist the Civil authorities to provide humanitarian relief to prevent further loss of lives and property. In this paper an attempt will be made to identify the types of different natural disasters and the role of the Armed Forces in handling them, effects of disaster in general those of the new disaster threats and Disaster management system in other countries The study is confined to the natural disasters that commonly occur in Bangladesh and its handling by the armed forces. It is assumed that the definition of disaster, its pattern and nature, the principle causes are well-known to the reader and therefore, not discussed here. The paper is laid out in the following order :
a. Types of disaster; and its Effect on Bangladesh.
b. Nature of Military Assistance and the capabilities of the Armed Forces to combat the Disaster.
c. Existing Disaster Management System in Bangladesh.
d. Contribution of the Armed Forces in Disaster Management- a Historical Review.
e. Disaster Management System in other Countries.
f. Future Role of Armed Forces in Disaster Management.
6. The aim of this paper is to analyse disaster management in general and recommend measures/systems for disaster preparedness and mitigation in Bangladesh by the Armed Forces.
TYPES OF DISASTER, AND ITS EFFECTS ON BANGLADESH.
7. General. Disaster includes such events produced by a variety of natural and manmade destructive agents, including earthquake, volcanic eruption, tropical cyclone, flood, landslide, drought, epidemic, fires and war time bombing attacks. According to Kates (1980) roughly 90 percent of the world’s disaster are due to four hazard types.
a. Floods (40 percent)
b. Tropical Cyclone (20 percent)
c. Drought (15 percent)
d. Earth Quakes (15 percent)
8. Types of Disaster. Except earthquakes (Though the country experienced a mild trauma in 1988) other three hazards are common in Bangladesh. The most common disasters for which the Armed Forces may be employed in aid of civil power are.
a. Natural Disasters.
(2) Tropical cyclone (typhoon).
(8) Storm surge.
b. Man made or Artificial Disasters.
(1) Major Accidents.
(2) Civil Unrest.
(3) Man made floods.
9. The New Disaster Threats. The new disaster threat which has developed since World War-II besides the traditional disaster threat need to be considered and dealt with as a challenge with more effectively . The new disaster threats, may cause endless sufferings win far-ranging effects, and at the same time be difficult to counter. Some of these kinds of disasters are listed below :
a. Social Violence. Social Violence like hijacking, terrorism, communal riots, civil unrest and conflicts with conventional arms affect many nations. The Armed Forces can help the government remove such social violence.
b. Hazardous Material. Hazardous materials or substances can be as new disaster threat. The tragedy of Bhupal in India in 1985 ranks paramount in this category, with its estimated toll of 2500 killed and 100,000 affected in various ways.
c. Atomic and Nuclear Threat. The explosion in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Russia highlighted the extent and severity of this problem. Radio active effects from the disaster area were measured as far way as 1600 miles and more. Even if country was not directly involved in nuclear conflicts or terrorism, it could well suffer severely from the radio active side-effects.
10. General Effects of Disaster. The causes of disaster may be varied, the major effects of disaster tend to be :
a. Loss of Life.
c. Damage to and destruction of property and nationalInfrastructure.
d. Damage to and destruction of subsistence and cash- crops.
e. Disruption of production, life style and essential services.
f. Loss of livelihood.
g. Destabilization of National Economic Development.
h. Sociological and physiological after effects.
j. Political Instability.
k. Crisis related to national security.
11. Effect of Major types of Disaster in Bangladesh. The effect of major types of disasters are given at Annex `A’.
12. Impacts on Macro-Economic Adjustment of govt. The impacts of the natural Disasters on macro-economic adjustment are:
a. Impact on central govt revenue.
b. Impact on availability of Extra-budgetary resources.
c. Impact on central govt development budget.
d. Impact on foreign aid and over all growth.
NATURE OF MILITARY ASSISTANCE AND THE CAPABILITY
OF ARMED FORCES TO COMBAT THE DISASTER.
13. Military Assistance. The nature and extent of military assistance in disaster will depend on the combination of the forces prevailing in the country. Following assistance may be rendered by the Armed Forces to fight disaster.
a. Air, land and sea survey and assessment, specially to ascertain levels of casualties and damage.
b. Reconnaissance in the disaster zone and identification of routes within and leading towards it.
c. Organized and mobile manpower for rescue operation.
d. Well – trained and equipped Engineers.
e. Signal / communication units to provide emergency radio and telephone links.
f. Supply / Logistic units to handle, store and transport goods and people over all types of roads.
g. Emergency / Immediate medical support to the civilian services.
h. Helicopters and aircrafts for reconnaissance and transport duties.
j. Provision, by Naval forces, of transport support in harbour; also electrical power, mechanical engineering, water purification, long distance radio communication, cooking and backing facilities.
14. Capabilities of the Armed Forces to Combat Disaster. The well planned organization and management system of the Armed Forces make them capable to effectively handle, manage and tackle natural calamities and disasters under any serious condition. The members of the Armed Forces are selected personnel, disciplined and are well trained in leadership qualities. They are great organizers of any given task with honesty, sincerity, co-operation, discipline and above all patriotism. They can handle and manage any catastrophe with
15. Armed Forces have specialized training institutions to impart training to their members on various fields. They have expert hands such as doctors, engineers and other professionals to meet the differents need . These experts become extremely necessary to meet any emergency and for conducting relief and rehabilitation work. The role of the Armed Forces in various disaster management fields is briefly narrated below :
a. Rescue Operation. The Armed Forces are quite capable of rescuing water bound people from flood affected areas using different kinds of water transport and also helicopter.
b. Relief and Rehabilitation Work. Members of the Armed Forces with their better mobility can reach at every corner of the country rapidly to start relief and rehabilitation work in disaster and crisis ridden areas.
c. Medical and Sanitation Services. Members of Army Medical Corps immediately start providing all kinds of emergency and general medical services including vaccines and setting up of sanitation facilities through active participation , wherever possible of the affected people.
d. Supply of Pure Drinking Water. The Armed Forces are assigned the task of ensuring the supply of through water bowsers/trailers. Besides, they also assist in sinking tube-well for this purpose.
e. Repair and Maintenance of Communication. Restoration of normal communication becomes a very important task of the Armed Forces in flood affected and cyclone hit areas. They also perform this important task in areas where sabotage or subversive activities are carried out. Members of the Signal Corps undertake this responsibility and urgently rebuild the communication system. The Crops of Engineers of the Armed
Forces undertake emergency repair and reconstruction work of
the roads and bridges damaged by flood, tidal bore and help restore effective and workable communication system.
f. Provision of shelter. Armed Forces also in sometimes participate of construction of shelters in areas severely hit by natural disaster. Mostly this is done through the active participation of the affected people.
g. Transportation of Relief Materials. Armed Forces render great help in transporting relief materials to the affected areas. For this purpose, they quickly use their different kinds of transport vehicles.
h. Loading & Unloading of Food Grain & Relief Materials. Armed forces may be employed for loading and unloading and guarding of food grains and relief materials in sea-port and different river ports.
EXISTING DISASTER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IN BANGLADESH
16. General. Disaster relief and its managements is one of the prime national responsibilities. The Bangladesh Government Bangladesh has outlined the duties and responsibilities of the various Governmental institutions and of different ministries, including the Armed Forces in two Standing Operating Procedures (SOP). These SOPs are :
a. Emergency standing orders for flood.
b. Standing order for cyclone.
17. Based on these two SOPs Armed Forces have formulated their own SOPs – up to unit level. SOP at all level has clearly spelt out the detail tasks with regard to pre, during and post disaster activities. More so, when a disaster is anticipated, selected military units and personnel with vehicles, transport aircrafts, helicopters, naval vessels and other water crafts remain in complete readiness to take part for immediate rescue and relief operations.
18. Existing System. Armed Forces play a pivotal role in complementing Government effort to restore normalcy in disaster affected areas. The system which are followed in disaster management is briefly stated below :
a. Preparedness to Face Calamities. Natural calamities like cyclone and flood are recurring phenomenon Bangladesh but In recent times the intensity and magnitude of these natural calamities have given rise to the need for organizing the whole nation in preventing, fighting and understanding this calamities.
b. Organizations Dealing with Preparedness. Government (govt) of Bangladesh has formed various committees/ bodies/cells at the national level to advise the government as to how to be prepared for facing natural calamities and to execute the Government decision and action programmes to fight the disasters. These committees have specific tasks and mission during a disaster period. The committees/cells are :
(1) National Disaster Prevention – The policy making
(2) National Co-ordination – The co-ordinating
(3) Disaster Management and – The operation
Relief Activities Co-ordination Group.
and Monitoring Cell.
(4) Prime Minister’s Relief Go-down.
19. Armed Forces in Disaster Management. Armed Forces Division (AFD) is the highest Military Organization in Bangladesh. Disaster Management and Relief Activities Co-ordination cell operates at the Prime Minister’s Office with support from Armed Forces Division. The cell functions under the directive of the Honorable Prime Minister. Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division acts as the Chief Co-ordinator of all relief and rehabilitation activities through this cell. All the three services, ie Army, Navy and Air Force are ordered by this Division prior to an anticipated disaster.
20. Co-ordination and Monitoring Cell. In the event of post disaster management, day to day operation coordinated by a cell within the Prime Minister’s office under the Principal Staff Officer (PSO). This is commonly known as “Disaster Management and Relief Activities Coordination and Monitoring Cell”, more widely known as the PSO’s Cell. The functions of the Cell are :
a. Collection and compilation of damage assessments.
b. Assessment of relief requirements.
c. Management of Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and related Storage facilities.
d. Receipt, storage and distribution of locally and foreign donated relief supplies.
e. Coordination of air supply drops.
f. Coordination of transport.
g. Public relations including briefing of the media and donors.
21. In the aftermath of any disaster, the Cell functions round the clock. The tasks that military personnel are to undertake in an emergency period are :
b. Rapid damage assessments (specially logistic support to mixed assessment teams).
c. Search and rescue.
d. First aid/medical treatment.
e. Handling of relief.
f. Logistical support (land, sea and air) for the delivery of relief goods.
g. Placing of relief storage and distribution.
h. Clearance of debris.
j. Emergency repairs.
k. Burial of human bodies and animal carcasses.
l. Setting up/ restoration of Telecommunications.
m. Provision of Temporary shelters.
CONTRIBUTION OF THE ARMED FORCES IN HANDLING
DISASTERS – A HISTORICAL REVIEW
22. Armed Forces of Bangladesh traditionally have an additional role to meet any sort of national emergency. For any severe disaster Armed Forces is called for providing necessary emergency support and assistance. Besides this, on humanitarian ground an organized force feels obliged to participate in alleviating human sufferings. In recent past during the severe disasters military organization worked side by side with Civil Administration. This remarkable contribution of the Armed Forces as explained below has earned the confidence and respect of the people.
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a. Cyclone of 1985 and 1988 and Great Cyclone of 1991. It is well remembered that on 25 May 1985 the ferocious cyclone accompanied by tidal waves devastated Urirchar and badly affected Swandip and Hatia. On 29 November, 1988 another devastating cyclone rolled over Bagerhat, Satkhira, Khulna and Sundarban areas. The cyclone that crossed the Bangladesh coast on 29-30 April 1991 can only be described as a “Great Cyclone”. All these cyclones caused indescribable damage to the lives, livestock, crops and properties of the affected areas. The destruction of property caused by 1991 cyclone alone was estimated to be about $4 billion (US). The cyclone that affected Bangladesh since 1960 are shown at Annex `B’ and the official statistics of 1991 cyclone are shown at Annex`C’.
b. Immediately after the cyclone warning orders were issued by the Govt to all the services Headquarters, to undertake anticipated relief and rescue operations, Armed Forces provided the following support during the cyclone.
(1) The Armed Forces Quickly mobilized troops and moved them to the cyclone affected areas by the Naval vessels, boats, other available Water crafts along with the relief goods, medicine, drinking water etc.
(2) Rescued the affected persons/families.
(3) They helped sinking tube-wells and re-excavated ponds for pure water where necessary.
(4) A good number of small medical team with life saving drug deployed in affected areas to treat the injured persons.
(5) They established radio communication between the affected areas and concerned headquarters.
(6) They prepared temporary shelters.
(7) They rendered assistance in restoring the public services.
(8) Army engineers with the assistance of Roads and Highway and Railway authorities repaired bridges and culverts as well as roads within the shortest possible time.
(9) Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) employed substantial number of its air assets for dropping food into the cyclone affected areas. They also evacuated serious patients to the base hospital.
(10) Bangladesh Navy was mainly deployed in Chittagong and Khulna area. Its sailors had been worked day and night to provide emergency assistance to relief/ reconstruction operations.
23. Flood of 1987 and 1988. The floods of 1987 and 1988, that which inundated about 39.9% and 67% of the land area respectively were also unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh. The entire international community was not sure how Bangladesh will over come this disaster. But by the grace of Almighty, the Govt, could tackle the situation within very short period of time in an organized manner. The military organization earned confidence nationally and internationally. Total 350 camps were established to carry out relief activities. Official estimates of loses and damage by floods in 1987 and 1988 are shown at annex D. and major floods in Bangladesh since 1954 are shown at annex E .
DISASTER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM IN
24. General. Most of the countries of the world are facing disaster in some form or other but the type and magnitude differ from country to country. Each country has a National level disaster plan in which there is provision for military assistance. Organization and the procedure of handling disaster of some of the countries are discussed below :
a. Types of Disaster. Cyclone is a common natural disaster in Australia. The cyclone season extends from November to April. The two major cyclones are TRACY which devastated Darwin on Christmas Day of 1974 and the TRIXIE that devastated western Australia in February 1975. Australia did suffer from floods normally caused by cyclonic rain falls.
b. Organization. The Federal Civil Defence Authority under Department of Defence is the central authority to coordinate relief activities. Each state and community has its own local Counter Disaster Organization. The Defence Forces of Australia have their own role to play in disaster management. They coordinate with all levels of disaster activities i.e. the National Level, the state and community level and the Local level. In the local level the chief Executive officer (CEO) may be the local Chief of the Police.
c. Disaster Planning Group (DGP). Besides, the DGP is to provide policy guidance for the CEO in planning disaster counter measures and during the conduct of disaster relief operations. The DPG consists of representatives from the following :
(2) The local State or Territory Emergency Service Organization.
(3) The major Medical/Hospital facility.
(4) Local government.
(5) The communications/telecommunications authority.
(6) The major non govt welfare Organization.
(7) Others in accordance with any priority local need.
d. The Emergency Committee. The CEO is the chairman of the committee, consists of the leaders of all local organizations, including the Police.
e. Defence Forces. When Defence Force units assist in counter disaster operations, a Defence Force liaison officer is to be attached to the CEO during the period of operations. All matters relating to the allocated Defence Force elements or resources can then be channelled through this officer.
a. The Types of Disasters. Malaysia experiences flood almost every year.17 The major causes for this are constant and heavy rainfall, erosion and siltation of river beds.
b. National Security Council. National Security Council (NSS) It is primarily responsible for disaster management. At the national level it is the NSC that decides on the policy and conducts relief operations. They have the National Disaster plan and a Disaster Organization at all levels to mobilize and coordinate all activities connected with disaster. The plan also includes the participation of the Armed Forces. The use of military in National Disasters is within the scope of the Malaysian Armed Forces. This is one of their defined rolls. The major operational control machineries of the Relief operational plan includes:
(1) National Security Council (NSC).
(2) National Flood Relief Committee (NFRC).
(3) Working committee for supplies.
(4) Working committee for transport and communication.
(5) National Security Council Flood Relief Operation Centre.
(6) Defence Operation Room.
(7) State Flood Relief Coordination Control Centre.
(8) District Flood Relief Coordination Control Centre.
All these committees and centres include all three services of Armed Forces i.e. Army, Navy, and Air forces.
27. Types of Disasters. Typhoons-high winds, storm surges, landslides and floods are the major disasters in Philippines.
28. Organization. The national govt is responsible for disaster operations. The main body in charge of mitigating the impact of natural disaster is the National Disaster coordinating council (NDCC). The secretary of Defence convenes the council with the representatives of govt. the office of the president, the Armed Forces and the phillipine National Red cross (NRC). The role of the philippines Armed Forces is to establish communication links and make this available for disaster operations, to assist in reconstruction of damage rods/ bridges and to assist in providing transportation for relief and evacuation.
29. Analysis. From the above discussions, It may also be observed that in almost every country of the world Armed Forces, form the core of different national disaster management bodies and in any catastrophic, all these bodies work shoulder to shoulder. In the light of their experience following suggestions can be made for Bangladesh for effective National disaster management.
a. Bangladesh may also form a body like one of those countries. In such effort our Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation may be placed under Prime Minister’s Secretariat as a Division. This will enhance the coordination capability of the proposed division to effectively handle the crisis arising out of disaster.
b. In case of Australia they have a National policy making body on disaster management. Their main job is policy formulation for better disaster management and help the Govt. This can be very much practicable in case of Bangladesh. Noted Scientists, intellectuals and people’s representation from all walks of life can formulate better policy for ensuring peoples participation at all levels.
c. As Armed Forces are often called for disaster management, standing cell may be formed in every service so that they can distribute the work in advance, train and motivate the forces under their command to ensure quick response and rapid deployment to the disaster affected areas.
30. Problems being faced during the Management of Disaster. Disaster management is the national responsibility. But to combat the it effectively all social agencies and establishments should work unitedly. Whenever Bangladesh faces any natural disaster the Armed Forces is called to fight the disaster. However, Armed Forces work under many constraints like shortage of officers and other skilled personnel, fixed and rotary wing aircraft, naval vessels, equipment etc. It is also not possible to solve and overcome this problem within short time. Even then these constraints/limitations, Armed Forces shall have to work with dedication and in full cooperation with the civil administration. However, there are some constraints which are forced particularly during day to day operation at the time of actual disaster management. These constraints if not addressed in time many greatly affect the disaster management operation and thereby reduce the capability of the organizations/ agencies including the Armed Forced.
a. Inter Agency/ Departmental Statuesque. Some times over conscious official with regard to his rank, status or title stand in the way of effective cooperation and thereby delays the progress of crisis management.
b. Personal rather than Collective Concern. Individual attitude of thinking may not be the same. But in Case of disaster management which works on group decision imposition of individual decision can delay the attainment of common goal.
c. Absence of Common Forum. In our country, there is not much opportunity to exchange views among parties involved. Meeting common forum generate mutual understanding and strengthen cooperation.
d. Lack of Communication between Two Parties. Lack of proper and effective communication between two parties creates a gap which decreases the effectiveness of co-operation and after creates confusion.
e. Lack of Co-ordination. Sometimes the work of different parties are not well Co-ordinated. Co-ordination is essential for any type of joint venture to avoid mismanagement or disorder. Without proper coordination, any good venture or attempt may turn into an utter failure.
f. Confusion about Jurisdiction of Work. In all situations, the role of each party should be clearly defined. Interference to other party’s role is harmful. It destroys the congenial atmosphere.
g. Lack of Mutual Respect. In most cases officers of civil and military administration suffer from ego-centric complexities. These create rigidity and hinder smooth functioning.
31. Ways to Overcome the Problems. To overcome these problems few suggestions are discussed below :
a. Mutual Respect. All civil agencies and military administration must have respect for each other. In practical field it is often deliberately over-looked. Mutual respect ensures effective co-ordination and success in a given task.
b. Sense of Duties and Responsibilities. Both civil and military administration must be aware about their own duty and responsibility. This is a pre-condition for any successful disaster management.
c. Sense of Team work. Civil and military administrations should jointly work for all nation of people’s sufferings. They are complementary to each other. If anybody considers otherwise, then it will create undesirable situation.
d. Avoid Rumour. Rumour may create misunderstanding between civil and military administrations. Direct communication diminishes the danger of rumour.
e. Proper Communication and Co-ordination. Communication gap between civil and military administrations often crops up during crisis management. Proper and timely communication between each other help achieve the goal.
f. Sense of patriotism. Both civil and military administrations must work together to achieve common goal ie to serve the nation. Deviation from this goal meets with failure.
FUTURE ROLE OF THE ARMED FORCES
IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT
32. RATIONALE. Since disasters such as cyclones, tornadoes, tidal surge, etc. are sudden, severe and overwhelming in nature, an organized and trained institution with the necessary manpower, materials and other logistic supports are required to respond to crises and prevent further human suffering. The Armed Forces being the only institution with all the necessary requirements may fulfill this role. On the basis of this rationale, the following organizations may be set up.The organogram is at annex G.
33. National Disaster Management Council . This would be the highest level decision and policy making body related to natural disaster management in Bangladesh which will be acted upon by National Emergency Response Committee (NERC). The Prime Minister (PM) will be the chair person of this council with following members.
a. Key Ministers of.
(1) Home Affairs.
(2) Relief and Rehabilitation.
(4) Cabinet Affairs.
(5) Foreign Affairs.
b. Chiefs of the Three Services.
c. Principal Staff Officer of AFD.
34. National Emergency Response Committee (NERC). NERC may be consisted of the following members :
a. PSO as Chief coordinator.
b. Secretaries of Following Ministries.
(1) Relief and Rehabilitation.
(2) Home Affairs.
(5) Cabinet Division.
(6) Director General Metrology office (Weather
c. Director General, NGO Affairs Bureau.
(1) To report to the Pri
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