Millions of people are affected by disasters each year. Effective disaster management is essential to reduce suffering and support those affected. Here are 10 reasons why disaster management is important.
1. Saves Lives
During disasters, a crisis is an acute event that is fast moving and changing. Therefore, effective emergency planning and response is vital. A lack of coordination and response to disasters can have serious and long-lasting impacts on a community and can also lead to more deaths. Disaster management can help to enhance the ability of emergency responders to save lives. When appropriate infrastructure is set up and training is completed to improve disaster response, communities can survive the stress and distress caused by disasters.
2. Improves Community Resilience
When disaster strikes, response teams have the unenviable task of trying to help people in extreme conditions. The task can be extremely tough as an unprepared and untrained response team will have limited knowledge of the people they are working with. However, training helps to improve the effectiveness of a disaster management response team. Having the skills needed to help people in extreme conditions is one of the key elements of disaster management training.
3. Promotes Disease Prevention
Disasters cause an enormous number of deaths. However, they also create an additional health risk to those affected. People affected by disasters are frequently exposed to a range of illnesses which can cause further death. Communicable diseases, such as malaria, are much more likely to occur during and after a disaster because a lack of healthcare facilities, clean water, food and proper hygiene is common. Through disaster management practices, communities can improve their health and mitigate the impact of disasters.
4. Reduces Poverty
A natural disaster can have devastating effects on a community. It can push people into poverty and change the lives of entire communities. However, a lot of people affected by a disaster are more likely to stay poor if they are not prepared. A lack of planning prior to a disaster can leave people without basic emergency supplies like food, water, clothing or medicine. By better preparing for disasters, communities can mitigate the threat of poverty, hunger and disease.
5. Improves Health
Disasters, along with their aftermaths, can have a negative effect on a community’s health. Disasters, along with lack of health services and clean water can lead to increased sickness, lack of immunity and a higher risk of infection. Therefore, it is essential that communities have access to health professionals, have a good supply of water and adequate sanitation facilities, and have access to emergency medical care during and after a disaster.
6. Reshapes Communities
Disasters can have a huge impact on the local economy. Communities often suffer huge financial losses during a disaster and therefore may struggle to cope with these losses. A disaster can also impact the social fabric of a community. In this way, disaster management can help communities rebuild their communities and reconnect people with each other. Communities can begin to rebuild their local infrastructure after a disaster, which will also improve the economic health of a community. In many cases, this will benefit the economy as a whole, while also improving the environment in which people live.
7. Strengthens Security
Terrorist groups exploit disasters to cause further bloodshed and chaos. The causes and consequences of disasters can act as a magnet for people with bad intentions to commit acts of terrorism. There are some social conditions which make terrorist activities more likely in certain areas. Examples include poor governance, overcrowding and high levels of poverty. After a disaster, communities must be vigilant in the protection of their security.
8. Promotes Stability
Disasters can disrupt social order, economic activity, and the flow of trade. At their worst, disasters can create insecurity, mistrust, ethnic tensions, hatred and violence. These conflicts, if not addressed, can negatively impact the stability of communities and the effectiveness of local security forces. After a disaster, people who would normally rely on law enforcement agencies to provide security are likely to turn to alternative sources of law and order. This may increase the amount of crime and violence which takes place.
9. Promotes the Protection of Natural Resources
Disasters can be devastating to the lives of people living in an area and can cause environmental degradation. If a disaster negatively affects the environment or local ecosystems, it may also lead to species extinctions, loss of indigenous knowledge, and the general destruction of entire ecosystems. At the same time, disasters can also have a detrimental impact on the social and economic structure of a community, leaving it vulnerable to social instability and human trafficking. Communities must plan for disasters and work to secure their natural resources to ensure they are prepared for the next disaster.
10. Strengthens Social Contracting and Trust
Disasters can undermine social and political stability. Governments, large corporations and other important organisations often fail to provide people with protection during or after a disaster, which can lead to increasing social inequalities, distrust, hostility and violence. This, in turn, can lead to weaker social institutions and increased individual susceptibility to aggression and coercion.
In some cases, people may turn to other forms of authority to solve their problems. This could lead to the creation of groups which exploit these inequalities and disadvantage people in certain areas. This may be reinforced by large corporations or other institutions which lack accountability. In turn, this can weaken democracy and lead to increased inequality and deprivation.