Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Natural Disasters’ for class 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Natural Disasters’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Natural Disasters
- Essay on the Introduction to Natural Disaster
- Essay on Earthquake
- Essay on Flood and Drought
- Essay on Cyclone
- Essay on Landslide
- Essay on Avalanche
- Essay on Tsunami
- Essay on Windstorms
- Essay on Forest Fire
- Essay on Volcanoes
- Essay on Planning For a Safer Tomorrow
- Essay on the Initiatives Taken by the Government
Essay on Natural Disaster # 1. Introduction:
The definition of natural disasters is any catastrophic event that is caused by nature or the natural processes of the earth. The severity of a disaster is measured in lives lost, economic loss, and the ability of the population to rebuild. Events that occur in unpopulated areas are not considered disasters. So a flood on an uninhabited island would not count as a disaster, but a flood in a populated area is called a natural disaster.
All natural disasters cause loss in some way. Depending on the severity, lives can be lost in any number of disasters. Falling buildings or trees, freezing to death, being washed away, or heat stroke are just some of the deadly effects. Some disasters cause more loss of life than others, and population density affects the death count as well.
Hence, there is loss of property, which affects people’s living quarters, transportation, livelihood, and means to live. Fields saturated in salt water after tsunamis take years to grow crops again. Homes destroyed by floods, hurricanes, cyclones, landslides and avalanches, a volcanic eruption, or an earthquake are often beyond repair or take a lot of time to become livable again. Personal effects, memorabilia, vehicles, and documents also take a hit after many natural disasters.
The natural disasters that really affect people worldwide tend to become more intense as the years go on. Frequency of earthquakes, mega storms, and heat waves has gone up considerably in the last few decades. Heavy population in areas that get hit by floods, cyclones, and hurricanes has meant that more lives are lost.
In some areas, the population has gotten somewhat prepared for the eventuality of disasters and shelters are built for hurricanes and tornadoes. However, loss of property is still a problem, and predicting many natural disasters isn’t easy.
Scientists, geologists, and storm watchers work hard to predict major disasters and avert as much damage as possible. With all the technology available, it’s become easier to predict major storms, blizzards, cyclones, and other weather related natural disasters. But there arestill natural disasters that come up rather unexpectedly, such as earthquakes, wildfires, landslides, or even volcanic eruptions.
Sometimes, a time of warning is there, but it’s often very short with catastrophic results. Areas that are not used to disasters affected by flash floods or sudden hail storms can be affected in an extreme way. However, despite the many natural disasters the world over, mankind has shown amazing resilience.
When an area or country is badly affected by a natural disaster, the reaction is always one of solidarity and aid is quick to come. There are organizations set up with the primary goal of being prepared for natural disasters. These groups work on global and local scale rescue work. Aside from those who have chosen to make disaster relief their life-work, when disasters hit, it’s the individuals who step in who help to make a difference.
Many people talk about when a disaster has hit and their neighbours and countrymen have come to aid, often to their own loss. People will step in and donate items, time, and skills in order to help those affected by a natural disaster. Celebrities will often do what they can to raise money through concerts, phone marathons, and visiting affected areas with aid.
People have also shown that they can rebuild, lives can be remade or start over. Trauma is a big after effect of natural disasters and getting counseling has been the focus of aid-to heal emotionally as well as physically. It’s clear that natural disasters are a part of life as we know it. However, science is making it more possible to predict, aid is faster at coming, and people are learning how to rebuild in safer areas.
Essay on Natural Disaster # 2. Earthquake:
India is having a high risk towards earthquakes. More than 58 per cent of India’s land area is under threat of moderate to severe seismic hazard. During the last 20 years, India has experienced 10 major earthquakes that have resulted in more than 35,000 deaths. The most vulnerable areas, according to the present seismic zone map of India include the Himalayan and Sub-Himalayan regions, Kutch and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Depending on varying degrees of seismicity, the entire country can be divided into the following seismic regions: Of the earthquake-prone areas, 12% is proneto very severe earthquakes, 18% to severe earthquakes and 25% to damageable earthquakes.
Though the regions of the country away from the Himalayas and other inter-plate boundaries were considered to be relatively safe from damaging earthquakes, the presence of a large number of non-engineering structures and buildings with poor foundations in these areas make these regions also susceptible to earthquakes.
In the recent past, even these areas also have experienced earthquake, of lower magnitude than the Himalayan earthquakes. The North-eastern part of the country continues to experience moderate to strong earthquakes. On an average, this region experiences an earthquake with magnitude greater than 5.0 every year.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are situated on an inter-plate boundary and therefore are likely to experience damaging earthquakes frequently. The increase in earthquake risk in India in recent times is caused due to a spurt in developmental activities driven by urbanization, economic development and the globalization of India’s economy. The increase in the use of high-technology equipment and tools in manufacturing and service industries have also made them susceptible to disruption due to relatively moderate ground shaking.
Essay on Natural Disaster # 3. Flood and Drought:
The country receives an annual precipitation of 400 million hectare meters. Of the annual rainfall, 75% is received during four months of monsoon (June — September) and, as a result, almost all the rivers carry heavy discharge during this period. The flood hazard is compounded by the problems of sediment deposition, drainage congestion and synchronization of river floods with sea tides in the coastal plains.
The area vulnerable to floods is 40 million hectares and the average area affected by floods annually is about 8 million hectares. About 30 million people are affected by flood every year. Floods in the Indo-Gangetic-Brahmaputra plains are an annual feature. On an average, a few hundred lives are lost, millions are rendered homeless and several hectares of crops are damaged every year around 68% arable land of the country is prone to drought in varying degrees.
Drought prone areas comprise 108.11 million hectares out of a total land area of 329 million hectares. About 50 million people are affected annually by drought. Of approximately 90 million hectares of rain-fed areas, about 40 million hectares are prone to scanty or no rain.
Essay on Natural Disaster # 4. Cyclone:
India’s long coastline of 7,516 kilometer is exposed to nearly 10 per cent of the world’s tropical cyclones. Of these, the majority has their initial genesis over the Bay of Bengal and strike the east coast of India. On an average, five to six tropical cyclones form every year, of which two or three could be severe.
Cyclones occur frequently on both the Coasts (the West Coast —Arabian Sea; and the East Coast —Bay of Bengal). More Cyclones occur in the Bay of Bengal than in the Arabian Sea and the ratio is approximately 4:1.
An analysis of the frequency of cyclones on the East and West Coasts of India between 1891 and 1990 shows that nearly 262 cyclones occurred (92 severe) in a 50 km wide strip on the East Coast. Less severe cyclonic activity has been noticed on the West Coast, with 33 cyclones occurring in the same period, out of which 19 of these were severe.
In India, Tropical cyclones occur in the months of May-June and October-November. The cyclones of severe intensity and frequency in the north Indian Ocean are bi-modal in character, with their primary peak in November and secondary peak in May. The disaster potential is particularly high at the time of landfall in the north Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) due to the accompanying destructive wind, storm surges and torrential rainfall.
Of these, storm surges are the greatest killers of a cyclone, by which sea water inundates low lying areas of coastal regions and causes heavy floods, erodes beaches and embankments, destroys vegetation and reduces soil fertility.
Essay on Natural Disaster # 5. Landslide:
In the hilly terrain of India including the Himalayas, landslides have been a major and widely spread natural disasters that often strike life and property and occupy a position of major concern. One of the worst tragedies took place at Malpa (Uttrakhand) on 11th and 17th August, 1998. When nearly 380 people were killed when massive landslides washed away the entire village. This included 60 pilgrims going to Lake.
Mansarovar in Tibet. In 2010 Cloud burst led flash mudslides and flash floods killed 196 people, including 6 foreigners and injured more than 400 and swept away number of houses, sweeping away buildings, bus stand and military installations in trans-Himalaya Leh town of Jammu and Kashmir.
Giving due consideration to the severity of the problem various land reform measures have been initiated as mitigation measures. Landslides occur in the hilly regions such as the Himalayas, North-East India, the Nilgiris, and Eastern and Western Ghats.
Essay on Natural Disaster # 6. Avalanche:
Avalanches are river like speedy flow of snow or ice descending from the mountain tops. Avalanches are very damaging and cause huge loss to life and property. In Himalayas, avalanches are common in Drass, Pir Panijat, Lahaul-Spiti and Badrinath areas.
As per Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), on an average around 30 people are killed every year due to this disaster in various zones of the Himalayas. Beside killing people, avalanches also damage the roads and others properties and settlements falling in its way.
Area Prone to Avalanches:
I. Avalanches are common in Himalayan region above 3500 m elevation.
II. Very frequent on slopes of 30-45°.
III. Convex slopes more prone to this disaster.
IV. North facing slope have avalanches in winter and south facing slopes during spring.
V. Slopes covered with grass more prone to this hazard.
Essay on Natural Disaster # 7. Tsunami:
Tsunami, or seismic sea waves, are large ocean waves generated by impulses from geophysical events occurring on the ocean floor or along the coastline, such as earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions.
Mostly occurring in the Pacific Ocean, tsunamis, although hardly noticeable at sea, can reach gigantic proportions as they reach shallow, coastal waters. In Hawaii and Japan, for example, tsunamis have been known to reach 30 m in height. At least 22 countries along the rim of the Pacific are estimated to beat risk from potential tsunami.
The fact that tsunamis can travel 10,000 km at velocities exceeding 900 km per hour with little loss of energy and are, therefore, capable of hitting areas not directly affected by the inducing event, has led to the establishment of a tsunami early warning service for the whole circum-Pacific area.
However, only a few of the 22 countries most at risk are considered to have standard operating procedures for immediate evacuation or reliable, rapid communication systems capable of receiving real-time warnings from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.
About 6,000-people have been killed by tsunami during 1977-1986 alone. Probably the best documented of these events is the occurrence at Noshiro, Japan, in 1983 which caused approximately 100 deaths and extensive property damage and flooding. The tsunami (Dec. 2004) in South East Asia lead to a death tool of over 2.5 lakhs peoples of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Sumatra and India.
Tsunamis have multiple origin—16.5 per cent resulted from tectonic earthquakes associated with the eruption, 20 per cent from pyroclastic (ash) flows or surges hitting the ocean, 14 per cent from submarine eruptions, 7 per cent resulted from the collapse of the volcano and subsequent caldera formation, 5 per cent from landslides or avalanches, 3 per cent from atmospheric shock waves and 25 per cent had no discernible origin, but probably were produced by submerged volcanic eruptions.
A partial geographical distribution of tsunamis is given in Table 30.2:
Over past two thousand years there have been 10, 00,000 deaths attributed to tsunami in the Pacific region alone. Earlier Pacific Tsunami warning system was established for forecasting the event. Now global network was established in all Oceans & Seas.
Essay on Natural Disaster # 8. Windstorms:
Judged by the frequency with which they cause damage and by the surface area of the regions they strike, windstorms can be said to be the most significant of all natural hazards. Windstorms influence precipitation systems floods and, most importantly, cause severe destruction to crops and properties.
Severe tropical cyclones (called “hurricanes” in the Atlantic, Caribbean and north-eastern Pacific; “typhoons” in the western Pacific; and “cyclones” in the Indian Ocean and in the sea around Australia), tornadoes, monsoons and thunderstorms between them affect every country in the world.
Today increasing attention is being paid to windstorms, particularly tropical cyclones as some scientists see their incidence as being a possible indicator of global climatic change and predict an increase in their frequency.
Have tropical cyclone frequencies or their intensities increased with global changes throughout the last century? At present, available evidence does not support this idea, perhaps because the warming is not yet large enough to make its impact felt (WMO/UNEP, 1990).
Global information on Kanor windstorms and their impact is collated by organisations such as UNDRO UNEP and AID/OFDA. However, global listings of disasters rarely include those which occur in small states such as island states, which in areas such as the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and South Pacific are particularly prone to tropical cyclones.
This is because listings often set a criteria based on magnitude of impact with which small states cannot compete against larger countries. However, the proportional impact upon small states is often far greater in terms of population, housing and economics.
The impact of cyclones goes far beyond just deaths and building damage. In developing countries destruction of infrastructure and primary agriculture can lead to a decrease in exports and gross national product, while increasing the likelihood of forfeiture of international loan repayments. Contamination of water supplies and destruction of crops can also lead to disease and starvation.
Many mid-latitude cyclonic depressions can give rise to exceptionally heavy rain and widespread flooding and snow fall too. Dust storms are windstorms accompanied by suspended clay, silt materials, usually but not always without precipitation. Average 130-800 million tonnes of dust are entrained by winds each year.
Severe windstorms with high level of flush rain often called thunderstorms associated with lightning, hail and tornadoes cause massive destruction of properties and also human lives through out the world. Early warning and emergency relief operation are the major management activity.
Essay on Natural Disaster # 9. Forest Fire:
Forest or bush fire, though not causing much loss to human life, is a major hazard for forest cover in the country. As per Forest Survey of India report, 50 per cent of the forest cover of the country is fire prone, out of which 6.17 per cent is prone to severe fire damage causing extensive loss to forest vegetation and environment. Average annual physical loss due to forest fire in the country is estimated to worth Rs.440 crores.
The major loss due to forest fire is caused to the environment which gets adversely affected by this calamity. The degradation of climate, soil and water quality, loss of wildlife and its habitat, deterioration of human health, depletion of ozone layer, etc., along with direct loss to timber are the major adverse impact of forest fires.
The coniferous forests in the Himalayan region are very susceptible to fire and every year there are one or more major fire incidences in these areas. The other parts of the country dominated by deciduous forest are also damaged by fire up to an extent. It is worth mentioning that in India 90 per cent of the forest fires are man-made (intentionally or unintentionally).
Essay on Natural Disaster # 10. Volcanoes:
Volcanoes are conduits in the earth’s crust through which gas enriched molten silicate rock magma reaches to the surface of earth crust.
An active volcano occurs where magma (molten rock) reaches the earth’s surface through a central vent or a long crack (fissure) Volcanic activity can release ejecta (debris), liquid lava and gases (H2O vapour C2, SO2, NOx, etc.) to the environment.
There are two types of magma ejected out of volcanoes —silica poor materials, and silica rich materials. The silica poor volcanoes called basaltic volcanoes, while the silica rich volcanoes are andesitic volcanoes.
There are many hazardous phenomena produced directly or as secondary effects, by volcanic eruptions.
The direct hazards of volcanic eruptions are:
a. Lava flow;
b. Ballistics and tephra clouds;
c. Pyroclastic flows and base surges;
d. Gases and acid rains;
e. Lahars (mud flows); and
f. Glacier bursts (Jokulhlamps).
In addition indirectly they are associated with earthquake and tsunami events. Volcanoes are visually one of the most spectacular natural hazardous to occur and probably most devastating in terms of loss of human life.
The volcano likes Mt. Vesurivs, Mt. St Helena, Krakatoa, and Mt, Pelee are significant because of either the enormity of the eruption or the resulting death tool. As per Gaius Pinius Caecilius secundus on 24 August, 79 AD the Nt. Vesuvius eruption causes 2,000 death and burying of the Pompeii city.
There is no doubt that the earth is experiencing on of the most intense periods of volcanism in the last 10,000 years. This period began at the beginning of the seventh century, concomitant with global cooling that peaked in the little ice age.
In contrast the volcanic events of the last century may be viewed as freak eruption of supposedly dormant volcanoes. In the present era, volcanic eruption are pervasive, unpredictable and deadly.
Land use planning better prediction of volcanic eruptions and development of effective evacuation plans reduce the loss of human life from volcanic eruption. The prediction systems related to volcanic activity has improved considerably during past few decades. The environmental consequence of volcanic eruption without or with anthropogenic emission is shown in Fig. 30.3.
Essay on Natural Disaster # 11. Planning For a Safer Tomorrow:
Natural disasters have a severe impact on the society, therefore it is important to plan and develop a safety programme and devise means to efficiently deal with natural disaster. Development programme that go into promoting development at the local level have been left to the general exercise of planning.
Measures need also to be taken to integrate disaster mitigation efforts at the local level with the general exercise of planning, and a more supportive environment created for initiatives towards managing of disasters at all levels: national, state, district and local.
The future blue-print for disaster management in India rests on the premise that in today’s society while hazards, both natural or otherwise, are inevitable, the disasters that follow need not be so and the society can be prepared to cope with them effectively whenever they occur.
The need of the hour is to chalk out a multi-pronged strategy for total risk management, comprising prevention, preparedness, response and recovery on the one hand, and initiate development efforts aimed towards risk reduction and mitigation, on the other. Only then can we look forward to “sustainable development”.
Prevention and Preparedness:
Disaster prevention is intrinsically linked to preventive planning.
Some of the important steps in this regard are:
1. Introduction of a comprehensive process of vulnerability analysis and objective risk assessment.
2. Building a Robust and Sound Information Database:
A comprehensive database of the landuse, demography, infrastructure developed at the national, state and local levels alongwith current information on climate, weather and man-made structures is crucial in planning, warning and assessment of disasters. In addition, resource inventories of governmental and non-governmental systems including personnel and equipment help inefficient mobilization and optimization of response measures.
3. Creating State-of-the-Art Infrastructure:
The entire disaster mitigation game plan must necessarily be anchored to front line research and development in a holistic mode. State-of-the art technologies available worldwide need to be made available in India for upgrading of the disaster management system; at the same time, dedicated research activities should be encouraged, in all frontier areas related to disasters like biological, space applications, information technology, nuclear radiation etc., for a continuous flow of high quality basic information for sound disaster management planning.
4. Establishing Linkages between all knowledge-based Institutions:
A National Disaster Knowledge Network, tuned to the felt needs of a multitude of users like disaster managers, decision-makers, community etc., must be developed as the network of networks to cover natural, man-made and biological disasters in all their varied dimensions.
Reconstruction and rebuilding is a long drawn process and those involved in this exercise have to draw upon knowledge of best practices and resources available to them. Information and training on ways to better respond to and mitigate disasters to the responders go a long way in building the capacity and resilience of the country to reduce and prevent disasters.
Training is an integral part of capacity building as trained personnel respond much better to different disaster sand appreciate the need for preventive measures. The multi-sectoral and multi-hazard prevention based approach to disaster management. Professional training in disaster management is essential and should be built into the existing pedagogic research and education.
Specialised courses should be treated as a distinct academic and professional discipline, the subject needs to be discussed and taught as a specific component in professional and specialised courses like medicine, nursing, engineering, environmental sciences, architecture, and town and country planning.
Secondly, there has to be a focus towards preventive disaster management and development of a national ethos of prevention calls for an awareness generation at all levels. An appropriate level of awareness at the school level will help increase awareness among children and, in many cases, parents and other family members through these children.
Curriculum development with a focus towards dissemination of disaster related information on a sustained basis, covering all school levels may be worked out by the different school boards in the country.
Training facilities for government personnel involved in disaster management are conducted at the national level by the National Centre for Disaster Management at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, in New Delhi which functions as the nodal institution in the country for training, research and documentation of disasters.
At the State level, disaster management cells operating within the State Administrative Training Institutes (ATIs) provide the necessary training. Presently, 24 ATIs have dedicated faculties. There is a need for strengthening specialized training, including training of personnel in disaster response.
Finally, capacity building should not be limited to professionals and personnel involved in disaster management but should also focus on building the knowledge, attitude and skills of a community to cope with the effects of disasters. Identification and training of volunteers from the community towards first response measures as well as mitigation measures is an urgent imperative.
A programme of periodic drills should be introduced in vulnerable areas to enable prompt and appropriate community response in the event of a disaster which can help save valuable lives.
Disaster management programme must strive to build a disaster resilient community equipped with safer living and sustainable livelihoods to serve its own development purposes. The community is also the first responder in any critical situation there by emphasizing the need for community level initiatives in managing disasters.
There is a need to create awareness through education training and information dissemination, community based approach followed by most NGOs and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) should be incorporated in the disaster management sector as an effective means of community participation.
Finally, within a vulnerable community, there exist groups that are more vulnerable like women and children, aged and in firm and physically challenged people who need special care and attention especially during crisis. Efforts are required for identifying such vulnerable groups and providing special assistance in terms of evacuation, relief, aid and medical attention.
Management of disasters should therefore be an interface between a community effort to mitigate and prevent disasters as also an effort from the government machinery to buttress and support popular initiatives.
Developing a Stronger Plan:
Given the damage caused by disaster, planned expenditure on disaster management and prevention measures in addition to the CRF is required. The Central Sector Scheme of Natural Disaster Management Programme has been implemented since 1993-94 by the Department of Agriculture and Co-operation with the objective to focus on disaster preparedness with emphasis on mitigation and preparedness measures for enhanced capability to reduce the adverse impact of disasters.
The major activities undertaken within this scheme include the setting up of the National Centre for Disaster Management (NCDM) at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, creation of 24 disaster management faculties in 23 states, research and consultancy services, documentation of major disaster events and forging regional cooperation.
The Eighth Plan allocation of Rs.6.30 crore for this scheme was increased to Rs.16.32 crore in the Ninth Plan. Within this scheme, NCDM has conducted over 50 training programme, training more than 1000 people, while 24 disaster management centers with dedicated faculty have been established in the states.
Over 4000 people have been trained at the State level. In addition, some important publications and audio-visual training modules have been prepared and documentation of disaster events has been done.
Though limited in scope and outlays, the Scheme has made an impact on the training and research activities in the country. Creation of faculties in disaster management in all 28 states is proposed to be taken up in the Tenth Plan in addition to community mobilisation, human resource development, establishment of Control Rooms and forging international cooperation in disaster management.
There is also an urgent need for strengthening the disaster management pedagogy by creating disaster management faculties in universities, rural development institutes and other organisations of premier research. Sustainability is the key word in the development process.
Development activities that do not consider the disaster loss perspective fail to be sustainable. The compounded costs of disasters relating to loss of life, loss of assets, economic activities, and cost of reconstruction of not only assets but of lives can scarcely be borne by any community or nation.
Therefore, all development schemes in vulnerable areas should include a disaster mitigation analysis, where by the feasibility of a project is assessed with respect to vulnerability of the area and the mitigation measures required for sustainability. Environmental protection, afforestation programme, pollution control, construction of earthquake resistant structures etc., should therefore have high priority within the plans Mitigation measures on individual structures can be achieved by design standards building codes and performance specifications.
Building codes, critical front-line defence for achieving stronger engineered structures, need to be drawn up in accordance with the vulnerability of the area and implemented through appropriate techno-legal measures. Mitigation measures need to be considered in land use and site planning activities.
Constructions in hazardous areas like flood plains or steep soft slopes are more vulnerable to disasters. Necessary mitigation measures need to be built into the design and costing of development projects. Insurance is a potentially important mitigation measure in disaster-prone areas as it brings quality in the infrastructure consciousness and a culture of safety by its insistence on following building codes, norms, guidelines, quality materials in construction etc.
Disaster insurance mostly works under the premise of ‘higher the risk higher the premium, lesser the risk lesser the premium’, thus creating awareness towards vulnerable areas and motivating people to settle in relatively safer areas?
Essay on Natural Disaster # 12. Major Initiatives taken by Government of India:
Natural disasters have become a recurring phenomenon in the recent past. In the last twenty years or so three million people have been killed as a result of such events. There is a need to focus and develop a plan that would focus on disaster management planning for prevention, reduction, mitigation, preparedness and response to reduce life and property due to natural disaster.
If we take it in the Indian context, the five year plans have never really taken into consideration the issues relating to the management and mitigation of natural disasters. The traditional perception has been limited to the idea of “calamity relief”, which is seen essentially as a non-plan item of expenditure. Disasters can have devastating impact on the economy and is a significant setback to the development in a given region.
Two recent disasters, the Orissa Cyclone and the Gujarat Earthquake, are cases in point. The development process needs to be sensitive towards disaster prevention and mitigation aspects. There is thus a need to look at disasters from a development perspective as well.
Disaster management may not be directly associated with planned financing, but number of schemes are in operation, such as for drought proofing, afforestation, drinking water, etc., which deal with the prevention and mitigation of the impact of natural disasters. Extra assistance for post-disaster reconstruction and streamlining of management structures also is a major consideration of the plan.
A specific, centrally sponsored scheme on disaster management also exists. The plan thus already has a defined role in dealing with the subject. There have been an increasing number of natural disaster over the past years, and with it, increasing losses on account of urbanisation and population growth, as a result of which the impact of natural disasters is now felt to a larger extent.
According to the United Nations, in 2001 alone, natural disasters of medium to high range caused at least 25,000 deaths around the world, more than double the previous year, and economic losses of around US $ 36 billion. Devastations in the aftermath of powerful earthquakes that struck Gujarat, El Salvador and Peru; floods that ravaged many countries in Africa, Asia and elsewhere; droughts that plagued Central Asia including Afghanistan, Africa and Central America; the cyclone in Madagascar and Orissa; and floods in Bolivia are global events in recent memory.
However, what is disturbing is the knowledge that these trends of destruction and devastation are on the rise instead of being kept in check.
Natural disasters know no political boundaries and have no social or economic considerations. They are borderless as they affect both developing and developed countries. They are also merciless, and as such the vulnerable tend to suffer more at the impact of natural disasters.
For example, the developing countries are much more seriously affected in terms of the loss of lives, hardship borne by population and the percentage of their GNP lost. Since number of the most vulnerable regions is in India, natural disaster management has emerged as a high priority for the country.
Going beyond the historical focus on relief and rehabilitation after the event, we now have to look ahead and plan for disaster preparedness and mitigation, in order that the periodic shocks to our development efforts are minimized.
Physical vulnerabilities have a direct impact on the population their proximity to the hazard zone and standards of safety maintained to counter the effects. For instance, some people are vulnerable to flood only because they live in a flood prone area. Physical vulnerability also relates to the technical capacity of buildings and structures to resist the forces acting upon them during a hazard event.
However, physical calamities is not the only criteria, there are prevailing social and economic conditions and its consequential effect on human activities within a given society. Parts of the Indian sub-continent are susceptible to different types of disasters owing to the unique topographic and climatic characteristics.
About 54 per cent of the sub-continent’s land mass is vulnerable to earthquakes while about 4 crore hectares is vulnerable to periodic floods. The decade 1990-2000, has been one of very high disaster losses within the country, losses in the Orissa Cyclone in 1999, and later, the Gujarat Earthquake in 2001 alone amount to several thousand crore of Rupees, while the total expenditure incurred on relief and reconstruction in Gujarat alone has been to the tune of Rs.11,500 crore. Disasters often result in enormous economic losses that are both immediate as well as long term in nature and demand additional revenues.
Also, as an immediate fall-out, disasters reduce revenues from the affected region due to lower levels of economic activity leading to loss of direct and indirect taxes. In addition, unplanned budgetary allocation to disaster recovery can hamper development interventions and lead to unmet developmental targets.
Disasters may also reduce availability of new investment, further constricting the growth of the region. Besides, additional pressures may be imposed on finances of the government through investments in relief and rehabilitation work.