Disaster and its causes


A crisis may be defined as an emergency situation arising out of a natural or human activity which poses a threat to human life and property or leads to large scale disruption of normal life. This emergency situation may arise suddenly or it may be an outcome of a simmering problem or issue, which was not nipped in the bud. A crisis may degenerate into a disaster if it is not properly managed resulting in avoidable loss of human life and property on a large scale.

Crises can be classified into the following categories:

(i) acts of nature.These can further  be divided into the following sub-categories:

  • a. Climatic events: cyclones and storms(associated sea erosion), floods and drought and
  • b. Geological events: earthquakes, tsunamis,landslides and avalanches;

(ii) environmental degradation and disturbance of the ecological balance;

(iii) accidents: industrial and nuclear mishaps and fire-related accidents;

(iv) biological activities: public health crises, epidemics etc;

(v) hostile elements: war,terrorism,extremism,insurgency etc;

(vi) disruption/failure of major infrastructure facilities including communication systems, large-scale strikes etc; and

(vii) large crowds getting out of control.


The United Nations defines disaster as “the occurrence of sudden or major misfortune which disrupts the basic fabric and normal functioning of the society or community”.

Section 2(d) of the Disaster Management Act of 2005

Definition:-“disaster” means a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or manmade causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.

Natural Hazards and Disaster

Natural Hazards are elements of circumstances in the Natural environment that have the potential to cause harm to people or property or both. These may be swift or permanent aspects of the respective environmental settings like currents in the oceans, steep slope and unstable structural features in the Himalayas or extreme climatic conditions in deserts or glaciated areas.

Natural disasters are relatively sudden and cause large scale, widespread death, loss of property and disturbance to social systems and life over which people have a little or no control. Thus, any event can be classed as disaster when the magnitude of destruction and damage caused by it is very high.

Classification of Natural Disasters
Atmospheric Terrestrial Aquatic Biological
  • Blizzards
  • Thunderstorms
  • Lightning
  • Tornadoes
  • Tropical cyclone
  • Drought
  • Hailstorm
  • Frost, Heat wave, Loo
  • Cold waves
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Landslides
  • Avalanches
  • Subsidence
  • Soil erosion

  • Floods
  • Tidal waves
  • Ocean currents
  • Storm surge
  • Tsunami

  • Plants and animals as colonisers (Locusts, etc)
  • Insects infestation - fungal, bacterial, viral diseases such as bird flu, dengue, etc

What is Disaster Management:

As per Disaster Management Act, 2005, “disaster management” means a continuous and integrated process of planning, organising, coordinating and implementing measures which are necessary or expedient for:

(i)Prevention ofdangerorthreatofany disaster;

(ii)Mitigation orreduction ofrisk ofany disasterorits severity orconsequences;


(iv)Preparedness to dealwith any disaster;

(v)Promptresponse to any threatening disastersituation ordisaster;

(vi)Assessing the severity ormagnitude ofeffects ofany disaster;evacuation,rescue and relief;

(vii)Rehabilitation and reconstruction;

Disaster Management can be defined as the organization and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies, in particular preparednessresponse and recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters. Disaster management includes administrative decisions and operational activities that involve

 Prevention

 Mitigation

 Preparedness

 Response

 Recovery

 Rehabilitation

Disaster management involves all levels of government. Nongovernmental and community-based organizations play a vital role in the process. Modern disaster management goes beyond post-disaster assistance. It now includes pre-disaster planning and preparedness activities, organizational planning, training, information management, public relations and many other fields. Crisis management is important, but is only a part of the responsibility of a disaster manager. The newer paradigm is Total Risk Management(TRM) which takes a holistic approach to risk reduction.

Disaster Management Cycle

Last modified: Monday, 14 October 2019, 4:19 PM