Disaster Management in India

31 May 2011


India is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, losing about two percent of the GDP on an average to disasters. This publication by the Ministry of Home Affairs, and supported by UNDP highlights policies and programmes undertaken by the Government of India to mitigate disaster risk, and areas of action to make the country disaster resilient in the future.

India’s geo-climatic conditions as well as its high degree of socio-economic vulnerability, makes it one of the most disaster prone country in the world. A disaster is an extreme disruption of the functioning of a society that causes widespread human, material, or environmental losses that exceed the ability of the affected society to cope with its own resources. Disasters are sometimes classified according to whether they are “natural” disasters, or “human-made” disasters. For example, disasters caused by floods, droughts, tidal waves and earth tremors are generally considered “natural disasters.” Disasters caused by chemical or industrial accidents, environmental pollution, transport accidents and political unrest are classified as “human-made” or “humaninduced” disasters since they are the direct result of human action.

A more modern and social understanding of disasters, however, views this distinction as artificial since most disasters result from the action or inaction of people and their social and economic structures. This happens by people living in ways that degrade their environment, developing and over populating urban centres, or creating and perpetuating social and economic systems. Communities and population settled in areas susceptible to the impact of a raging river or the violent tremors of the earth are placed in situations of high vulnerability because of their socio-economic conditions. This is compounded by every aspect of nature being subject to seasonal, annual and sudden fluctuations and also due to the unpredictability of the timing, frequency and magnitude of occurrence of the disasters.

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