Local Level Risk Management : Indian Experience

31 Dec 2007


The GoI-UNDP Disaster Risk Management (DRM) programme essentially aims to contribute towards the social and economic development goals of the National Government and enabling the selected multi-hazard States to minimise losses of development gains from disasters and reduce vulnerability.

India has been traditionally vulnerable to natural disasters on account of its unique geo-climatic conditions. Floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides are regular phenomena in India. The multi-hazard scenario depicted in the Vulnerability Atlas of India (produced by Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC), New Delhi, India), shows that out of the total geographical area of 32, 87,263 sq. km, about 60% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various intensities; over 40 million hectares is prone to floods; about 8% of the total area is prone to cyclones and 68% of the area is susceptible to drought. During 1990-2000, on an average of about 4344 people lost their lives, about 30 million people were affected by various disasters every year and average annual damage has been estimated to be approximately 2700 million rupees. As per the World Bank estimates, during 1996-2001 the total losses due to disasters, including the super cyclone of Orissa in October 1999 and the Bhuj earthquake in Gujarat in January, 2001, amounts to US$ 13.8 billion.

Over the past two decades, there has been an increase in disaster occurrences costing human and economic losses. This is due to the ever increasing vulnerabilities of people to natural disasters. The need is felt to reduce disaster risks by improving capabilities of people and ensuring preparedness, mitigation and response planning processes at various levels. The objective is to look at the entire cycle of disaster management in reducing risk and linking it to developmental planning process. In the past, disasters were viewed as isolated events, responded to by the Governments and various agencies without taking into account the social and economic causes and long term implications of these events. In short, disasters were considered as emergencies.

The recent disasters and its socio-economic impact on the country at large, and in particular the communities has underscored the need to adopt a multi dimensional approach involving diverse scientific, engineering, financial and social processes to reduce vulnerability in multi-hazard prone areas. In view of this, the Government of India has brought about a paradigm shift in its approach to disaster management. The change is from “relief and emergency response” to a balanced approach covering all phases of the Disaster Management Cycle. This approach acknowledges disaster management as a part of the development process, and investments in mitigation are perceived to be much more cost effective than relief and rehabilitation expenditure. In this regard, Government of India has taken various initiatives in area of disaster preparedness, mitigation and response through networking of various institutions, institutional capacity building, and policy interventions at all levels.

Community participation and community ownership in disaster risk reduction is one of the key factors in reducing vulnerabilities of people and minimizing the loss. The Government of India’s focus Community Based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP) approach promotes community involvement and strengthening of their capacities for vulnerability reduction through decentralised planning process. This document deals with the concept, component and some of the best practices in India.

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