What Is Disaster?

Categories: Natural Disasters



Disaster is 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 defined by The DM Act 2005. Few terms associated with disaster have been briefly discussed below: Accident – There are several important characteristics that make Disasters different from Accidents.

Variables such as Causes, Frequency, Duration of the Impact, Speed of Onset, Scope of the Impact, Destructive Potential, Human Vulnerability etc determine the difference. The loss of a sole income earner in a car crash may be a disaster to a family, but only an accident to the community. Hazard – It refers to a dangerous condition or events that threaten or have the potential for causing injury to life or damage to property or the environment.

Hazards can be categorized in various ways but, based on the origin; hazards worldwide are basically grouped in two broad headings:

a. Natural Hazards (hazards with meteorological, geological or even biological origin).

b. Unnatural Hazards (hazards with human-caused or technological origin).

Vulnerability – It is the extent to which a community, structure, service or geographic area is likely to be damaged or disrupted by the impact of particular hazard, on account of their nature, construction and proximity to hazardous terrain or a disaster-prone area.

Top Writers
Tutor Janice
Verified writer
4.9 (549)
Verified writer
5 (298)
Writer Jennie
Verified writer
4.8 (467)
hire verified writer

Vulnerability is of three types

a. Physical Vulnerability

b. Social Vulnerability

c. Economic Vulnerability

Risk – It is a measure of the expected losses (deaths, injuries, property, economic activity etc) due to a hazard of a particular magnitude occurring in a given area over a specific time period. Risk is a function of hazards, location, exposure, and vulnerability. Risk reduction can take place through preparedness and mitigation measures.

Types of Disasters

Disasters are broadly grouped into two major categories i.e., Natural Disasters and Human Induced or Man- made Disasters. Natural disasters are large-scale geological or meteorological events that have the potential to cause loss of life or property while Man-made disasters are events caused by human action or inaction. Some major disasters are as follows: – Earthquake: It can be defined as the shaking of the Earth caused by waves moving on and below the Earth's surface and causing: surface faulting, tremors, vibration, liquefaction, landslides, aftershocks and or tsunamis. The intense heat released by the Earth's core causes the mantle to move which further results in the movement of the tectonic plates. The lithospheric plates undergo divergence and convergence, it is the latter movement that causes quakes on the Earth’s surface. Floods: Flooding is defined as an overflow of water onto land that is normally dry.

Floods can happen during heavy rains, when ocean waves come on shore, when snow melts too fast, or when dams or levees break. Floods are the most common and widespread of all weather-related natural disasters. Volcanic Eruption: Volcanic eruptions happen when lava and gas are discharged from a volcanic vent. The most common consequences of this are population movements as large numbers of people are often forced to flee the moving lava flow. Landslides: Landslide is defined as the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope. Landslides can be caused by rainfall, snowmelt, changes in water level, stream erosion, changes in ground water, earthquakes, volcanic activity, disturbance by human activities, or by a combination of these factors. Drought: A drought is a period of time when an area or region experiences below-normal precipitation. Drought affects people in many ways. Access to clean drinking water becomes a major challenge that humanity faces during a drought. Water is also needed for crops to grow.

Major disasters in India:

Uttarakhand Flash Floods

• Year 2013

• Areas affected: Gobindghat, Kedar Dome, Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Western Nepal

• Death Toll: 5000 In the year 2013, Uttarakhand suffered from a major catastrophic natural disaster in the form of huge and deadly cloudbursts, causing flash floods in River Ganga. Sudden, heavy rains caused dangerous landslides in Uttarakhand, which killed thousands of people and thousands were reported missing. The death toll was estimated to be 5,700. The flash floods and landslides continued for 4 days from 14 to 17 June, 2013. More than 1,00,000 pilgrims were trapped in the valleys that led to the Kedarnath shrine. The Indian Ocean Tsunami

• Year: 2004

• Areas affected: Parts of southern India and Andaman Nicobar Islands, Sri Lanka, Indonesia etc.

• Death toll: 2 lakhs Following a major earthquake in 2004, there was a huge tsunami in the Indian Ocean, causing immense loss of life and property in India and the neighbouring countries – Sri Lanka and Indonesia. The earthquake had its epicentre in the ocean bed which led to this destructive tsunami. The magnitude was measured between 9.1 and 9.3 and it lasted for almost 10 minutes. Gujarat Earthquake • Year 2001

• Areas affected: Bhuj, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Kutch, Surat, Surendranagar district, Rajkot district, Jamnagar and Jodia

• Death toll: 20,000 Gujarat was affected by a massive earthquake on the morning of 26 January, 2001, the day on which India was celebrating its 51st Republic Day. The earthquake’s intensity was in the range of 7.6 to 7.9 on the Richter Scale and lasted for 2 minutes. The impact was so great that almost 20,000 people lost their lives. It is estimated that around 167,000 were injured and nearly 400,000 were left homeless in this natural disaster. Odisha Super Cyclone

• Year 1999 • Areas affected: The coastal districts of Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Ganjam etc.

• Death toll: 10,000

This is one of the deadliest storms that affected the state of Odisha in 1999. Also known as the Paradip cyclone or super cyclone 05B, this cyclone caused deaths of more than 10,000 people in the state. More than 275,000 houses were destroyed. Around 1.67 million people were left homeless. When the cyclone reached its peak intensity of 912 mb, it became the strongest tropical cyclone of the North Indian basin. Disaster Management It can be defined as the body of policy and administrative decisions and operational activities which pertain to the various stages of a disaster at all levels.

Broadly, the measures for disaster management could be taken in three stages- pre-disaster, during disaster and post-disaster contexts: – Before a disaster strikes (pre-disaster) Activities taken to reduce human and property losses caused by the hazard and ensure that these losses are also minimized when the disaster strikes. Risk reduction activities are taken under this stage and they are termed as mitigation and preparedness activities. During a disaster (disaster occurrence) Activities taken to ensure that the needs and provisions of victims are met and suffering is minimized. Activities taken under this stage are called as emergency response activities After a disaster (post-disaster) Activities taken to achieve early recovery and does not expose the earlier vulnerable conditions. Activities taken under this stage are called as response and recovery activities.

The Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the National Policy, 2009 marks the institutionalization of paradigm shift in disaster management in India, from a relief-centric approach to one of proactive prevention, mitigation and preparedness. The national plan has incorporated the national commitment towards the Sendai Framework. The Policy notes that while it is not possible to avoid natural hazards, adequate mitigation and disaster risk reduction measures can prevent the hazards becoming major disasters. For each hazard, the approach used in this national plan incorporates the four priorities enunciated in the Sendai Framework into the planning framework for Disaster Risk Reduction under the five thematic areas for action: 

1. Understanding Risk

2. Inter-Agency Coordination

3. Investing in DRR – Structural Measures

4. Investing in DRR – Non-Structural Measures

5. Capacity Development

The disaster risk reduction and mitigation plan integrate the global targets into the national efforts and seeks to strengthen significantly India’s reliance to both natural and human-induced disasters. The DM Act 2005 defines "Mitigation" as measures aimed at reducing the risk, impact, or effects of a disaster or threatening disaster situation. Goal of mitigation is to minimize risks from multiple hazards and the threats from individual hazards need not always occur in isolation. At times, a hazardous event can trigger secondary events. In addition, demographics, nature of human settlements, and effects of global climate change can magnify the vulnerability of the communities at risk. The DM Plan, therefore, focuses on enhancing the mitigation capabilities for multiple hazards, their likely cascading effects. India, due to its, physiographic and climatic conditions is one of the most disaster-prone areas of the world. Vulnerability to disasters/emergencies of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) origin also exists. Heightened vulnerabilities to disaster risks can be related to increasing population, urbanization, industrialization, development within high-risk zones, environmental degradation, and climate change.



The purpose of the study is to understand and analyse vulnerability of a society towards disaster. To increase the resiliency of a community to natural and man-made hazards, before they become disasters, must first begin with a comprehensive risk and vulnerability assessment. Earthquake vulnerability: To sensitize the society towards earthquake vulnerability and also studying about the physical vulnerability of their houses including the housing structures, materials and also the socio-economic vulnerability in order to have a proper research about the area and have disaster prepared plans for future. Fire vulnerability: The vulnerability assessment is done because of increasing population urban areas face man-made disasters to a high extent specifically fire accidents which are caused because various reasons mainly because of high electricity dependence, cylinder blasts or ignorance towards the basic safety measures that are to be taken while construction and after that as well.

The understanding and research about the society will help us to create a generalized picture of the awareness level of the people. Community awareness: Vulnerability assessment will highlight the awareness among the people and the community preparedness. It will also highlight the various government schemes and their implementation on ground specifically the National disaster management authority’s preparedness. The working of Resident Welfare Association (RWA) will also be highlighted in the study. The purpose is also to create awareness among the people about disaster, it’s management and mitigation.


To assess the Earthquake vulnerability and preparedness levels of the people of Chattarpur. To analyse the risk of Fire Hazard experienced by the people of Chattarpur and identify map to plot the zones with different vulnerability levels. To study the community preparedness and awareness levels in Chattarpur and strengthening them to mitigate the possible future hazards.


The data used for making this file comprises of both primary and secondary data. Through random sampling, the respondents were chosen representing the entire population of the study area. The primary data was collected from the Questionnaire survey, Census, 2011 (Maps), Personal interviews of people of Chattarpur, mainly the residents, shopkeepers, and workers. The secondary data regarding all the disasters was assimilated from books, National disaster management Act, 2005, government sites, newspapers and journals, Google Earth pro, M S Excel for understanding the physical, social, economic conditions of Delhi and Chattarpur area.


In the present report a mixed method approach was followed. To conduct the research, primary questionnaire-based survey is conducted in which both quantitative and qualitative data is used mostly focusing on the qualitative aspect of data. The vulnerability assessment is also done through data collected from questionnaire survey which is the major primary source. LITERATURE REVIEW: Jag Mohan Humar, David Lau and Jean-Robert Pierre (March,2001). Performance of Buildings During the 2001 Bhuj Earthquake. The authors visited the earthquake (Jan 2001) affected, Kachchh province of Gujrat, India during 11-18 March 2001, to study the performance of buildings during earthquake. They observed that the majority of buildings constructed in villages and around out-skirts of urban areas were load earring masonry structures; build with large size blocks, stones, bricks, solid or hollow concrete blocks, in poor quality mortar. The majority of structures had no engineering input and developed in traditional way. The heavy roof portion supported with wooden purlins and rafters.

The RCC framed structures had deficiencies like ground floor left open for parking, culminating into a soft story behaviour, under reinforced for seismic resistivity. They summarized the need of extensive study in improving seismic resistivity of these structures on the following points, within traditional methods, and economical, beneficial effects of unreinforced, un-clamped infill walls in RCC framed structures, need to endow legal status to IS Code specifications. Yogendra Singh, Ratnesh Kumar, and Putul Haldar, Earthquake resistant design and construction practices in India 2013. The authors have examined the design and constructional practices in India. They conducted field survey in Delhi city, falling in seismic zone III and have recorded observation as, poor detailing of beam-column joints. The present OMRF and SMRF practices followed, with capping on the design period results in double or more design factor value. They conclude that though the BIS code provisions fall in line with worldwide codes they are not enforced in practice and detailing, which endanger the structure's performance during earthquake. Disaster Preparedness among the Resident Community- A Case Study of Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar, India 2012. A critical component of disaster preparedness is the knowledge of available local resource information and how-to response at the time of disaster. Impacts of natural disasters can be reduced through pre-disaster activities for mitigating risks and such activities are among the most crucial aspects of disaster risk reduction to consider in forming a coordinated strategy or plan. Mobilising resources raises the awareness level within the community and aids in assessing local knowledge and resources. This paper presents the results of a pilot study on awareness level among the different community of Rajiv Gandhi University which is located in one of the high seismic zones in the North eastern part of India.

The study concludes that disaster awareness among the community varies with the educational background, origin and age and the level can be strengthened through a combination of appropriate community-based disaster preparedness, information technology and collaborative relationships between government, Non-Government Organizations and community-based organisations. Fire Accidents in Buildings- Case Studies 2014. Fire accident in buildings is a threatening one now a day. These accidents create heavy lives and property losses. To find the reasons, frequency and giving protection to all type of buildings became challenges to the professionals. In this paper four case studies are presented, the reason for fire or ignition source, fire spread, reasons for lives losses, property losses, position of passive, active measures are analysed; few spot photos are also incorporated. Solutions are given for each case study buildings, the common needed solutions also given to avoid the accidents in future. Rahman N. (2014), states the threat of hazard has been increasing with the rapid growth of urbanization. Risk of hazard in urban area is more complex than rural area because of high population concentration and economic activities.

Vulnerability assessment of hazard has become a prime concern. The research also focuses assessment but also provides great scope to work with local people and involve them in mitigation of their vulnerability by themselves. Modh. S. (2010) argues disaster Management as a subject essentially deals with management of resources and information as far as a disastrous event is concerned and also how effectively and seamlessly one coordinates these resources. Disaster management, at the individual and organizational level, deals with issues of planning, coordinating, communication and risk management. It also highlights how disaster management would accomplish very little unless a broad spectrum of knowledge is imparted regarding effects of various types of disasters, their dimensions and characteristics, the role of United Nations in complex emergencies and the role of Indian government in prevention and control of disasters.


The study is organized into different chapters as follows:

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION: This chapter introduces with the main objectives of the study and the information about disasters and hazards and their types which can affect human societies and their livelihoods. The importance of community awareness is also highlighted in the chapter. It also clearly highlights the purpose of study.

CHAPTER II: STUDY AREA: It contains the characteristics of the study area covering physical, social and demographic features. Initially focusing in Delhi and then the area of Chattarpur with different maps.

Chapter III: EARTHQUAKE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT: This chapter consists of the assessment of earthquake vulnerability of the area surveyed. The analysis is done from the data collected through the primary survey. Various statistical methods and diagrams will be used for analysing the vulnerability level.

CHAPTER IV: FIRE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT: The chapter contains vulnerability assessment of fire through the findings of the survey which clearly depicts the various possible vulnerable areas in a household which a disaster can occur. This also depicts both the physical and socio-economic vulnerability through various statistical methods.

CHAPTER V: COMMUNITY AWARENESS AND PREPAREDNESS: This chapter highlights the level of community awareness in the society and preparedness towards a disaster with the choices they make and the working of government institutions towards sensitizing people. It also highlights the working of RWAs in societies in creating awareness.

CHAPTER VI: CONCLUSION: It includes what are the possible solutions towards the ongoing problems and also concludes the research by discussing the major findings of this research and their implications for disaster management in Chattarpur.


Cite this page

What Is Disaster?. (2021, Oct 31). Retrieved from http://envrexperts.com/free-essays/essay-about-what-disaster

What Is Disaster?
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7