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Disaster Management In South East Asia Essay

5460 words - 22 pages


Disaster Management in South-east Asia
Udai Bhanu Singh *

According to the International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences:

South-east Asia is the epicentre of frequent disasters of varying intensity. The damage to life and property caused by these disasters is comparable to that caused by war. Disasters disrupt the national economy and social development. Besides, the world has shrunk and news about the hardship suffered by the people is rapidly disseminated. As such, the management of disasters has become a key concern of governments confronted with an increasingly aware civil society and a shorter reaction time. Often when disaster strikes, it impacts more than one ...view middle of the document...

* Dr Udai Bhanu Singh is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi.

Vol. 6 No. 1 January 2012


Udai Bhanu Singh

Conceptual Paradigm of Disaster Management “A stitch in time saves nine” applies aptly to disaster management. Disaster management cannot be only reactive and centred essentially on post-disaster relief and rehabilitation. Such an approach proves to be more expensive. A holistic response involves an appropriate approach towards: 1) Pre-disaster phase: Prevention/Mitigation/Preparedness. 2) Post-disaster phase: Comprehensive response encompassing rescue, relief, rehabilitation, and recovery.

Disaster relief till recently was equated with fire fighting and the scale of the tragedy in the disasters has also been unusually high primarily because: (a) Long-term and comprehensive institutional arrangements to address disaster issues have not been put in place. (b) Lack of emphasis on preventive and sustainable intervention. (c) Inadequate involvement of the local community.

These are problems faced at the national level. At the regional level, the problem is further compounded due to adherence to principles such as non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. However, a large number of initiatives have been undertaken at the regional level to establish coordination mechanisms and integrated disaster reduction measures, while improving information sharing and management. At the international level, although the experience is certainly more diverse and longstanding, the attempts to generalise and duplicate experiences elsewhere without due regard to local conditions and susceptibilities have the danger of backfiring.2

Maslow’s theory of human motivation and the concept of a “hierarchy of human needs” provides some parameters for rendering relief. The “physiological” (food and water) is considered the most basic human need. Next is “safety”, personal security and a sense of familiarity, including shelter. The management of disasters requires that throughout the disaster risk management cycle (i.e., the predisaster and post-disaster phases) adequate attention is paid to the following: (a) Institutional Framework for managing disasters; (b) Legal Framework for managing disasters; and (c) Financial Framework for managing disasters. These
Journal of Defence Studies

Disaster Management in South-east Asia

steps have to be taken with a view to ensure appropriate and effective policy formulation and planning and for evolving best practices for the role of armed forces in disaster management. Some Recent Disaster Events in Southeast Asia

South-east Asia experiences frequent earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, floods, and other disasters of varying intensity. The states in the region are, however, at varying levels of economic development and capacity (for instance, Myanmar is yet a less developed country) which tend to limit their disaster...

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