Lesson 5: Disaster Management

Student activity instructions:

  1. First go through the module "Disaster Management Cycle: Response and Recovery". This teaches you some of the key concepts and issues in response and recovery.
  2. Now, look at the "ALNAP Tsunami Evaluation Coalition Synthesis Report Executive Summary". Identify the key challenges and issues were experienced by aid agencies in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami disaster.
  3. Post your thoughts on the discussion forum.
  4. Finally, prepare your written assignment for submission. An example of a good (but not perfect) assignment from a former student shows ("Model student assignment").

Recommended resources: 

The terminology of disaster management is a bit confusing. Let’s take a look at some of the basic terminology (see ReliefWeb Glossary at the books ad journals section on the main site): Humanitarian aid/assistance is an umbrella term for all activities "to save lives and alleviate suffering of a crisis-affected population". Disaster Response is "sum of decisions and actions taken during and after disaster, including immediate relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction (UN DHA)". Disaster Management is defined as the "comprehensive approach and activities to reduce the adverse impacts of disasters (UN DHA)". Therefore, disaster response is planned and delivered through disaster management activities.

Relief is the "assistance and/or intervention during or after disaster to meet the life preservation and basic subsistence needs. It can be of emergency or protracted duration (UN DHA)". So, basically in order to provide relief, disaster response activities are planned and implemented through disaster management work.

Emergency relief is the "immediate survival assistance to the victims of crisis and violent conflict (UNHCR)", which should be followed by recovery and rehabilitation assistance. After that stage the 'development' assistance could be required, depending on the situation, which is out of the scope of this module. Medical relief refers to healthcare and other medical support activities.

But do bear in mind that these terms can be used interchangeably in some resources.

a) Responding to disasters: On this International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies website, from the scroll down menu: The elements of disaster response: search, rescue, and evacuation, emergency needs assessment, services for the disaster affected, logistics pages cover all types of response activities following a disaster.http://www.ifrc.org/what/disasters/responding/index.asp

b) Responding to earthquakes: The lessons papers from ALNAP, distillation of the learning from decades of humanitarian response to earthquakes and floods.  http://www.alnap.org/publications/pdfs/ALNAPLessonsEarthquakes.pdf and http://www.alnap.org/publications/pdfs/ALNAP-ProVention_flood_lessons.pdf

c) Sphere Project: common standards-response: The Sphere Project identified minimum standards for disaster assistance. This section covers the standards relevant to response activities.

d) NGO Evaluation of Activities in the Asian Tsunami – Mashni et al provide a report on the response to the Asian Tsunami for CARE International and World Vision – pages 57-62 shows the value of this type of evaluation, where they offer opportunities for improvement in future responses.


And the agencies and principles.

International humanitarian assistance http://www.paho.org/english/Ped/SP575/SP575_13.pdf and External agencies providing health humanitarian assistance http://www.paho.org/english/Ped/SP575/SP575_anx4.pdf This Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) document summarises the agencies providing outside humanitarian assistance in emergencies and explains briefly how to obtain and coordinate international disaster relief.

Additional reading:

Epidemiological surveillance and disease control http://www.paho.org/english/Ped/SP575/SP575_07.pdf In natural disasters context the chapter lists the reasons for increased risk of preventable diseases and the chapter goes into describing how to set up a surveillance system and to deal with infectious diseases.

Changing needs and priorities following earthquakes and floods http://www.paho.org/english/Ped/SP575/SP575_05.pdf (pp 33-34) Figures 5.3 and 5.4 displays the need for various types of aid in the first 10 days of a disaster.

Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) http://web.archive.org/web/20091101120758/http://www.alnap.org/resources/guides/training/manual.aspx (pp 50-52) 'An introduction to evaluation of humanitarian action' is a comprehensive manual which details how to conduct an effective evaluation of the humanitarian action. The section is on the objectives and principles of humanitarian aid, as endorsed by 16 countries and the European Commission.

Role of NGOs in disasters-presentation http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/lecture/lec20621/index.htm This presentation describes the NGOs and summarises their role in disaster health management.

What is International Humanitarian Law http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/humanitarian-law-factsheet/$File/What_is_IHL.pdf International humanitarian law applies only to the armed conflict and is a set of rules aiming to limit the effects of armed conflict. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) works around the world providing assistance to people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence with a mission of guarding and promoting the international humanitarian law.

Humanitarian Supply Management System (SUMA) http://www.paho.org/english/Ped/SP575/SP575_anx2.pdf The Pan American Health Organisation initiated a supply management system (SUMA) software to strengthen national capacity to effectively manage humanitarian assistance supplies, from the moment donors commit to sending supplies, to the arrival and distribution of supplies at the site of a disaster. The document describes the system briefly.

Health Action in Crises(HAC) -WHO's role when preparing for and responding to health aspects of crises http://www.who.int/hac/about/faqs/en/index.html WHO has a strategic role in disasters; through its HAC programme it aims to help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies, disasters and crises. The 'frequently asked questions' section answers the questions you might have on this programme.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) - Mission statement http://ochaonline.un.org/AboutOCHA/tabid/1076/Default.aspx OCHA's mission is to mobilise and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action. One important work of OCHA is to gather, analyse and disseminate information from the field to key stakeholders. The 'frequently asked questions' section seems to cover the possible questions in mind.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) http://www.ifrc.org/what/disasters/index.asp?navid=04_03 The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is the world's largest humanitarian organization; this website gives an overall picture of the activities. The Federation, together with National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), make up the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement which is the world's largest humanitarian network.

European Commission Humanitarian Aid (DG ECHO) http://web.archive.org/web/20130718150210/http://ec.europa.eu/echo/policies/strategy_en.htm ('Strategic methodologies' section) The European Commission’s provides humanitarian aid through its DG ECHO. It has developed tools to identify those countries that are home to the people who ought to be priority beneficiaries of DG ECHO assistance. You can have a look at the 'Global Needs Assessment' and 'Forgotten Crisis Assessment' examples are published on the web page.

Last modified: Wednesday, 22 December 2021, 5:27 AM