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Hazard & Vulnerability Analysis and Mitigation & Prevention - Essay Example

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Emergency Management Plan (EMP) involves a cycle of six prominent phases: (1) Response, (2) Recovery (3) Mitigation (4) Risk Reduction, (5) Prevention and (6) Preparedness. These six phases often overlap each other (Wattegama 5). Any policy response with any one of these aspects, exclusively, may not lead us to desired results…
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Emergency Management Plan (EMP) involves a cycle of six prominent phases: (1) Response, (2) Recovery (3) Mitigation (4) Risk Reduction, (5) Prevention and (6) Preparedness. These six phases often overlap each other (Wattegama 5). Any policy response with any one of these aspects, exclusively, may not lead us to desired results. While efforts to address relief and recovery remain an ad hoc relief approach to address an emergency situation, a comprehensive plan designs for prevention, mitigation, risk reduction and preparedness can address the developmental aspects of an emergency management plan. On account of their interconnectedness, it can be stated that EMP is a holistic approach which links a disaster with development. As these different aspects of emergency management plan are robustly interlaced, mitigation as an isolated strategy, to deal with an emergency, is not comprehensible.
It refers to plan strategies and programs to eliminate or reduce the effects of a disaster, and consequently to prevent the loss of property, personal injury or death. Hence, any effort to minimize the impact of a disaster can be termed as mitigation. Mitigation phase necessarily involves hazard identification and vulnerability analysis. Alternatively, it can be stated that without hazard identification and vulnerability analysis, it is not possible to mitigate an impending disaster. Moreover, mitigation includes a response with a plan of action for disaster preparedness, and the consequent prevention and risk reduction.
Hazard Identification
Hazard identification requires preparation of a database of historical and archival information, analysis of the data, computer based simulations, preparation of a hazard map, and listing of all habitations and vital installations within a specific radius of the epicenter (Government of India 16). Some of the hazards include floods, storm, cyclone, earthquake, tsunami, volcanoes, fire, etc. Some geographical regions are more prone to a specific type of hazard than others.
Vulnerability Assessment
It involves defining the vulnerability of various elements and mapping of the habitations, property, installations, etc., which are likely to be affected by the possible disaster. Accuracy of vulnerability assessment depends on the availability of remote sensing, weather forecast and geographical information. For example, in the event of a hurricane, information on the origin and location of hurricane, direction and the speed of wind, the likely target shore region and habitations, etc., are important data to analyze the degree of vulnerability. In addition, it becomes important to consider the environmental aspects in assessing the vulnerability in a disaster (UNEP 4).
Preparedness is the readiness to react appropriately and effectively in the event of a disaster. Preparedness is an overarching system covering policies for immediate public safety and property security, mitigation strategies, type of risk reduction and prevention approaches, recovery methodologies to be undertaken, etc. Preparedness implies a mechanism is put in place to meet the emergency, so that system is ready with appropriate action, if and when an emergency occurs. The degree of preparedness depends on the identification of a hazard, and the severity of vulnerability, which is, again, the basis for a decision on mitigation strategy.
Disasters can be broadly clubbed into two categories: (a) gradual and (b) sudden. A disaster such as hurricane is a gradual one, and it provides ample time and scope for hazard identification, vulnerability - risk assessment, preparedness, mitigation and appropriate response. On the contrary, disasters such as earthquakes, major fires and explosions occur, suddenly. Preparedness for those disasters which strike without notice requires a systematic and well-designed plan with adequate human and capital resources to meet such eventualities. It may be emphasized that the different phases of emergency management plan are interconnected, for one cannot mitigate the disaster without addressing the other crucial phases, irrespective of whether a disaster is gradual or sudden.
Recovery continues till normalcy is achieved. Recovery phase comprises of both short term as well as long term tactics. The short-term recovery deals with restoration of vital facilities such as water, medicine, food, temporary housing, electricity, communication network, etc., Long-term recovery involves complete redevelopment of damaged area, and thus making the phase stretched over a longer period of time. Although recovery as a phase begins with providing vital life support systems with bare minimum requirements, there is no demarcation between short term and long term recovery efforts. Furthermore, recovery phase spreads over to mitigation efforts to avoid or prevent a future, but similar, disaster. One of the important aspects in the recovery phase is to identify and execute schemes to reduce the vulnerability of the society to better face a repeat of similar emergencies in the future. Thus, emergency phase includes mitigation efforts. Redevelopment is part of the recovery phase. Redevelopment or rebuilding refers to a complete replenishment of previous structures. Rebuilding efforts requires that the new structures to be rebuilt are free from similar future hazards, and that implies mitigation strategy to be adopted to reduce the impact of future disasters, and the ensuing prevention of loss of property, personal injury or death. Thus, redevelopment necessarily envelops the mitigation phase.
The interconnectedness between different phases of disaster management plan, as a cycle, underpins the fact that disasters, however foreseeable, can be managed through adequate hazard identification, vulnerability analysis, preparedness, mitigation, risk reduction, prevention, response and recovery. As these different aspects of emergency management plan are closely interwoven, mitigation as an isolated strategy, to deal with an emergency, is not feasible, even conceptually.
Government of India, Disaster Management - The Development Perspective, New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs, National Disaster Management Division, 2002.
UNEP, "Environmental Management and Disaster Reduction", World Conference on Disaster Reduction, Kobe, Japan: Concept Paper, 18-22 January, 2005.
Wattegama, Chanuka "ICT for Disaster Management", UNDP, Thailand: Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme, 2007. Read More
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