Disaster management refers to the process of effectively preparing for and responding to disasters. Many Caribbean countries are at risk of various natural hazards such as hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. These hazards often cause disasters in various territories within the region. This highlights the need for effective disaster management.
The Disaster Management Cycle
The disaster management cycle refers to the process by which governments and other organizations reduce vulnerability to, plan for, react to and recover from the impacts of hazards. The steps in the disaster management cycle are:
Mitigation: This refers to steps which are taken in advance to reduce the potential impact of hazards. Mitigation measures include establishing building codes, land use management, zoning and warning systems.
Preparedness: This refers to steps taken to ensure that organizations, communities and individuals are ready to respond in the event of a disaster. This includes creating strategies and procedures to respond to disasters, public education and awareness campaigns and creating reserves of equipment, food and water for use in the event of a disaster.
Response: This refers to actions taken during and immediately after the disaster. They include search and rescue, emergency medical assistance, providing food and water to and setting up temporary shelters for affected people. Humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross and USAID often assist during this phase.
Recovery: This involves efforts after a disaster to restore housing, infrastructure, economies and other aspects of life to normal. Recovery efforts may also include counselling programs for affected individuals. International organizations such as the World Bank and governments of developed countries such as the USA often provide assistance in the recovery process.
A diagram showing the steps in the disaster management cycle is shown below.