|Trainee's Manual on Disaster Preparedness (European Commission Humanitarian Office, 59 p.)|
|Module III. Planning in the Handling of Disasters|
Framework & Rationale for Planning for Disasters
A. Disaster Management in Relation to Development
DEVELOPMENT may be defined as the process through which people move from high vulnerability/low capacity situation toward a lower vulnerability/higher capacity situation. In the traditional relief assistance approach, a disaster is seen as an interruption of development. Emergency rescue, relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction are undertaken as successive phases of disaster recovery designed to get things back to normal. However, when efforts are focused on returning to normal, there is a high probability that other disasters will strike (because capacities remain low and vulnerabilities high), and the cycle can be endless.
On the other hand, to limit disasters and their damage by supporting peoples capacities and helping them reduce their vulnerabilities, every development effort should contain elements of disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness designed to address local vulnerabilities. If a disaster then strikes, its impact will be greatly reduced and rescue, relief and reconstruction efforts will follow which also rely on and promote local capacities and take account of deeper disaster vulnerabilities.
B. Traditional Relief Approach vs. Developmental Relief Approach
Based on past disaster experiences, people in disaster areas have come, in recent years, to expect a rapid relief response from their own governments and from outsiders. In the traditional relief approach, the basic goal of outside aid donors is to alleviate immediate suffering and get things back to normal. While the goal of disaster victims and their governments is also to get past the immediate suffering which the disaster has cause, they frequently try to ensure that as much aid as possible is promised and delivered - as if this aid can provide a basis for greater security and wealth.
On the other hand, when an agency that wishes to help disaster victims considers the peoples capacities and vulnerabilities even as it begins to respond to a crisis, the picture becomes very different. This is the developmental approach. For example, from the very beginning when immediate needs are being assessed, the involvement of the local victims is seen as necessary. They are encouraged to enumerate what they have with which to rebuild after the disaster as well as to think about what inputs they need. They assume responsibility for deciding priorities about what is needed and determining the closest available source of supply. Experience also shows that even when outside aid is essential for disaster sufferers survival, these victims can be involved in all phases of decision-making and management of the assistance, thus, retaining and strengthening their own competence for future development.
C. Rationale in Planning for Disaster
PLANNING is based on the assumption that there is hazardous risk or risks and the consequence of an emergency involving such risks would be detrimental to the people, structures and the economy. Even when disasters cannot be prevented by the elimination of the physical phenomena or by the permanent removal of a population at risk. In almost all cases, the effects of disasters can be reduced through planning and mitigation measures. For those disaster which cannot be prevented, the disaster planning objectives should be to minimize loss of life, physical destruction and social disruption; to alleviate the suffering of people who experience such disasters; and to assist disaster-affected communities to return to normal as soon as possible.