Posts Tagged With: Natural Disasters and Hazards

Disaster Mitigation

We have seen before that disaster mitigation is the action or steps taken to reduce the impact of disasters.

Mitigasi Banjir

We may still remember about floods occurred in Jakarta-Indonesia in early 2013. Water flooded into several Jakarta neighborhoods, even the city center and Presidential Palace complex. Torrential rain has caused West flood canal dike collapse and river overflowed. According to experts, flooding should not occur due to high rainfall intensity. Learned from this experience, the governor of DKI Jakarta has declared and committed to making a “breakthrough” in efforts to tackle the flooding. Actions and commitments which have been taken by the governor of DKI Jakarta called disaster mitigation or we can called as a prevention as well (the terms prevention and mitigation are sometimes used interchangeably in casual cases).

From the above example with the amount of losses, we can see that the mitigation is essential to be done by all respective parties.

Disaster mitigation measures maybe structural (for example: flood dike) and/or non-structural (for example: land use zoning).

Here are some examples of structural disaster mitigation (the terms prevention and mitigation are sometimes used interchangeably in this case because the complete avoidance of losses is not feasible and the task transforms to that of mitigation) :

  1. Disaster mitigation for floods includes building flood dikes, infiltration wells, revitalization of the drainage system, river normalization, etc.
  2. Disaster mitigation for landslides includes make a surface trench in the ground, concrete diaphragm walls, soil anchors, ground improvement, etc.
  3. Disaster mitigation for earthquake includes designing earthquake resistant structures, seismic evaluation of building and its component, improving earthquake resistance of existing buildings and infrastructure facilities, etc.
  4. Disaster mitigation for drought includes building dams and their associated reservoirs supply additional water in terms of drought, desalination of sea water for irrigation, building canals or redirecting rivers as attempt at irrigation in drought-prone areas.

Here are some examples of structural disaster mitigation (the terms prevention and mitigation are sometimes used interchangeably in this case because the complete avoidance of losses is not feasible and the task transforms to that of mitigation) :

  1. Disaster risks and/or hazard mapping.
  2. Enforcement of land use and zoning practices.
  3. Disasters mitigation public awareness programs.
  4. Developing national data on medical resources, etc.
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What is Disaster Management ?

Having seen examples of disasters in the previous, then we will think: what to do when disaster occurs? We all know that disaster resulted in losses to anyone who experienced it. Disaster can also cause prolonged trauma. What should we do to response and cope with disasters?

Sedia payung

Proverb said provides umbrella before it rains. Umbrella which must be provided should be based on the needs, for example: for very heavy rain with strong winds, we would choose to use an umbrella large enough so we will not wet and umbrella will not folded up because of the wind.

The above proverb is very suitable if we use in disaster management. We know that disasters could be caused by natural factors, non-natural and human factors, now we have to determine “what type or size and color” of umbrella that we are going to use when disaster struck.

Based on the thoughts as above and lessons learnt from previous disastrous experience, then we arrived at what is called Disaster Management.  At first, there are three things in the disaster management, namely preparedness, response and recovery to reduce the impacts of disaster. In its development, the stage of preparedness is broadly divided into mitigation, risk reduction and prevention.

Here we see the outline of what is meant by:

Disaster Management: procedure / discipline conducted and managed through a systematic process for dealing with disasters and lessen the impacts of disaster as well as how to be able to continue life after the disaster.

Mitigation: actions or steps to be taken to reduce the impacts of disaster.

Prevention: how to avoid hazards and related disaster.

Risk Reduction: a systematic way to reduce the risks of disaster especially when disaster struck based on the disaster risks and risk assessment.  

Preparedness: readiness or capacities of government, organizations / professional institutions, communities and individuals in anticipation of possible disasters, to respond when it occurs and how to effectively recover from disaster.

Response: the provision of assistance and services during or immediately after disaster with a primary goal to save lives, reduce the impact of the diseases or health-related, providing health services and providing basic needs required by the affected people/communities.

Recovery: actions or steps taken to improve the condition of the affected people/communities and to make efforts to reduce disaster risk factors.

Going forward we will discuss further about disaster management.

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What is Disaster ?

The following are some definitions of a disaster that can be used as a reference:

  1. A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources (The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction – UNISDR)
  2. Event or series of events that threaten and disrupt the lives and livelihoods caused by both natural factors and / or non-natural factors and human factors that lead to the emergence of human casualties, environmental damage, loss of property, and the psychological impact (Indonesian Law Number 24 Year 2007)
  3. Exceptional events which suddenly kill or injure large number of people (Red Cross/Red Crescent).
  4. An overwhelming ecological disruption occurring on a scale sufficient to require outside assistance (PAHO 1980).
  5. A situation or event which overwhelms local capacity, necessitating a request to a national or international level for external assistance (The Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster – CRED).
  6. An occurrence that causes damage, ecological disruption, loss of human life, deterioration of health and health services on a scale sufficient to warrant an extraordinary response from outside the affected community area (World Health Organization, 1998).


From the above definitions, we can see that in general the disaster is an extraordinary event and require external assistance. The disaster could be caused by natural factors, non-natural and human factors.

Below are the examples of disaster events:

1. Natural Disaster

  • Weather-related: floods, landslides/mudslides, windstorms, tornadoes, thunderstorms, winter storms, droughts, forest fires, etc.
  • Geophysical-related: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, tidal waves.

2. Man-made Disaster

  • Non-intentional: transportation accidents (road/sea/air), fires, building/bridge collapse, etc.
  • Intentional: race/ethnic conflict, terrorism, civil war, etc.

3. Non-natural Disaster: epidemic, diseases, radiation, etc.

From the above examples, we can see that there are disasters in small-scale, medium-scale, large-scale or an extraordinary event such as epidemic.


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