Understanding disasters and disaster management
with special reference to Manipur
- Part 1 -

Laishram Sherjit Singh *

 Table no. 1. Vulnerability to Hazards (district wise) (Source: modified from Manipur State Disaster Management Plan Volume 1
Table no. 1. Vulnerability to Hazards (district wise) (Source: modified from Manipur State Disaster Management Plan Volume 1

A disaster is an extreme event, may be natural or man-made which brings loss of life property, essential services and means of livelihood to an extent which exceeds the ability of the affected people to cope using their own resources. A hazard may be regarded as a pre-disaster situation.

A hazardous situation turns into a disaster event when the affected community needs immediate assistance and support to deal with the situation. Disasters can be broadly classified as Natural disaster and man-made (anthropogenic) disasters. United Nations define natural disaster as – the occurrence of a sudden or major misfortune which disrupts the basic fabric and normal functioning of a society or community.

Man-made disaster may be defined as man-made events (sudden or progressive) causing an emergency situation that disrupt the normal pattern of life, affect people and impact on the social structures including economic damage. Disasters can also be classified as cataclysmic or rapid onset and long term or continuing based on duration of their occurrence.

Cataclysmic disasters take place in short duration i.e. one large scale event causes most of the damages and destruction but soon dissipates, for example- earthquakes. In continuing disaster, the event remains constant or may even deteriorate further, for examples- draught and environmental degradation.

Disaster management comprises mainly three stages- pre disaster stage (prevention, mitigation and preparedness phase), during disaster stage (response phase) and post disaster phase (recovery and development phase).

The different phases of disaster management are represented in the following diagram (fig. 2).

 Types of Disasters
 Fig. 2 Disaster management cycle (Source: Manual on Natural Disaster Management in India, NCDM, New Delhi)
 Fig. 3 Disaster Management plan at State level

Fig. 2 Disaster management cycle (Source: Manual on Natural Disaster Management in India, NCDM, New Delhi)
Fig. 3 Disaster Management plan at State level

Disaster response- action by which extra-ordinary measures are taken to support human needs and protect property after the occurrence of the disaster

Recovery- a process during which the community is assisted to restore normalcy on all fronts and move towards development overcoming the gaps created by disaster

Development- it is an ongoing activity which has to be resumed. It includes long term prevention/ disaster reduction measures. For example – construction of embankments to control flood

Disaster prevention- prevention is to ensure that human action or natural phenomenon do not result in disaster. It is focused on stopping the disaster from happening.

Mitigation- it refers to action taken in advance to reduce or eliminate the risk arising out of disasters.

Preparedness- measures to ensure the reaction and ability of society to forecast and take precautionary measures.

The following are some disasters which are vulnerable to our state. Let us discuss them briefly including their important sources, impacts and mitigative measures. Some selected case studies are also given for better understanding the impact of disasters.

FLOOD- Flood means inundation due to overflowing of a large volume of water. It may also be defined as the mass of water rising, swelling and overflowing land.

o Heavy precipitation
o Storm surge
o Inadequate drainage
o waterlogging

o loss of lives and property
o damage crops and agricultural land
o soil erosion
o siltation of fields

o modify the floods that involves the catchment and land use modification, physical control works such as reservoirs and embankments
o modify the susceptibility that includes flood forecasting, warning and flood plain management
o modify the loss burden inflicted by floods on the people including construction of reservoir and embankments

Case study: 2017 Flood of Manipur

2017 flood of Manipur affects many parts of the valley. Districts which are affected by this flood are-Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal, Bishenpur and Kackching. Number of household affected by this flood is estimated to be about 14000 (Media, IAG Manipur, 2017).

River bank breaching was reported from Bashikhong area, Imphal east and other parts of the state. Over 5000 people have taken shelters in various relief camps. Roads are damages in hilly districts like Kangpokpi and Litan area, Ukhrul district.

DRAUGHT; Draught is a general term implying a deficiency of precipitation of sufficient magnitude to interfere with some phase of the local economy (McGraw Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology).

o change in rainfall pattern or deficiency in monsoon rain
o change in land-use pattern
o large scale deforestation and climate change

o loss of crops and agricultural production that leads to famine
o loss of water for domestic, agricultural and industrial purpose
o hydroelectric power generation decreases
o change in settlement pattern

o watershed management
o check dams to store water
o proper selection of crops and modifying cropping pattern
o afforestation and reforestation
o control land use pattern

Case study: Manipur Draught 2019

Manipur government declared draught in 70 blocks of the state. Rainfall was more than 50% deficit in the state while reservoirs have more than 60% deficit level. As per initial estimates, villagers of these blocks had reported crop failure ranging from 33% to more than 50%.

The draught impacted severely in the valley although several hill blocks also affected. As a result government activated 157 lift irrigation schemes and purchased many water pump sets to help farmers for irrigation.

CYCLONE: The large whirling mass of air at the center of which atmospheric pressure is low is known as cyclone. Cyclones are characterized by inward spiralling winds that rotate about a zone of low pressure.

o It is caused by lifting of an air mass due to pressure difference. If the low pressure occurs in the area, the air will flow horizontally from the surrounding area causing the air in the low pressure to lift.

o Large causalities and considerable damage to life, property and agricultural crops
o Sometimes, cyclone brings heavy rain that causes flood
o Collapse of buildings, falling trees, flying debris, electrocution, aircraft accidents and disease from contaminated food and water.

o Early warning and forecasting
o Public awareness
o Relocating the people in safer place

EARTHQUAKE: An earthquake is a shaking of the earth’s crust due to breaking and shifting of rocks(faulting) beneath the earth’s surface. It may also define as the shaking of the earth’s surface resulting from a sudden release of energy in the earth’s lithosphere that creates seismic waves.

o Sudden movements along the faults (tectonic earthquakes)
o Volcanic eruptions (volcanic earthquakes)

o Building and Bridge collapse
o Change in underground water source
o Damage water and gas pipelines
o Death and damage due to collapse of infrastructure including buildings

o Aseismic design of building or retrofitting of buildings/ houses to reduce the vulnerability of the structures
o Proper land-use planning to avoid potentially high hazard zones
o Community preparedness through awareness and mutual assistance

To be continued....

* Laishram Sherjit Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer can be reached at sherjitlaishram(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on July 19 2020 .

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