Disaster response consists of a number of elements - warning and evacuation, search and rescue, providing immediate assistance, assessing damage, continuing assistance and the immediate restoration of infrastructure. The development agencies, local and international, that focus on emergency response and provide immediate assistance to maintain life, improve health and support the morale of the affected population are listed in this category.
Disaster response aims to reduce, or avoid, potential losses from hazards, assure prompt and appropriate assistance to victims of disaster, and achieve rapid and effective recovery.
In Zambia, it is the Zambia Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) that is mandated by the government to handle disasters in the country. However, various organisations have come on board to help the government. These organisations provide a wide selection of disaster response measures including disaster preparedness and relief, as well as humanitarian aid.
Here on Infobwana, you will find organisations that plan for and reduce the impact of disasters, react during and immediately following a disaster, and take steps to help in the recovery process after a disaster has occurred.
These bodies take appropriate actions for greater preparedness, to give better warnings, to reduce vulnerability and to prevent disasters. They do this by developing plans that either modify the causes of disasters or mitigate their effects on people, property and infrastructure.
Mitigation – these are activities that eliminate or reduce the probability of disaster occurrence, or reduce the effects of unavoidable disasters. Mitigation measures include building codes enforcement; vulnerability analyses updates; zoning and land use management; enforcement of building use regulations and safety codes; preventive health care; and public education.
Preparedness - the goal here is to achieve a satisfactory level of readiness to respond to any emergency situation through programmes that strengthen the technical and managerial capacity of governments, organisations and communities. These measures can be described as logistical readiness to deal with disasters and can be enhanced by having response mechanisms and procedures, rehearsals, long-term and short-term strategies, public education programmes and early warning systems. Preparedness can also take the form of ensuring that strategic reserves of food, equipment, water, medicines and other essentials are maintained in cases of national or local catastrophes.
Humanitarian action - during a disaster, organisations that provide humanitarian aid are often called upon to deal with immediate response and recovery. To be able to respond effectively, these agencies must have experienced leaders, trained personnel, adequate transport and logistic support, appropriate communications, and guidelines for working in emergencies. If the necessary preparations have not been made, the humanitarian agencies will not be able to meet the immediate needs of the people.
Response – the aim here is to provide immediate assistance to maintain life, improve health and support the morale of the affected people. Such assistance may range from providing specific but limited aid, such as assisting refugees with transport, temporary shelter, and food, to establishing a semi-permanent settlements in camps and other locations. It also may involve initial repairs to damaged infrastructure. The focus is on meeting the basic needs of the people until more permanent and sustainable solutions can be found. Humanitarian organisations are often strongly present in this phase of the disaster management cycle.
Recovery - as the disaster is brought under control, the affected population is capable of undertaking a growing number of activities aimed at restoring their lives and the infrastructure that supports them. There is no specific point at which immediate relief changes into recovery and then into long-term sustainable development. There will be many opportunities during the recovery period to enhance prevention and increase preparedness, thus reducing vulnerability. Ideally, there should be a smooth transition from recovery to ongoing development.