Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Disaster management
Flood of opportunities

India being a nation where natural calamities strike every now and then, the need for trained disaster management professionals is felt acutely, especially in the wake of the tsunami, writes Sunit Dhawan

Natural disasters take a heavy toll of human life and property year after year. The United Nations estimates that in the past two decades, nearly three million lives have been lost to natural disasters and some 800 million affected by them. Every year, at least four cyclones of varying intensity hit parts of India's nearly 6,000-km-long coastline. Besides, earthquakes of varying magnitudes rock northern India.

Since natural calamities tend to be unavoidable and unpredictable, efforts have to be made to withstand them. Disaster management education is an endeavour to understand the implications of disasters, their control and management. The support of trained personnel is required to provide the information and knowledge to forewarn us of impending calamities.

Growing relevance

Disaster management training is useful for NGOs, social work students or volunteers providing support and rehabilitation measures during disasters. It is also beneficial for the Home Guard personnel, paramilitary organisations, civil defence personnel, scientists, meteorologists and environmentalists. It proves useful for functionaries of rural development and primary health centres, administrative services and relief workers.

Thrust areas

The emerging thrust areas in the discipline of disaster management include emergency planning and management, risk and business continuity management, risk assessment, health and safety, relief and developmental engineering and management, health management and rehabilitation.

Course content

The disaster management course covers topics like risk assessment and preventive strategies, legislative structures for control of disasters, disaster preparedness, disaster communication, measures for disaster mitigation, application of GIS in disaster management, rescue and resuscitation. Specialisation can be done in the fields of mining, chemical disasters, and technical disasters etc.

Study programmes

Most educational centres running study programmes offer short-term certificate or diploma courses in disaster management. However, some universities also offer Masterís or MBA programmes in disaster management. Recently, the CBSE has included disaster management in its curriculum to make students well-versed in various implications of disaster management at an early age. One can pursue training in disaster management after plus two also. Courses are available through both regular courses and distance learning mode.

Where to study

The students interested inpursuing these courses can contact the National Center for Disaster Management, Indraprasth Estate, Ring Road, New Delhi, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, Disaster Management Institute, Paryavaran Parisar, Arera Colony, Bhopal, Centre for Disaster Management, Pune, Sikkim Manipal University of Health, Medical and Technological Sciences, Tadong, Gangtok, IASE (deemed university), Sardarshahr (Churu), National Civil Defence College, Nagpur, and Environment Protection Training and Research Institute, Hyderabad.

Career options

Openings are mainly found in some government and non-government agencies. Insurance companies, large industrial establishments, particularly those in the high-risk fields like chemicals, mining, and petroleum have disaster management cells. The International Red Cross and some UN organisations also empanel trained professionals for working on humanitarian missions to handle major calamities and emergencies.


Several graduates set up there own companies after gaining some experience by working with established organisations or sometimes, immediately upon graduating. Disaster management graduates can run successful consultancies in emergency planning, risk management and flood risk reduction.