4 Strategies for Disaster Relief

By Jeff Palmer, CEO on August 3, 2017 | Print

As stated in a previous blog post, when most people think of responding to disasters, they typically think of relief work (e.g. handing out food, distributing water, providing shelter, etc.). While relief work is the most recognizable strategy after disasters occur, there are several strategies worth mentioning.

Disaster Relief Strategies:

  1. Disaster Relief – responding after a disaster event to meet lifeline needs such as food, water, shelter, medical care, etc.
  2. Disaster Mitigation – helping individuals, communities and organizations think through the risk and potential solutions to common disasters in their geographic area.
  3. Disaster Management – training and equipping local organizations and groups to become disaster responders themselves.
  4. Recovery and Rehabilitation – helping people return to their normal lives by assisting with housing, jobs, basic services, etc.

A disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of a society, causing widespread losses exceeding the ability of the community to cope, using only its own resources.

If left alone, people’s lives and livelihoods could be seriously threatened by the circumstances created. A disaster is not the normal annual floods or storms that the community has the capacity and resources to cope with. A disaster is really determined by the ability or inability of the affected community to cope with the event.

There are two main types/categories of disasters:

  1. Sudden Onset – These are hazards associated with things such as earthquakes, tsunamis, violent flooding, volcanoes, wildfires, landslides, fires, tropical storms, armed conflict, etc.
  2. Slow Onset – These are hazards associated with drought, famine, desertification, deforestation, environmental degradation, etc.

Of course, there are many more examples and there are several disasters that are a combination of the above such as a civil war in a country that turns into a multi-year, drawn-out conflict (e.g. Syria).

What are some common disasters that you have seen in your area? How would you classify them? Are there some other types of disasters not mentioned here that are more common to where you live?