Disaster management planning is an ongoing process that is carried out to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural as well as man-made disaster within a country (Howes et al., 2015). Disaster management planning encompasses risk reduction, integrated response and recovery. Reduction planning is, therefore, an essential component of an integrated disaster management plan. Over the past 40 years, there has been a shift in disaster management thinking away from focusing exclusively on disaster relief operations and towards a more comprehensive agenda of coordinating and advocating risk reduction and recovery. This has been in part a reaction to the rising costs of disaster response and also to the lack of action by many governments to reduce the risk of similar disasters being repeated in the future. The Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction (2015 -2030), which is a fifteen years’ voluntary agreement, intends to lessen the outcomes of disasters on lives and health of people (Shaw, Shiwaku,& Izumi, 2017).
This essay will critically evaluate the process of formulating and writing a national risk reduction plan. In doing so, the essay will discuss the relevant principles, operating procedures, associated protocols and policy domains that relate to the development of sustainable risk reduction as a key component of national resilience. The essay will make a comparison between two different national plans in terms of their strengths and weaknesses as well as how specific weaknesses identified could be addressed through the effective design and implementation of wider disaster training and exercising. Finally, the essay will conclude with the summary of challenges facing policymakers tasked with the development of national risk reduction. The word disaster and emergency have different literary meaning, however, in this paper, words disaster and emergency will be used interchangeably because both disaster and emergency put a lot of lives, livelihood and health at stake and requires immediate action to overcome it (Handmer& Dovers, 2012).
Process of Formulating and Writing a National Disaster Plan
Emergency planning is a process of identifying and minimizing the impact of, hazards that could occur causing damage to life, property and the environment in critical crises. Effective emergency plans should continuously be practiced and well progressed to ensure that they can work in any circumstances (Alexander, 2014). Wenger, Faupel and James (1980:134) argue“there is a tendency on the part of officials to see disaster planning as a product, not a process”. They view effective planning is built upon factors that are not recognized in documents. For instance, decision makers at the strategic level should have intangible factors like intellectual ability, knowledge about available resources in public and private sectors and ability to forecast demand during an emergency. However, both opinions are valid in which effective planning should be a process that goes into the assessment process and updating the plan. In addition, the plan should also be considered as a product where it is essential for decision-makers to be well trained and build their skills to identify demands during the risk reduction phase of planning.
The planning process of the emergency management plan internationally and within the country level is a major factor to determine the success of a risk reduction plan. In this process, risk reduction plan can be performed by using technology along with various activities of local as well as the international government agencies (Scolobig, Prior, Schröter, Jörin, and Patt, 2015). Moreover, communities along with the local government of the country are more likely to get engaged in the planning process for the disaster management. Towns and cities have an effective and efficient process to manage the risk that is caused due to past disaster event in their own local area. Therefore, towns and cities add value to the process of formulating an emergency plan along with the planners. For example, a study on local level authority and capacity for resilience were carried out in 2017 in a small Bangladesh village known as Shymnagar, which was hit by Aila that caused recurrent flooding following a collapse of a bridge. Later, the local families designed their houses using their local available resources after a comprehensive risk assessment within the community level, which was taken during that period of time (Hasan& Mukta, 2010).
The researchers Dynes, Quarantelli and Kreps are the first to present the guideline of the process of formulating an emergency plan in 1972. After 10 years, Quarantelli codified the emergency plan under the title“Principles of Disaster Planning”. Thereafter, other researchers like: Anderson and Mattingly, (1991); Lindell and Perry, (1992); Boin and Lagadec, (2000); Alexander, (2002, 2003) have expounded upon and extended the discussion. The planning procedure of disaster risk reduction is similar to any other planning process and formulating an emergency plan can be done through various procedures that could be followed as the primary disaster management plans within the country. Some of the most effective and common ways as follows:
Need for Policy:
When it comes to formulating and writing a strategic plan like disaster management plan, it is very important to include policy statements, which usually includes legislative authority, general purpose of the plan, in which circumstances the plan should be activated and whether the plan is going to be implemented for national, regional or local levels. For example, in 1988, a royal decree of the Sultanate of Oman (Decree No. 26/75) required the formation of an emergency committee that is authorized and responsible for formulating a national plan. Since then, the Sultanate has given much importance to organizing and enhancing disaster risk reduction and emergency management capabilities by forming the national committee for civil defence. Therefore, it is one of the counties who signed for the Sendai framework (Uniddr.org, n.d.). In addition, according to Pakistan’s Right Vision News, (Feb 23, 2013)-“The National Disaster Management Commission has approved the new Disaster Risk Reduction Policy and National Disaster Management Plan for the next 10 years based on the scintillating performance by the National Disaster Management Authority”. This shows that some countries started to implement disaster risk reduction policies.
Emergency management structure
The command system and communication among the emergency management personnel such as ministries, stakeholders, and operational responders should be well structured and clear. This will help to maintain effective communication and coordination between the emergency panels as well as to minimize bias and chaos during an emergency incident. According to Wilhite, Sivakumar, and Pulwarty, (2014), the primary key committees, who get involved in the disaster management process, are the cabinet committee of the security, the national crises committee and the top-level decision makers. In addition, it can be depicted that the state government will be carrying for the disaster management where the central government of the country is playing a vital role in maintaining disaster risk reduction. Therefore, the central agencies of the country will take part in disaster management only when they receive a request from the state government. It can be understood that different sectors of disaster management at the national level are controlled by the national disaster management authority, whereas the designated nodal ministries and other agencies of the government take part in the process. (Klijn, Kreibich, De Moel, and Penning-Rowsell, 2015). As a result, the country will be able to sustain and gain effective development within the process. The below diagram shows an example of disaster management structure:
Establish a planning team:
There must be a group in charge of formulating emergency plans, in order to be ready when required. Participation of each member of the planning team is mandatory for making improvements in the emergency plan. A mission statement needs to be issued to demonstrate the organization’s commitment towards emergency management. Creating a planning team along with a particular set of responsibilities is the most critical step required in the emergency planning (Walsh, 2005). Specifically, functional role and responsibility required by the planning team member to perform include damage assessment, evacuation, food and shelter, fire suppression, health services, hazardous spills, personnel and space reassignments, and public information (Porter, 2009). Thus, to cover the above mentioned functional areas, it is significant to have a team with similar skills to perform those responsibilities (Philpott& Casavant, 2016). In this regard, different functional areas required to be in a planning team include executive management, operation management, accounting, labor, human resource, Information Technology (IT), Engineering and maintenance facility, safety, health and environment, public information, security, legal, finance and purchasing, and warehousing (Kramer, 2009). In order for the team to be more efficient, it is important that every team member is aware of his or her duty and responsibility. (Owens, 2011).
One single organization or authority cannot determine all risk factors; in addition, it is hard to work by itself in the planning process. Therefore, the need for integrated stakeholders and collaboration between them is mandated. In fact, they play an essential part in the outcome of the risk assessment process. It can be seen that stakeholders within the country might be directly responsible for the reduction of disaster risk within the local community (Zaidi, and Pelling, 2015). Furthermore, stakeholders are directly affected by community risk as well as the measures that have been selected for the control of disaster. In addition, they also have information that is important for mapping of hazard or assessment of certain risks. It is noticeable that the first sets of stakeholders are primarily government officials. Government officials like geologist and engineers are the first stakeholders of a country (Aldunce, Beilin, Howden, and Handmer, 2015). The second stakeholders of the country are from research and academic institutes, which have the ability to provide technical expertise in terms of managing disaster risk within the community. There are other stakeholders such as the international NGO who generally provides the expertise along with the resources for the longest period in the terms of reducing the disaster risk in the country.
Identification of hazards:
The emergency planners should work hard to obtain information and identify the widespread hazard separately. Each hazard should then be approached separately because there is no one-model plan that serves every community effectively. However, identification of hazards helps in formulating suitable risk assessment,
- Risk analysis and assessment of local population and identification of vulnerability, type of environment economic status and existing culture:
UNDP defined Risk Assessment as“a process to determine the nature and extent of such risk, by analyzing hazards and evaluating existing conditions of vulnerability that together could potentially harm exposed people, property, services, livelihoods and the environment on which they depend”(Undp.org, n.d). In the assessment of risk for the disaster risk reduction plan, UNDP creates the most effective and the valuable working function within the field that is highly essential for the development of the process (Serrao-Neumann, Crick, Harman, Schuch, and Choy, 2015). In this case, the assessment is being performed with the help and support from the local government. This is to develop their activity and their working function within the field for the improvement of society and the community. It can be seen that the local capacities for the risk assessment are being carried out by UNDP to maintain the process and also to develop vital activity within the field of the disaster risk management plan (Linnerooth-Bayer, and Hochrainer-Stigler, 2015)
Risk Assessment Steps
Importance of Risk Reduction in Planning Process
According to Blaikie et al., (1994), Risk (disaster) in disaster management has been defined as“the cumulative impact of hazard and vulnerability”. Therefore, it was explained through this equation R=HV. In catastrophic disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, Pakistan earthquake of 2005 and Ketsana Typhoon of 2009 each community had different impacts. For example, the number of economic losses, building and infrastructure damage and the number of causalities that can be identified by the degree of exposure and vulnerability of each community. Governments and local municipalities determine their risks by working on their own risk assessment and evaluate it, as much as they know what to do to secure themselves and protect their infrastructure, facilities and properties. In fact, this is the risk reduction in which it will result in creating a stronger community resilient to disaster during the period of recovery.
In 2015, a successor for the Hyogo framework was signed in Japan and known as the Sendai agreement. This has now become the focus for disaster risk reduction for the next 15 years. Additionally, it is set in the context of what the United Nations describes as a combination of climate risk resource scarcity and drought ecosystem degradation livelihoods impoverishment demographic changes. Also, limited capacities to manage risks from natural technological and biological hazards including epidemic disease.
Develop the plan:
This step includes facilitating the core elements of emergency management such as communication, life safety, recovery and restoration and property protection. The team has to coordinate with other organizations to assist in the development of the emergency plan. It is essential to determine local and state requirements as well as incorporating those into procedures. Another duty of the planning team is to share certain sections with Government agencies for approval. In this phase, the structure of the emergency command system should be formed as an organization chart in terms of identifying hierarchies, formal relationships between the organization, collaboration and command structures. In addition, corresponding aid agreements that relate to the jurisdiction. Furthermore, early warning system should be taken into consideration during this period and communicated through different levels between governments, emergency-related agencies and community since they play a significant role in risk reduction and the response phase. As mentioned earlier, the disaster risk reduction plan process is similar to any other disaster plan process. As a result, response& recovery phase should be considered in the plan.
Simulation test and plan evaluation and updating:
According to Ford and Schmidt (2000); Simpson (2001); Alexander (2003), it is beneficial to experience and exercises the emergency practices because they provide a setting in which strategic and operational details in the plan may be critically examined. Furthermore, responder volunteers and community should be aware of the plan and involved in continued training programs. This step is about reviewing the plan from time to time. This needs to be done after each emergency. Moreover, the planning team should carefully analyze when procedures and changes should be made. Additionally, it assesses how much change is required to handle the next emergency effectively.
Key issues associated with the formulation of an emergency plan
- It is hard to determine the number of resources available for recovery
- Differences in views of team members
- Lack of financial resources to implement a plan
- It is hard to organize everything during the implementation of the plan
- Commitment is considered to be an issue with respect to exercising and performing the plan during an emergency.
- Lack of proper communication among team members can lead to a formulation of a poor emergency plan.
Comparison between Two National Risk Reduction Disaster Plans
In this section, the Ghana and Botswana risk reduction plans will be compared in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each in terms of risk reduction.
Strength and Weaknesses of Ghana National Risk Reduction Plan
The national risk reduction plan of Ghana includes wide ranges of natural and manmade disasters such as fire, epidemics, geological, war, and pollution of water bodies, oil spillage and others. Ghana’s vision focuses on reducing risk especially poor people from environmental, natural, and human-induced hazard through coordinating recourses of both government and non-government institutions. Their risk reduction plan is highly effective as they operate on mapping the hazards and identify the risks and plan accordingly. This helps in developing the capacity of communities and individuals on preparedness, recovery response and prevention from disasters. Also, the plan is divided into three phases and each phase takes different responsibilities during hazard situations for which all activities become easy to operate. The plan can be undertaken by every organization due to its simplicity.
The plan has specific training and education programs, which provide detailed information for awareness to help in identifying the vulnerability. It also prioritizes the training needs for volunteers. Moreover, the plan is getting support from lead agencies like the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Ghana Health Services (GHS), Ghana National Fire and Rescue Service (GNFS) and Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMET) and collaborating agencies like The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Town and country planning department (TCPD) and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMD) as in terms of funding for Implementation during different situations. It generally focuses on making emergency response organizations decision makers and public aware of disaster management issues. Therefore, involves political, economic, social and technological (PEST) analysis of the insect infestation disaster, disease epidemics, and fire disaster along with the geological disaster. Finally, the plan has the provision of protection and emergency shelter for victims during response phase and it includes providing accommodation benefits for victims such as resettlement, reconstruction and rehabilitation during the recovery phase.
Ghana’s risk reduction plan has some weaknesses, which need to be improved. Such as lack of communication and coordination among the organizations and stakeholders associated in the plan in which they may delay or slow the preparedness, respond and the recovery process. Also, Ghana is affected by various man-made disasters such as ethnic conflicts, war and pollution of water. The plan is unable to overcome the consequences of these disasters due to the unavailability of specific solutions. Ghana is unable to implement the plan effectively because it has a lack of strategic emergency budget and disaster management scheme and funds. Additionally, a lack of administrative support from the Ghanaian Government and the activities of the plan focuses more on post-disaster like a relief rather than attention on reduction of risk.
Strength and Weaknesses of Botswana National Risk Reduction Plan
National Disaster Risk Management Plan (NDRMP) of Botswana is prepared through consultations with various non-government stakeholders within the country, which has made it more efficient in comparison to other disaster plans. One of the most important strengths in the plan is the national policy on disaster management (1969) it is the key driving force for making this disaster plan, which gives the base for eliminating the impact of future disasters and chances of possible disasters. It also has good educational and awareness system among the people involved in disaster risk reduction and it is highly effective to enhance risk reduction plan and to implement an effective solution for all type of disaster. Furthermore, it is supported by Emergency Support System (ESS), primary agencies like district council, central transportation organization, department of wildfire& national park (DWNP) and Botswana defence force (BDF) for which the plan can be implemented smoothly in local areas. The plan integrates with the other plans of the country development and identifies clear facilities for risk reduction procedures. In addition, the government participates in various international agreements which allowed it to get quick and easy confirmation for implementing strategies. Finally, it has a clear plan for mobilization and distribution channels for resources needed during the preparedness and response phase.
Botswana’s national risk reduction plan is lacking education and awareness in the rural area in which they are prone to face various types of disaster. There is insufficient knowledge in disaster risk reduction and lack of regular risk analysis so the plan did not have an accurate procedure for reducing risk. The plan has poor integration between disaster risk reduction plan and emergency response management. Additionally, an absence of clear communication between the emergency management structure as well as the community because of conflict arises among members of the disaster management planning team. Moreover, emergency powers act in the plan does not contain specific guidelines to disaster management for which proper solutions cannot be implemented. It also faces major challenges due to a lack of clear legislation on disaster management. The plan shows a huge gap between the objective and application of the disaster management plan for which it may not get appreciation from government and private organizations.
Discussion between Strength and Weakness of Ghana and Botswana Plans
Disaster management plan of Ghana has three phases and each phase has different responsibilities to handle disasters, whereas disaster management plan of Botswana has no such phases. It has become easier for Ghana to tackle the challenges of disasters as it tries to manage the disasters at a different level. In addition, the plan of Ghana mainly highlights hazard mapping as well as training aspects to create public awareness. However, the disaster plan of Botswana is focused on outlining structures for coordinating and organizing disaster risk management functions. The disaster management plan of Ghana has a proper mission and vision to handle natural, environmental and human induced hazards (Oteng-Ababio, 2013). The sole objective of this plan is to create well-coordinated programming framework incorporating non-Governmental organizations, Government departments and private sectors, whereas the objective of the disaster management plan of Botswana is to establish a set of working definitions for important components of disaster risk management. Risk reduction of the disaster management plan by Ghana involves ranking of different risk on the priority basis and addressing those risks through determining effective actions for eliminating those risks. However, risk reduction of Botswana’s disaster management plan does not focus on setting priority for different risks. Rather, it faces each risk as per its influence on communities.
Arguments on Weakness identified could address through effective design and implementation of wider disaster training and exercise
“Planning and training must be continual processes in order to establish and maintain emergency preparedness (Daines, 1991; Buckle et al., 2000). It is highly important to make explicit relationships to examine the preparedness of the emergency planning process, which is done by testing the elements and the products of the plan. Also, plan documents should include background about the nature of training; exercising and how frequent it should be done. As mentioned earlier, plans should be written and well-practiced to ensure their reliability and preparedness. This will help to avoid false confidence since they will be practiced and tested before any emergency.
The government role is to ensure that all organizations are well prepared to face any type of the emergency situation. Additionally, to test the elements and products of their plans in which they can identify if the organization is prepared or not. Therefore, organizations should raise awareness about their emergency plan to build trust and confidence in key staff emergency participants as well as including training sessions to build and test the abilities, capabilities and skills of the staff who take part of an overall emergency plan. Staff who are involved in any emergency plan, they play a fundamental role in the organization’s ability to survive and handle all expected types of emergencies.
Training will develop a sustainable competitive advantage for the organizations, which will eventually give a positive outcome to the overall emergency plan.
There are 2 broad types of training, which organizations should consider:
- Emergency Preparedness: providing a training session for key staff participants in risk reduction assessment, business continuity management (BCM) and emergency plan.
- Emergency response: providing a training session for the staff to respond effectively in an emergency situation.
Both disaster risk management plans of Ghana and Botswana have weaknesses, which need to be overcome by proper implementation of training and exercise. The training should cover all elements of the plan. The training should also be implemented effectively to overcome gaps and develop the areas which need to be improved to prevent fatalities, injuries, as well as to reduce damage to buildings, stock, and equipment. As a result, this will maintain the overall reputation during any emergency situations.
According to Ghana’s Disaster risk reduction plan, there are areas for improvement, which needs to be resolved in the plan to assure an effective disaster plan. That can be done in various ways. One of them is by exercising the plan. For example poor coordination between team members of the plan, can be improved by training exercises such as seminars, workshops or tabletop exercise that will help to identify the gaps in the coordination system among them .in addition this training in a way get them to integrate and understand each other in terms of vision, mission, roles and responsibilities.
As mentioned earlier Ghana has no specific solution for mitigating the risk of man-made disaster, though there is no specific solution for manmade disasters, still training and exercises can help everyone to take some control measures immediately to deal with immediate problems occurred from such disasters (Paton and Johnston, 2017). Training can alert the planners and stakeholders about the consequences. Due to this they will be able to prepare and analyze the risk and face the incident with minimal loss.
One of the biggest challenges in disaster risk reduction plan or planning, in general, is funding, Ghana’s plan also faces this challenge in which it makes the plan, not effective Seminars and workshops can include training programs, which present the plan and persuade the stakeholders and agencies to provide strategic stock and funds and that will enhance the public and private partnership. In risk reduction exercise Ghana will be able to identify the importance of risk reduction existence in their national disaster plan additionally which will be implemented by issuing policies and agreement to support the plan. As mentioned earlier Ghana’s national plan lack proper search and rescue mechanism, training and exercise for example drills and full-scale exercise. These types of exercises are beneficial to test various things such as logistics, communications and physical capabilities. Participants will be able to improve their skills and develop their confidence, in which they will experience the planned procedure as a real emergency event.
Botswana had a major weakness, which needs to be improved by following a structured improvement plan. For instance, people in Botswana have a lack of knowledge about various disasters that can take place and affect them. This weakness needs to be overcome by the country due to negative outcomes, as the people are unaware of the steps to be taken as precautions to reduce the risks of the disaster. Such weaknesses can be resolved by providing exercise sessions to people and train them on various disasters that can affect them. Additionally, identify effective ways on how to protect them and take necessary measures in case of an emergency.
Opportunity and challenges for the development of national risk reduction plan
In the process of formulation of risk reduction strategy, policymakers, officials have to experience various challenges at local as well as national level, which is associated with issues of integration, ownership and coordination. However, there are certain opportunities, which are also experienced on their part in the process of developing a risk reduction strategy (Conway,& Schipper, 2011). Furthermore, formulating a risk reduction plans and strategies with the help of active participation of vulnerable communities of the society act as a contributing factor in the identification of local hazards. Based on this identified local hazards, development activities and strategies can be formulated which is in accordance with local preference (Gaillard& Mercer, 2013). Hence effective in the implementation of these activities at the local level helps successfully in dealing with hazards at the national level as well. With the help of effective community participation in the process of formulating and implementing these plans helps in ascertaining ownership that result in contributing to its sustainability (Elliott, 2012).
Disaster risk reduction plan aims to minimize damages which are caused by both Man-made and natural disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, floods and droughts. This assignment discussed multiple sides of disaster risk reduction in plan and referred to different researchers. It has also elaborated on the process of writing and formulating a national disaster plan in which it was explained in seven steps to build an effective plan. Furthermore, it discussed the importance of having a structured risk reduction plan within countries and organizations. Additionally, addressed key issues, which may result if a risk reduction plan is not implemented. This assignment highlighted two national risk reduction plans of two different countries as Ghana and Botswana. The comparison was successfully discussed by identifying their strength and weakness regarding their plans. Finally, developed ways to overcome obstacles and weakness in both plans. Also mentioned major challenges faced and opportunities to seek when formulating a risk reduction plan.