What Is Disaster Management: Prevention and Mitigation (2023)

The 2021 Surfside condo collapse in Florida destroyed homes and lives. In the same year, unprecedented deluges flooded Germany and China, with tragic results. We cannot entirely avoid disasters, but we can prepare for and address them.

Prevention efforts and coordinated responses to disasters save lives and lessen their impact on communities. Professionals in disaster management play a crucial role in preventing suffering, protecting people’s livelihoods, and helping communities recover. What is disaster management? To answer the question, you should examine how these professionals deal with disaster — before, during, and after it strikes.

Defining Disaster Management

Disasters take many shapes. Human-made disasters result from human errors and include industrial explosions or structure failures. Natural disasters result from physical phenomena and include earthquakes and droughts. Disasters classified as complex can include epidemics or armed conflicts.

In whatever form, disasters disrupt communities and can take a serious toll on people, property, economies, and the environment. They often stretch a community’s capacity to cope.

Disaster management is a process of effectively preparing for and responding to disasters. It involves strategically organizing resources to lessen the harm that disasters cause. It also involves a systematic approach to managing the responsibilities of disaster prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Understanding Risks in Disaster Management

Often, issues such as a poorly maintained levee system or other negligence can worsen the outcome of a disaster. Such was the case when Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed New Orleans’ levees in 2005.

By addressing deferred infrastructure maintenance and other causal factors, governments and organizations can often prevent, or at least reduce, the fallout of disasters.

Disaster management involves examining and managing causal factors. It requires assessing the extent to which a community can withstand a disaster. Some communities are more vulnerable than others. For example, poorer communities have fewer resources to prepare themselves for a storm or bounce back from flood damage.

(Video) Dealing With Disaster (Prevention, Mitigation, Relief & Rehabilitation, Disaster Preparedness,)

Disaster management also involves analyzing exposure to loss. For example, homes built below sea level may face greater exposure to flooding if a hurricane hits them.

The Scope of Disaster Management

Disaster management has a broad scope. To understand what disaster management is, it is useful to study prevention, preparedness, and response and recovery.


Mitigation and prevention efforts aim to reduce the potential damage and suffering that disasters can cause. While disaster management cannot prevent disasters, it can prevent them from becoming compounded as a result of neglecting causal factors and manageable risks. Mitigation specifically refers to actions taken that can lessen the severity of a disaster’s impact. Investing in measures that limit hazards can greatly reduce the burden of disasters.

Strategies that disaster management professionals implement to protect vulnerable communities and limit hazards include the following:

  • Raising awareness about potential hazards and how to address them
  • Educating the public about how to properly prepare for different types of disaster
  • Installing and strengthening prediction and warning systems

Managing hazards and risks means planning to minimize a community’s vulnerability to disasters. This can involve:

  • Encouraging community members to buy appropriate insurance to protect their properties and belongings
  • Educating families and businesses on how to create effective disaster plans
  • Promoting the use of fire-retardant materials in construction
  • Advocating for capital works initiatives, such as the construction and maintenance of levees
  • Building partnerships between sectors and agencies at the federal, state, and local levels to collaborate on mitigation projects

Disaster management professionals working on mitigation efforts also focus on the following:

Land Use and Building Codes

Building schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods in flood-prone areas increases their exposure to disasters. Disaster management spotlights these risks and presents ideas to use land in safer ways.

For example, rather than constructing homes in floodplains, community planners can designate those areas as places for outdoor recreation, wildlife attractions, or hiking trails. They can also urge people to avoid these areas during flood season. These measures make residents and their homes less vulnerable to harm.

Additionally, mitigation efforts can do the following:

  • Address ways to engineer bridges to sustain earthquakes
  • Enforce building codes that safeguard buildings during hurricanes

Critical Infrastructure

Protecting critical infrastructure during a disaster can mean the difference between life and death. Critical infrastructure, which comprises the systems and assets vital to a community’s economy, security, and public health, deserves special attention as regards disaster management mitigation.

Setting up protective measures that limit damage to water and wastewater systems or nuclear plants, for example, can prevent serious repercussions.

(Video) Disaster Management Cycle: Mitigation - Preparedness - Response - Recovery....

As an example, Japan experienced devastating physical and psychological consequences after a 2011 earthquake triggered a tsunami. The inundation of water cut off the power supply to the cooling system for Fukushima Daiichi reactors, leading to a massive nuclear accident.


Well-coordinated responses to disasters require prior planning. This helps ensure fast, effective response efforts and limits duplicated efforts.

Disaster preparedness plans:

  • Identify organizational resources
  • Designate roles and responsibilities
  • Create procedures and policies
  • Organize activities that improve disaster readiness

Anticipating the needs of communities that disasters affect improves the quality of the response efforts. Building the capacities of volunteers, personnel, and disaster management teams to respond to disasters also makes the response efforts more effective.

Plans may include the following:

  • Emergency shelter sites
  • Evacuation routes
  • Emergency energy and water sources

They may also address:

  • Chains of command
  • Training programs
  • Communication procedures
  • Emergency supply distribution
  • Stockpile needs

Contingency Planning

Disaster readiness calls for contingency planning, advance decisions about managing human and monetary resources, coordinating procedures between different agencies, and organizing logistics.

Contingency plans answer three basic questions:

  • What will happen?
  • What will the response be?
  • What will be done ahead of time to prepare?

Response and Recovery

During and immediately after an emergency, disaster management focuses on delivering help and interventions that can save lives, safeguard health, and protect buildings, animals, and community property. Following an initial response, efforts shift toward supporting communities as they rebuild emotionally, economically, and physically.

Disaster Relief

Disaster relief addresses the immediate and short-term needs of disaster-affected communities. It can include evacuations, search and rescue missions, and emergency medical assistance.

Examples of disaster relief are:

(Video) Disaster Prevention and Mitigation

  • Setting up temporary shelters that provide a safe place to sleep, food, and emotional support from trained personnel
  • Delivering meals and water
  • Distributing emergency supplies and necessities, such as toiletries for hygiene and tarps, shovels, trash bags for cleanup efforts
  • Providing emergency health services, such as first aid for injuries and prescription medication replacements


Emergency management helps communities rebuild their lives after trauma. This involves longer-term efforts to restore:

  • Housing
  • Economies
  • Infrastructure systems
  • Individual and community health

Federal agencies and supporting organizations help communities with problem-solving and finding resources as they redevelop and revitalize.

Recovery assistance may include the following:

  • Unemployment assistance
  • Housing assistance
  • Legal services
  • Mental health counseling
  • Disaster case management

Protect Communities by Launching a Career in Disaster Management

What is disaster management? It is a comprehensive approach to preventing, preparing for, responding to, and aiding in emergency recovery efforts. Whether spearheading emergency management for human-made or natural disasters, professionals in the field play invaluable roles in saving lives and reducing suffering.

Explore what it takes to become an expert in disaster management by learning more about Tulane University’s Master of Public Health in Disaster Management.

Recommended Readings

Climate Change and Its Threat to Food Security

Health Inequality: Examining Public Health Disparities by ZIP Code

What Is Environmental Justice? An Introduction to Fair Treatment


AkitaBox, “4 Phases of Disaster Management Explained (The Easy Way)”

American Red Cross, Disaster Relief

Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance, Disaster Management Overview & Definitions


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Natural Disasters and Severe Weather

City of New Bedford, Disaster Mitigation

Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Incident Management System

IFRC, Contingency Planning

IFRC, Disaster Preparedness

Physiopedia, Disaster Management

Queensland Government, Disaster Management

Queensland Government, Preparedness Arrangements

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Emergency Management Directors

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Disaster Response and Recovery

U.S. Department of the Interior, Natural Disaster Response and Recovery

(Video) Unang Markahan: Modyul5- Disaster Prevention and Mitigation

World Vision, What Is Disaster Management?


What is disaster management prevention and mitigation? ›

Prevention is defined as regulatory and physical measures to ensure that emergencies are prevented, or their effects mitigated and mitigation is defined as measures taken in advance of a disaster aimed at decreasing or eliminating its impact on society and environment.

What is disaster management very short answer? ›

Disaster Management can be defined as the organization and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies, in particular, preparedness, response and recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters.

What is the example of disaster prevention and mitigation? ›

Examples of mitigation strategies include: hazard specific control activities such as flood levees or bushfire mitigation strategies. design improvements to infrastructure or services. land use planning and design decisions that avoid developments and community infrastructure in areas prone to hazards.

Why is disaster management important short answer? ›

Disaster management measures can help removing people and property from a threatened location by facilitating timely and effective rescue, relief and rehabilitation at the place of disaster thereby reducing loss of property, protecting people and reducing trauma among people.

How important is disaster prevention and mitigation? ›

Investment in disaster risk prevention and reduction enhances the economic, social, health and cultural resilience of people, communities, countries and their assets, as well as the environment.

How do you differentiate between disaster preparedness and disaster prevention and mitigation? ›

Preparedness refers to being prepared to respond to a disaster, whereas mitigation also seeks to either prevent the disaster or lessen its impact. Preparedness can only be enacted prior to a disaster, whereas mitigation can be implemented before a disaster starts or during the disaster.

What is disaster management essay? ›

Disaster management refers to the efficient management of resources and responsibilities that will help in lessening the impact of the disaster. It involves a well-planned plan of action so we can make effective efforts to reduce the dangers caused by the disaster to a minimum.

What is disaster management class 9 long answer? ›

Disaster Management refers to the measures taken for the safety and protection of life and property from natural or man-made disasters. This means being prepared for disasters, fighting disasters effectively, ensuring the safety of life during disasters and helping in rebuilding society after the disaster.

What do you mean by disaster in 100 words? ›

A disaster is a serious disruption, occurring over a relatively short time, of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental loss and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.

What is disaster management Full explain? ›

Disaster management is a process of effectively preparing for and responding to disasters. It involves strategically organizing resources to lessen the harm that disasters cause. It also involves a systematic approach to managing the responsibilities of disaster prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.

How important is disaster management? ›

Disaster management efforts aim to reduce or avoid the potential losses from hazards, assure prompt and appropriate assistance to the victims of a disaster, and achieve a rapid and effective recovery. It is crucial that hospitals remain safe and functional during and after disasters.

Why is it important for students to study about disaster management? ›

Disaster education aims to provide knowledge among individuals and groups to take actions to reduce their vulnerability to disasters. During the last decades, the issue that trained people can be prepared for disasters and responding well has been extensively investigated.

What is the importance of mitigation? ›

Mitigation creates safer communities by reducing losses of life and property. Mitigation enables individuals and communities to recover more rapidly from disasters. Mitigation lessens the financial impact of disasters on individuals, the Treasury, and state, local, and tribal communities.

Why is it important to create a mitigation plan? ›

Hazard mitigation plans are prepared and adopted by communities with the primary purpose of identifying, assessing, and reducing the long-term risk to life and property from hazard events. Effective mitigation planning can break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.

What do you understand by mitigation give some example? ›

Examples of mitigation actions are planning and zoning, floodplain protection, property acquisition and relocation, or public outreach projects. Examples of preparedness actions are installing disaster warning systems, purchasing radio communications equipment, or conducting emergency response training.

How can we mitigate prevent or reduce risk? ›

Let's talk about four different strategies to mitigate risk: avoid, accept, reduce/control, or transfer.
  1. Avoidance. If a risk presents an unwanted negative consequence, you may be able to completely avoid those consequences. ...
  2. Acceptance. ...
  3. Reduction or control. ...
  4. Transference. ...
  5. Summary of Risk Mitigation Strategies.

Which comes first mitigation or preparedness? ›

Mitigation activities take place before and after emergencies. operations. Evacuation plans and stocking food and water are both examples of preparedness. Preparedness activities take place before an emergency occurs.

What are the main elements of a disaster mitigation strategy briefly explain at least two? ›

Risk assessment and mitigation measures may include:
  • Hazard mapping.
  • Flood plain mapping.
  • Land use and zoning practices.
  • Implementing and enforcing appropriate building codes. Reinforced tornado safe rooms. Burying of electrical cables to prevent ice build-up. ...
  • Public awareness programs.
  • Insurance programs.

What are the 5 step preparation for disaster mitigation and preparedness? ›

Prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are the five steps of Emergency Management.

What is risk prevention and mitigation? ›

Prevention measures seek to eliminate the impact of hazards and/or reduce susceptibility to them. Mitigation measures accept that the event will occur and seek to reduce the inevitable impact . Key points to consider: Prevention aims to decrease or remove the negative consequences of hazards.

What is meant by disaster mitigation? ›

Disaster mitigation measures are those that eliminate or reduce the impacts and risks of hazards through proactive measures taken before an emergency or disaster occurs.

What are the 3 types of mitigation? ›

The types of mitigation enumerated by CEQ are compatible with the requirements of the Guidelines; however, as a practical matter, they can be combined to form three general types of mitigation: avoidance, minimization, and compensatory mitigation.

What are the 3 stages of mitigation? ›

Often phases of the cycle overlap and the length of each phase greatly depends on the severity of the disaster.
  • Mitigation - Minimizing the effects of disaster. ...
  • Preparedness - Planning how to respond. ...
  • Response - Efforts to minimize the hazards created by a disaster. ...
  • Recovery - Returning the community to normal.

What is mitigation in simple words? ›

Definition: Mitigation means reducing risk of loss from the occurrence of any undesirable event. This is an important element for any insurance business so as to avoid unnecessary losses. Description: In general, mitigation means to minimize degree of any loss or harm.

How can we mitigate prevent or reduce risk? ›

Let's talk about four different strategies to mitigate risk: avoid, accept, reduce/control, or transfer.
  1. Avoidance. If a risk presents an unwanted negative consequence, you may be able to completely avoid those consequences. ...
  2. Acceptance. ...
  3. Reduction or control. ...
  4. Transference. ...
  5. Summary of Risk Mitigation Strategies.

What is the importance of mitigation? ›

Mitigation creates safer communities by reducing losses of life and property. Mitigation enables individuals and communities to recover more rapidly from disasters. Mitigation lessens the financial impact of disasters on individuals, the Treasury, and state, local, and tribal communities.

What are mitigation steps? ›

The mitigation strategy is made up of three main required components: mitigation goals, mitigation actions, and an action plan for implementation. These provide the framework to identify, prioritize and implement actions to reduce risk to hazards.

What is mitigation risk? ›

Risk mitigation is the process of planning for disasters and having a way to lessen negative impacts. Although the principle of risk mitigation is to prepare a business for all potential risks, a proper risk mitigation plan will weigh the impact of each risk and prioritize planning around that impact.

What is good mitigation? ›

the reduction of crime (including by deterrence) reform and rehabilitation of offenders. protection of the public. making of reparation by offenders to persons affected by their offences.

What are the two types of mitigation? ›

The usual division of mitigation into two (2) categories -- (1) structural and (2) non-structural (Alexander 2002) -- is intended to denote the importance of integrated planning in mitigation; that is, the kind of planning which efficiently balances a combination of engineering solutions (like moving homes) with ...

What are the types of disasters? ›

  • Hurricanes and tropical storms.
  • Landslides & debris flow.
  • Thunderstorms and lighting.
  • Tornadoes.
  • Tsunamis.
  • Wildfire.
  • Winter and ice storms.
  • Sinkholes.

What are the 4 types of disaster? ›

Types of Disaster[edit | edit source]
  • Geophysical (e.g. Earthquakes, Landslides, Tsunamis and Volcanic Activity)
  • Hydrological (e.g. Avalanches and Floods)
  • Climatological (e.g. Extreme Temperatures, Drought and Wildfires)
  • Meteorological (e.g. Cyclones and Storms/Wave Surges)


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