By Albert Makendenge

Disaster management is a process of effectively preparing for and responding to disasters. It is all in how people deal with human, material, economic or environmental impacts of a disaster. Disasters are inevitable and are almost always happen in every aspect of life, business or industry. The agricultural sector, in particular, is extremely exposed and highly vulnerable to natural disasters and impacts of climate change and therefore it is necessary to have carefully laid out disaster management plan which usually follows the following five key stages.

  • Prevention

The best way to address a disaster is by being proactive. This means identifying potential hazards and devising safeguards to mitigate their impact. Although this stage in the cycle involves putting permanent measures into place that can help minimize disaster risk, it is important to acknowledge that disasters cannot always be prevented.

  • Mitigation

This second stage in the cycle aims to minimize the losses that would result from a disaster. Both structural measures (which involves physical structures or environments that are meant to curb the effects of a disaster) and non-structural measures (which involve adopting or amending building codes to optimize safety for future building construction) have to be taken.

  • Preparedness

This is an ongoing process in which individuals, communities, businesses and organizations can plan and train for what they will do in the event of a disaster. Preparedness is defined by ongoing training, evaluating and corrective action in order to ensure the highest level of readiness.

  • Response

Response is what happens after the disaster occurs and this involves both short and long term responses. The idea at this stage is to help restore safety as well as to minimize the risk of any additional damage and this is mainly done through eliminating any and every ongoing hazard in an area.

  • Recovery

Ultimately, this stage is about helping individuals, communities, businesses and organizations to return to normal or a new normal depending on the impact of the disaster. Recovery requires prioritization which focuses on recovering and restoring the most essential elements first.

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