Disaster Management: The Concept

The United Nations defines a disaster as a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society. Disasters involve widespread human, material, economic or environmental impacts, which exceed the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent societies define disaster management as the organisation 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.

Types of Disasters

There is no country that is immune from disaster, though vulnerability to disaster varies. There are four main types of disaster.

  • Natural disasters: including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcano eruptions that have immediate impacts on human health and secondary impacts causing further death and suffering from floods, landslides, fires, tsunamis.
  • Environmental emergencies: including technological or industrial accidents, usually involving the production, use or transportation of hazardous material, and occur where these materials are produced, used or transported, and forest fires caused by humans.
  • Complex emergencies: involving a break-down of authority, looting and attacks on strategic installations, including conflict situations and war.
  • Pandemic emergencies: involving a sudden onset of contagious disease that affects health, disrupts services and businesses, brings economic and social costs.

Any disaster can interrupt essential services, such as health care, electricity, water, sewage/garbage removal, transportation and communications. The interruption can seriously affect the health, social and economic networks of local communities and countries. Disasters have a major and long-lasting impact on people long after the immediate effect has been mitigated. Poorly planned relief activities can have a significant negative impact not only on the disaster victims but also on donors and relief agencies. So it is important that physical therapists join established programmes rather than attempting individual efforts.

Local, regional, national and international organisations are all involved in mounting a humanitarian response to disasters. Each will have a prepared disaster management plan. These plans cover prevention, preparedness, relief and recovery.


These are activities designed to provide permanent protection from disasters. Not all disasters, particularly natural disasters, can be prevented, but the risk of loss of life and injury can be mitigated with good evacuation plans, environmental planning and design standards. In January 2005, 168 Governments adopted a 10-year global plan for natural disaster risk reduction called the Hyogo Framework. It offers guiding principles, priorities for action, and practical means for achieving disaster resilience for vulnerable communities.


These activities are designed to minimise loss of life and damage – for example by removing people and property from a threatened location and by facilitating timely and effective rescue, relief and rehabilitation. Preparedness is the main way of reducing the impact of disasters. Community-based preparedness and management should be a high priority in physical therapy practice management.


This is a coordinated multi-agency response to reduce the impact of a disaster and its long-term results. Relief activities include rescue, relocation, providing food and water, preventing disease and disability, repairing vital services such as telecommunications and transport, providing temporary shelter and emergency health care.


Once emergency needs have been met and the initial crisis is over, the people affected and the communities that support them are still vulnerable. Recovery activities include rebuilding infrastructure, health care and rehabilitation. These should blend with development activities, such as building human resources for health and developing policies and practices to avoid similar situations in future.


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A Crop-by-Crop Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables and Fruits

Agriculture Information Bank

Our comprehensive crop guides take you crop-by-crop through common vegetables and fruits for backyard gardeners. Each guide explains how to plant, when to plant, best harvest practices, how to save seeds, and how to deal with common pests and diseases naturally, setting you on your way to growing organic vegetables and fruits in your home garden successfully.


In each crop guide, you’ll also find a list of the different crop types to consider growing, plus a list of recommended varieties for each type. (Use our custom Seed and Plant Finder to locate seed companies that sell varieties you want to try.) If you’re curious about how to put a particular vegetable or fruit to good use in your cooking, check out the “In the Kitchen” section of each guide.


Written by expert gardener Barbara Pleasant, our “Crop at a Glance” collection teaches you how to grow everything from…

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Diaspora Tourism: Tourism of Cultural Connections

Tourism for Development

Tourism is no longer an activity reserved for the elite; it has become a major social and economic phenomenon in modern times. According to the World Tourism Organization, international tourism grew by almost five percent in the first half of 2011, bringing international arrivals to a new record of 440 million. It has become a commercial entity product addressing need and wants of people.

Today’s travelers visit diverse locations all across the globe.  Recently tourism to developing countries has experienced strong growth, with a seven percent increase in sub-Saharan Africa over the past year and an impressive nine percent jump in visitors to South and Southeast Asia.

The booming tourism industry helps spur efforts to improve basic infrastructure in developing countries and boost local economies. From 2000 to 2010, tourism revenues in the 48 least developed countries rose from three to ten billion dollars.

Tourism is an increasingly attractive and effective avenue for development efforts and a recent article published by the Migration Policy Institute’s Kathleen Newland and Carylanna Taylor highlights the role diaspora communities can play in this process.

Diaspora Tourists

Diaspora tourism comes in many forms, including family visits, heritage or “roots” tourism to medical tourism, business travel, and “birthright” tours. But regardless of the purpose of their travels, diaspora members are generally more likely to infuse money into the local economy when traveling to their country of heritage than most international tourists.

Recent emigrants are familiar with the culture and may not need international agents to charge them higher rates in order to feel comfortable and at home. As a result, diaspora tourists are less likely to limit themselves to foreign-owned tourist enclaves that import their supplies and export their profits.  Generally diaspora tourists are more willing to stay in locally owned or smaller accommodations (including with friends and relatives), eat in local restaurants, and buy locally-produced goods than other international travelers.

Diasporas can help open markets for new tourist destinations in their countries of heritage.  As diaspora tourists travel to less-visited regions to see friends and family or participate in various cultural events they will promote the creation of new restaurants, attractions, and general services for tourists outside of the major cities. The pioneering tourists themselves might choose to invest in businesses in the region after making connections on their visits. They will likely influence others to visit through word of mouth and may become involved with local community projects.

Government Efforts to Draw in Diasporan Visitors

The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar also sponsor a project that allows persons of Indian origin to have their roots traced with the goal of increasing tourism and philanthropy within the Indian diaspora. The Indian national government eases the stress and cost of travel by granting a visa waiver to all diaspora members.

One way that governments attract diaspora tourists is by promoting genealogy tourism as an exciting way to learn about one’s family history and reconnect with the past. The Discover Ireland website provides a portal for tracing one’s ancestors before embarking on a trip or upon arrival in the homeland.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) supports the development of African Diaspora Heritage Trails, an initiative originally proposed by the government of Bermuda to preserve and explain the artifacts of slave life.

What Next

Newland and Taylor put forward six different ways that governments and NGOs can promote diaspora tourism, including:

  1. Creating programs dedicated specifically to diaspora tourism
  2. Offering educational and cultural exchange programs
  3. Subsidizing heritage and sporting events
  4. Developing a strong internet presence
  5. Making entries into countries of origin easier and less expensive

In general, the efforts of governments to benefit from diaspora ties have been fairly limited and can be seen as an untapped resource with a great deal of potential for the advancement of development work.


Diaspora Tourism

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Double Statue at Salaar Jung Museum in Hyderabad

This is probably the most-photographed sculpture at the Salar Jung Museum. Popularly known as the “Double Statue of Mephistopheles & Margaretta”, this sculpture is carved out of a single log of Sycamore wood and has two distinct images on either side.

The life-size sculpture depicts the haughty, evil Mephistopheles back to back with the gentle, meek looking, Margaretta. Mephistopheles is clad in a hooded cloak, heeled boots and has a long face with a cynical smile that will remind you of Voldemort and therefore all things Evil; Margaretta on the other side has a prayer book in one hand, looks down and lost in love.   These are two characters, from Goethe’s famous drama “Faust”.

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