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In-Depth Jobs

career volume-24

Career in Disaster Managment

Usha Albuquerque and  Nidhi Prasad

Floods in Bihar and North-east have wrecked havoc in the lives of people living there. So also the earthquake in Italy, forest fires in California, and the terror attack in Nice. Disasters such as floods, earthquakes, droughts, terror attacks, come without warning and within a couple of minutes, a city becomes a heap of debris, complete villages are washed away, or a city traumatized. It takes months and often years for life to return to normal again. The United Nations estimates that in the past two decades nearly three million lives have been lost to natural disasters and some 800 million affected by them.

Disasters have devastating results, particularly in India often due to inadequate preparation. Since natural calamities tend to be unavoidable, most often unpredictable, efforts have to be made to withstand the aftermath of catastrophes. This awareness has led to a more proactive approach to handling of natural calamities, and the launch of disaster management programmes. The National Disaster Managemnt Authority ( NDMA) has been set up  to frame policies, lay down guidelines and best-practices and coordinate with the State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) to ensure a holistic and distributed approach to disaster management.

A disaster is not just the occurrence of an event such as an earthquake, flood, conflict, health epidemic or an industrial accident; a disaster occurs if that event/process negatively impacts human populations. Disasters combine two elements: hazard, and the vulnerability of affected people.

A disaster occurs when a hazard exposes the vulnerability of individuals and communities in such a way that their lives are directly threatened or sufficient harm been done to the community's economic and social structure to undermine their ability to survive. It could be a situation resulting from an environmental phenomenon or armed conflict that produce stress, personal injury, physical damage, and economic disruption of great magnitude.

Disaster management is a wide term which covers all aspects of planning for prevention, control and response to disasters of any kind. While natural calamities cannot be prevented, efforts can be made to ensure that the loss of life and property is minimal. This includes creating a sense of preparedness for prevention or mitigating the fall-out of a disaster, as well as the recovery after the disaster, reconstruction and risk management.

Types of disasters

Disasters are broadly divided into two types:

 1) Natural 2) Man-made disasters

Natural disasters

 Natural disasters occur as the result of action of the natural forces and tend to be accepted as unfortunate, but inevitable. They include:





*Floods / Sea Surges / Tsunami


*Snow storm


Man-made disasters



*Release of toxic chemicals or radioactive materials (industrial accidents)

*Dam failures

*Nuclear reactor accidents

*Terror attacks

There are several principles of disaster management, which include:

*Preparedness – planning and resources

*Coordination between various organizations

*Mobilizing the efforts of individuals, volunteers and specialists

*Focus on the macro-picture of the event

*Right knowledge of geographical location and nature of the disaster.

Disaster management requires quick response and recovery. It is done by identifying potential disasters, man-made or natural, and by creating contingency plans and procedures to be initiated when and if disaster erupts.

Disaster Management personnel need to be well prepared to manage emergency situations and should respond to the needs of the people and areas affected, in a quick and efficient manner. They have to be prepared and should have a plan in mind as to how to combat any disaster if it occurs. The right planning helps to decrease the intensity and impact of the disaster.


 Students from any streams are eligible to join the disaster management course. Candidate should have passed a Higher Secondary Certificate Examination (10+2) with minimum of 55% marks to pursue the bachelor’s degree course in disaster management.

The course focuses on the causes of disasters and how to minimize their impact. It enables students to learn about different areas of disaster management, including management of the situation, response to the needs of the people and the area, evacuation process, distribution of food and medical care for the injured people and so on. During the course students are introduced to environmental systems, field operations and organizational management of Disaster Management.

For PG Programmes: Candidate should hold graduation in any field from any recognised institute or a University.

For Ph.D: Candidate should have minimum of 55% marks in the Post-Graduation

Managing and protecting the mass from different hazards is a very important duty and it needs to be carried out with extreme care and caution. Disaster management is more of a service related field, so one should enter the field fully prepared i.e. understanding the pros and cons of the field.


Disaster management education enables professionals to apply managerial skills and planning in the prevention, control and management of any disaster. It also provides the much needed skills for crisis management and control.

Disaster Management training is useful for those entering careers with NGOs, social work organisations,  international agencies working in relief areas, paramilitary personnel, volunteers providing support and rehabilitation measures during disasters, as well as scientists, meteorologists, and environmentalists, working in the disaster  monitoring fields. There are good employment opportunities in the government and with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) an agency of the Ministry of Home Affairs whose primary purpose is to coordinate response to natural or man-made disasters and for capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response

In Government agencies: Employment opportunities are offered in the disaster management departments of government agencies such as:

*National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

*Fire departments

*Drought management departments

*Law enforcement authorities

*Relief agencies etc

*Insurance companies

*Public sector industries in the high-risk fields like chemicals, mining, and petroleum which often have their own disaster management cells.

Various opportunities are also offered in the fields of:





*Field training

One can serve as social workers, engineers, medical health experts, environmental experts, rehabilitation workers, etc. with International NGOs and relief and aid organizations such as

*World Bank

*Asian Development Bank (ADB)

*United Nations Organisations (UNO)

*International Red Cross



*Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) 

*The International Association for Disaster Preparedness and Response (DERA)

List of some organizations that offer training and jobs in disaster management:

*National Disaster Management Authority, New Delhi

*National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India, New Delhi

*SAARC Disaster Management Centre, NIDM Building, New Delhi

*Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA),

*India Meteorological Department, Lodhi Road, New Delhi

*Centre of Disaster Management, HCMRIPA, Jaipur

*Haryana Institute of Public Administration (HIPA), Gurgaon

*Disaster Management Centre, Bhopal

*Disaster Mitigation Institute, Ahmedabad

*Indian Agriculture Research Institute (ICAR), New Delhi

*Indian Red Cross Society, New Delhi and States Units

There are number of universities and institutes conducting research programmes  in disaster management in the country like Centre of Excellence of Disaster Management in Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee; Department of Earthquake Engineering in Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee; Centre of Earthquake Engineering in Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur; National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi;

Top Indian institutes for Disaster Management

*Symbiosis Institute of Geoinformatics, Pune

*National Institute of Disaster Management, New Delhi

*Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai , Jamsedji Tata Centre for Disaster Management

*Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi

*Disaster Management Institute, Bhopal

*Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU) New Delhi.

*Annamalai University, Annamalai Nagar, Tamil Nadu

*Punjab University, Chandigarh

*Environment Protection Training and Research Institute, Hyderabad

*Disaster Mitigation Institute, Ahmedabad

*Centre for Disaster Management, Pune

*Amity Institute of Disaster Management, Noida

(The list is indicative only)

(Usha Albuquerque is Director and Nidhi Prasad is Senior Counselling Psychologist at Careers Smart Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi.(email careerssmartonline@gmail.com)