n Journal of Public Administration - Disaster management : an overview

Special issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



In a time of efforts to limit the nature and scope of government functions, the scope and practice of disaster management are expanding rapidly. Reasons for this include the increase in the number of natural and technological disasters, the number of people affected and dead and the rising cost associated with disasters. In this descriptive overview of disaster management the concept disaster and related concepts of hazard, risk and vulnerability are clarified. Disasters are classified into natural, man-made and hybrid disasters that could all be of sudden-onset or slow-onset nature. The complexity of disaster management due to its multidisciplinary nature, multi-institutional involvement and inclusion of all the basic management functions is pointed out. The traditional approach to disaster management based on the four phased disaster management model developed in the 1970s in which the four phases of disaster management occur in stages, that follow each other in a sequence, is found to be no longer useful to disaster managers. The expand-contract model of disaster management illustrate an alternative approach in which disaster management can be viewed as a continuous process where disasters are managed in a parallel series of activities rather than a sequence of actions. In South Africa disasters have historically been managed in an uncoordinated, fragmented and crisis- reactive way. Developments since 1996 culminated in the , 2002 (Act 57 of 2002), which provides for an integrated, coordinated disaster management policy, financial guidelines as well as structures to coordinate disaster management.

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