Disaster and Hazards


To prepare for DISASTERS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT  for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about Disaster and Hazards. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the Governance syllabus (GS-III.). Disaster and Hazards terms are important from Disaster Management perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams. Even these topics are also highly linked with current affairs. Almost every question asked from them is related to current events. So, apart from standard textbooks, you should rely on newspapers and news analyses as well for these sections.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) defines disaster as “a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society at any scale due to hazardous events interacting with conditions of exposure, vulnerability and capacity, leading to one or more of the following: human, material, economic and environmental losses and impacts.” (UNISDR 2016).

The DM Act 2005 uses the following definition for disaster:

“Disaster” means a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or manmade causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.”



A hazard is a threat, a future source of danger with a potential to cause damage to:

  • People: Death, injury, disease and stress
  • Property: Damage to property, economic loss, loss of livelihood and status
  • Environment: Loss of flora and fauna, pollution, loss of biodiversity.


Difference between hazards and disasters


Disaster Hazard
Disaster is an event that occurs suddenly/unexpectedly in most cases and disrupts the normal course of life in affected area. It results in loss or damage to life, property or environment. This Loss is beyond the coping capacity of local affected population/society. And therefore requires external help. Hazard is an event that has potential for causing injury/ loss of life or damage to property/environment.



Important terms used in disaster management:
  • Hazards: A phenomenon which may cause injury or loss of life, damage to property, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation.
  • Vulnerability: The potential for loss to an individual, community or place because of a disaster that is affected by geographical as well as social conditions.
  • Community: People who live together in a village or urban areas, which can be identified as local group with a common way of life.
  • First Responders: Group of people who are immediately affected by a disaster, and are the first to respond and help to cope with it, before government or relief agencies can rush to the area.