Integrating Social Media with Various Aspects of Disaster Management

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A need was felt by the Government of India to be prepared with disaster management plans after the Gujarat earthquake of 2001. A high powered committee was set up to make recommendations on the preparation of disaster management plans and suggesting effective mitigation mechanisms.

On 23 December 2005, the Government of India enacted the Disaster Management Act, which envisaged the creation of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the PM, and State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) headed by respective CMs, to spearhead and implement a holistic and integrated approach to Disaster Management in India.

disaster management

The Academy has evolved to a great extent from those days. Today Prime Minister Modi tweeted his best wishes to NDMA as they integrate social media with various aspects of disaster management. PM Modi has in the past suggested that SAARC nations should conduct regular joint exercises on disaster relief and rescue.

Use of social media for disaster management:

A lot of social media activity was witnessed during Kashmir Floods of 2014. Similar efforts were witnessed when Chennai was submerged in water. Indian Army was also seen co-ordinating rescue operations during Kashmir Floods by using its Facebook page and Twitter handle.

It therefore comes as natural progression when NDMA too joined hands with @TwitterIndia towards making India a disaster risk resilient country. NDMA launched its Facebook page on the 3rd of September 2014. NDMA has been periodically using tweets to inform people about the various rescue operations it keeps on undertaking across India.

Twitter recently has been flooded with tweets requesting blood of a particular group at certain hospital as well as with maps for relief distribution during disasters like Kashmir and Chennai Floods, Nepal and North-East India Earthquakes, etc.

Tweets informing volunteers about post disaster cleaning up were also seen along with tweets informing people about free check-up camps held by doctors.

Positive tweets about people rescued brought smiles on many a faces.

Early days of NDMA:

NDMA for the first time in its history began review disaster preparedness plans of 13 departments of Government of India from 21-23 July 2014. The departments reviewed were: Water Resources, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Agriculture and Co-operation, Health and Family Welfare, Mines, Housing and Poverty Alleviation, Urban Development, Environment and Forests, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fertilizers, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Pharmaceuticals.

NDMA has since 5th of August 2014 also been tweeting about situations that could be possible disasters or not. NDMA had tweeted on the 5th August 2014 that, "There was no immediate threat of flood in Kosi River, Bihar as slight rainfall in upstream and steady release of pondage water in River Sunkoshi, Nepal".

Success stories:

For NDMA managing Cyclone Phailin was a success story that the Academy also learnt from.

Collaborating with other nations:

NDMA had been collaborating with numerous nations with regards to disaster management in the interest area of the individual nation. Kenya had sent its delegation of seven members to study about drought management.

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