UPSC MAINS 2020: Breaking silos in disaster management

Topic : Breaking silos in disaster management

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 3: Ecology and Environment


  • An integrated approach involving all concerned stakeholders can help farmers combat the ill-effects of climate-induced natural disasters
  • Global development goals, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, seek to lessen the impacts of natural catastrophes and promote sustainable development .However; climate change is causing more intense and frequent disasters, which have the potential to de-rail progress. 


Need for sectors to work together:

  • The agriculture and disaster-management sectors have acted independently.
  • The farming industry has overseen the welfare of smallholders, with disaster management organisations only becoming involved when destructive events demand rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
  • However, such siloed and reactive approaches are out of step with the modern world.
  • But climate change is causing more intense and frequent disasters, which have the potential to de-rail progress.
  • Achieving the goals under such circumstances calls for a more proactive and collaborative approach, in which sectors work together to plan for, and mitigate the worst impacts of, disasters. 

Rising Natural disasters

  • Annually, there were 260 natural disasters in developing countries between 2005 and 2016 compared to 235 annually during the 1993–2004.
  • The agriculture sector absorbs 22 per cent of damage from natural disasters in developing nations. The impacts can include damage to irrigation infrastructure, pollution of water resources, soil erosion and reduced yields. 

South Asia

  • South Asia accounted for 40 per cent of global natural disasters as it is particularly vulnerable to floods and droughts. Moreover, In South Asia, farmers rely on the monsoon for irrigation.
  • Climate change is forecast to change temperatures and rainfall patterns in South Asia. The poorest farmers, with fewer resources to help them adapt, are the most vulnerable to unforeseen disasters.
  • The South Asia Drought Monitoring System is an international collaboration which seeks to improve resilience and responses to drought.

Forecasting threats

  • In 2017, developed methods for mapping risks from floods, droughts, extreme rainfall, heat waves and sea-level rise, and estimating their potential impacts on people and agriculture.
  • Another planning tool, the South Asia Drought Monitoring System is an international collaboration seeking to improve resilience and responses to drought.
  • Every eight days, IWMI produces detailed drought severity maps using satellite data, showing how drought is affecting agriculture across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Governments can use them to identify priority areas requiring assistance.

Boosting farmers’ resilience

Index-Based Flood Insurance (IBFI)

  • In recent years, an Index-Based Flood Insurance (IBFI) product is developed that aims to integrate hi-tech modelling and satellite imagery with other data to predetermine flood thresholds.
  • The IBFI product recognises when the depth and duration of flooding exceed pre-defined limits, triggering automatic payouts of compensation. 

Efforts of IWMI

  • There should be efforts to boost farmer preparedness through bundled solutions by providing SMS-based weather information and advice on crop and water-management methods and fertilisers.
  • In cases where severe disaster strikes, IWMI uses satellite imagery to aid rescue efforts.
  • For the first time, IWMI worked with the Ministry of Disaster Management and the United Nation’s platform for ‘Space-based Information for Disaster management’ to prepare maps showing the flooding situation in real time.
  • Aimed at assisting vulnerable people in areas that are prone to such disasters, IWMI is also created open-source tool ‘Rapid Impact Based Forecasting and Warning for Financing and Emergency Management’.
  • Every eight days, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) produces drought severity maps, showing how drought is affecting agriculture across Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • Jointly with the UN World Food Programme, Water Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and IWMI published the climate and food security monitoring bulletin for Sri Lanka to provide adaption measures, and preparedness for drought.
  • Combining near-real time weather forecasts, IWMI’s regional rainfall flood maps defines severity thresholds indicating likely impacts of a flood event in particular areas.
  • This framework facilitates faster adoption of emergency measures, effective allocation of funds and improved coordination between local authorities.


  • Advance planning can help alleviate the worst impacts of disasters or at least speed up the rescue attempts.
  • However, this approach demands collaboration between national and regional governments.

 Sample Question:

Breaking down silos and taking an integrated approach to disaster management is vital if we are to help agriculture bounce back from climate shocks and meet the global goals of achieving sustainable development for all. Comment.