Course manual Introduction to Disaster Management

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Unit summary


This unit set out to identify and describe the most vulnerable groups in times of disasters. There are five types of groups – the elderly, refugees, women, children and the internally displaced persons. It is important for any community vulnerable to disasters to identify the most vulnerable groups in the community in the disaster preparedness stages so that relief efforts can be planned and delivered effectively in the aftermath to reduce adverse impacts on these vulnerable groups..

Self Assessment Activities


  1. Identify at least two places in the world which have had civil unrest or natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or tsunamis in the last decade.

  2. How have these events impacted communities in these areas?

  3. What is civil unrest?

  4. What happened to the people caught in civil unrest or natural disasters? Where did they go?

Model Answers

  1. Fiji/ Solomon civil unrest and Indonesia tsunami in 2004.

  2. All sectors of the community were displaced. Uncertainties will develop in the mind of the community.
  3. Civil disorder is a broad term that is typically used by law enforcement to describe one or more forms of disturbance caused by a group of people. Civil disturbance is typically a symptom of, and a form of protest against, major socio-political problems. Typically, the severity of the action coincides with public outrage. Examples of civil disorder include, but are not necessarily limited to: illegal parades; sit-ins and other forms of obstructions; riots; sabotage; and other forms of crime. It is intended to be a demonstration to the public and the government, but can escalate into general chaos.

  4. People moved out of the country, taking with them their wealth.
    People starving, the adults emaciated, the children with distended stomachs.

People lost everything they owned. The scenes of distress showing recurring attacks on infrastructure and extensive closures of services due to civil unrest and destruction of related property.

Citizens not directly involved in a civil disorder may have their lives significantly disrupted. Their ability to work, enjoy recreation and in some cases, obtain necessities may be jeopardized. Disruption of infrastructure may occur during very severe events. Public utilities such as water, fuel and electricity may be temporarily unavailable, as well as public infrastructure for communication. They will move to a country where they will be able to live safely.



The following are noticed to be the most vulnerable groups in disasters.

  1. Elderly

  2. Refugees

  3. Women

  4. Children

  5. IDPs

  • In a group of not more than four select a topic from the vulnerable groups mentioned above.

  • It is recommended that you highlight why the group you have chosen becomes vulnerable and how to handle them in the terms of a disaster.
  • You can use power point, charts, leaflets, magazines, activities, model, etc. in the presentation.

  • Your presentation must not be more 15 minutes.

  • You will not be awarded with marks for extra time.

  • References must be included.


Mineral Policy Institute (2003) Trouble for Highlands Pacific? Civil Unrest Results in Bloodshed as Kainantu Mine Pushes Ahead Accessed on 27/11/07 from

Social Security accessed on 19/11/07 from

Human Security accessed on 15/11/07 from

Kashiwazaki, T. (2005), Women in Disaster – looking back on the impact of 1995 Kobe earthquake on women. Retrieved on 20/11/07 from:

American Academy of Paediatrics (2002) The Youngest Victims: Disaster Preparedness to Meet Children’s Needs. Retrieved on 20/11/07 from:

Wood, K. (2005), Vulnerability of Women in Disaster Situations. Retrieved on 20/11/07 from:

The effect of ageing worldwide: Reuters (2005). Accessed on 18/11/07 at:

Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Sept. 2005) Women in Disaster – looking back on the impact of 1995 Kobe earthquake on women. Accessed on 27/01/08 at:

Ehrenreich J H (2001) A Guidebook to Psychosocial Intervention. Centre for Psychology and Society, State University of New York: Old Westbury, NY.

1 Tsunami was known in Samoa as a Galu Afi but the National Disaster Advisory Committee (DAC) has now adopted SŪNAMI as its Samoan translation.

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