If your calling is to help prevent and be involved in disaster management, then a BAA in Disaster Management is the perfect qualification for you. With the correct training, you will learn how to manage calamities like water shortages, collapsed mines, or oil spills.
What is Disaster Management?
On a day to day basis, we tend to use the word disaster as an informal description for big mishaps, or when things just go really wrong. For example, when that expensive wedding cake plunges to the ground, or when you accidentally send that message intended for your partner to your already-irritable boss. But a true disaster is in fact much more serious. It’s a sudden or accidental event that wreaks havoc and takes people’s lives.
Often, the catastrophes are natural, events that occur in nature, for example:
- snow storms
- volcanic eruptions
A natural disaster is pretty much nature’s way of telling us,
“Never underestimate me.”
Many people have lost their lives in these catastrophic natural events. Some of the deadliest avalanches in history have killed between 100 and 20 000 people at a time. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami claimed over a quarter million lives. Just last year, the 2015 Yangtze River Tornado in China claimed almost half a thousand lives.
The following video shows the relentless power of the Mother City’s famous South Easter. Anyone who has experienced the Cape Doctor knows that when he comes around, it’s time to hold on tightly to your car door or the nearest lamp posts. The power of this wind can destroy property, rip out trees, and has also been known to tear people into the ocean.
Disasters can also be unnatural, meaning that the route can be traced back to some form of human action or behaviour.
- oil spills
- building collapses
- bursting dams
When Brazil’s Bento Rodrigues dam collapsed in November of last year and resulted in one of the country’s worst environmental disasters – multiple people died, and toxic mud contaminated river and ocean waters to a devastating degree. The mud contained substances including mercury, arsenic, and chromium that exceeded human consumption levels.
Have a look at the consequences of this man-made environmental tragedy.
Even though the official cause is still being investigated, a dam is a man-made construction, and if it collapses, none but ourselves are to blame.
Blurred Lines in Disaster Management
If you’re wondering,
“Well, what about Global Warming? It causes natural disasters… but what causes Global Warming?”
then you’re quite right in thinking that sometimes disasters are a result of both natural and unnatural causes.
In many instances, what seems like natural disasters can in fact be traced to unnatural causes. How many times have we had big wildfires in South Africa – because some chop flicked their burning cigarette stompie into the bushes? How many hurricanes, hail storms, and heat waves are due to climate change – which humans caused (and are still causing!)? Natural disasters have been rapidly increasing… because of us.
It’s one thing to hear about a disaster, but it’s another thing to directly or indirectly be affected by it.
It’s almost impossible to fathom the network of lives that it affects, both emotionally and physically. People experience loss, trauma, grief, lack of shelter and nourishment, and have their entire lives turned upside down in an instant. Many end up in an existential struggle.
So how can we prevent these occurrences, and how do we handle them when they do occur?
Humanity has had to come up with the nearly impossible task of combating nature. Though it’s not possible to conquer the force of nature, we have been able to come up with certain strategies to prevent natural disasters, as well as to respond fast and effectively when they do strike.
Disaster management is about handling the potential risks and consequences of a disaster. This is not about a group of people discussing a plan of action and getting a crowd of volunteers together when catastrophe hits. Disaster management is an incredibly complex field of expertise, and requires professional, high-quality training. Entire university degrees are dedicated to this area.
In South Africa, disaster management is crucial. There are various disasters that threaten to cause damage and destruction. Townships are particularly vulnerable to disasters like floods, and fires that domino their way through the informal settlements at high speed.
The BBA in Disaster Management at Stenden South Africa
If you have a passion and interest for the prevention and management of disasters, you should look into getting thorough training and be qualified to handle this very serious and needed task.
Stenden South Africa’s School of Disaster Management in Port Alfred is a campus of Stenden University in The Netherlands and offers exactly that. The school offers a 4-year Bachelor of Business Administration in Disaster Management degree teaches students everything about managing disasters – that is, both the preventative and responsive aspects. Students graduate from this degree with an NQF Level 8, which is equivalent to Honours.
Students learn a vast variety of skills, and can choose between the following minors (streams)
- Climate Change & Severe Weather and Disasters
- Food Security in Africa
- Gender and Disasters
- International Protocol and Diplomatic Studies (this is a 6-month Grand Tour at the Thailand campus in Bangkok – awesome for international exposure)
“There is a global need for disaster management, as there are a series of escalating and un-predicting disasters happening and this is no different in South Africa, particularly as disasters have a severe impact on poor and vulnerable people, and this is particularly applicable to South Africa.
I see the need for a fully-fledged Disaster Management degree in South Africa. It’s of cardinal importance for our people that we think of elevating poverty, creating jobs, creating entrepreneurs, and helping with medical conditions.”
– Michael Hughes (22), 3rd Year student in Project Cycle Management Spanish at Stenden
If you’d like to view some frequently asked questions about this course, you’ll find some useful answers on the Stenden website.
Disasters are ever-looming, and with the climate crisis, this situation won’t relax any time soon. But the more people come on board to help manage, prevent and effectively respond to these disasters, the better are the chances of reversing some of the damage we have caused to the environment, and thereby to humanity.
If you want to see an epic example of how disaster management makes a difference, check out the Khusela Ikhaya Project. Transception founded this initiative in an attempt to protect informal settlements from fires. So simple, and so effective. Have a look at the video from Mandela Day 2015.