Some geographical areas are prone to certain types of national disasters. In others, large-scale accidents can occur without such natural precedent. In both types of situations, critical lessons have to be learned for the future while, at the same time, the effects of that disaster must be minimized as much as possible. Disaster management frameworks must address all of these concerns reflexively.
The causes and effects of disaster management may be seen as operating cyclically. Disaster management techniques are not bred or prompted by a single incident, but evolve gradually both as a response to previous events and in a preparatory way towards future emergencies. In this sense. those stakeholders involved in the development of disaster management include a broad number of actors including politicians, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), civilian elements, academics and many others. Humanitarian agencies or organizations fit prominently among related NGOs.
Disaster management is concerned with a set of practices that must limit the range and level of the disaster's impact, not only on surrounding people, but on the physical landscape and local infrastructure. The first concept is mitigation, one that contains the impact of the disaster to minimal proportions through mechanisms such as structure inspections and building inspections. Mitigation is followed by emergency preparedness systems and personnel, response mechanisms and teams, and finally, recovery contingencies that help the local population return to a degree of normalcy in daily life.
Disaster management and specific tools can be initiated by a number of emergency events. The Urban Earthquake Vulnerability Reduction Project isolates five primary categories of emergency: water and climate-related (floods, tornadoes or hurricanes), geologically-related (earthquakes and dam destruction), chemical/industrial/nuclear, accident-related and finally, biologically related. Each of these requires its own specific approaches, organization, mitigation resources, strategies and tactics.
To learn from past causes and lessen the devastation of future effects, disaster management analysts must look at an area and determine its level of vulnerability. This can be based on surrounding geological features (such as fault lines) as well as the layout of the area in terms of structures, infrastructure, roads and other criteria. Additionally, vulnerability levels can be established based on socioeconomic conditions, how well those conditions prepare them for response to an emergency and ultimately, how they are prepared to undergo recovery efforts.