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An Assignment

Social Work

Submitted To:
Submitted by: Mrs. Sheeba Joseph
Nitin Varghese HOD, Department of Social Work
B.A. Social Work (Hons.)

Bhopal School of Social

Several definitions are frequently applied to disaster.
A disaster can be an event that causes extensive destruction, death, or
injury and that produces widespread community disruption and individual
trauma. (Hartsough & Myers, 1987).
Disasters may be occurrences of nature such as a hurricane, tornado,
storm, flood, high water, tidal wave, earthquake, volcanic eruption,
drought, blizzard, pestilence, or fire. (American Red Cross, 1991)
They may have a technological cause such as hazardous waste
contamination or nuclear accident; or they may be the result of human
error or equipment failure such as transportation accidents, industrial
accidents, dam breaks, or building or structural collapse. In addition, acts
of terrorism, riots, kidnapping, and random acts of violence may be
viewed as disasters. The disaster may be either sudden or slow and
insidious over several months; it may be unexpected or have some degree
of predictability.
For policies related to the social work profession, it is important to
conceptualize disasters in a framework that encompasses the breadth of
responses compatible with social work knowledge and skills at the macro,
mezzo, and micro levels. Disasters are but one subcomponent of extreme
stress situations.

This overall category of extreme stress situations may be subdivided into

two major areas: (1) Situations that affect individuals (such as rape or
other violent crime, a serious home fire, or a tragic accident) and
(2) Extreme, collective situations. A collective stress situation is one in
which a social system fails to provide expected life conditions for its
members. Collective stress situations are divided into disasters and
conflicts; conflicts include such events as wars, riots, and terrorist attacks
(Quarantelli, 1985).

Using this framework, disaster trauma exists at two levels: individual and
collective. Disaster creates trauma for entire communities by virtue of
massive disorganization, immobilization of infrastructure, and hiatus of
customary leadership, all of which produce trauma, grief, and a sense of
helplessness in individuals, families, and small groups owing to losses,
severe disruption, and frustrated attempts to obtain assistance and solve

How is the Social Work Response different from other professionals?

Social workers can fill many roles in the wake of a national disaster, whether it is
man-made or natural. In addition, we have the expertise to address many of the
issues people face in the wake of a disaster such as housing, unemployment, and
restructuring dismantled social systems.
What is lost in a community affected by a disaster?

Social Resources
Economic Resources
Human Resources
Sense of community and belongingness
Physical Environment
Loss of essential and basic living amenities.

Social Work in Disaster Management Responses

Across the duration of a disaster, four stages have been identified that provide
chronological targets for social work responses:
(1) Pre-impact, beginning when a disaster poses no immediate threat but
prompts mitigation and preparedness activities;
(2) Impact, or the period when the disaster event takes place;
(3) Post-impact, or the period immediately after the impact up to the beginning
of recovery; and
(4) Recovery, or the period in which disaster survivors are working toward
restoration of their pre-disaster state (American Red Cross, 1993). It is useful to
services delivery to recognize the short- and long-term stages of recovery; the
latter sometimes require years.

Social Work Roles in Disaster Work

Disaster relief and recovery requires a range of roles familiar to social
These include roles ranging from counselling to case management to
community development
Social workers have foundation training in micro and macro roles
applicable to emergency management
Some generalist knowledge and skills provided by social work education
can be applied to the field of disaster management.

Organize and participate in community pre-disaster planning and
management committees.
Plan and develop interventions focused on the groups most
vulnerable to the impact of the imminent disaster

Focus on team-building and community coordination during
immediate aftermath of disaster.
Manage reintegration of internally displaced persons and refugees.
Engage in grassroots social development in rebuilding communities
and social networks.

Some Roles Played by Social Workers in Disaster Management

and Disaster Responses:
Mental Health Practitioners
Community Organizers
Social Service Advocates
Legal/Policy Advocates

Problems faced by Social Workers

Studies of social workers involved in disaster work conclude that they are
not adequately prepared to handle many of the special demands of this
The crisis nature of the work, the emotional stress, and the problems of
interacting with multiple organizations created special demands for which
they were not prepared
On the job training was not sufficient to prepare them for the multiple
demands that were different from their previous social work experience.
Social Workers are often overlooked in Disaster Management efforts,
traditional first responders such as firemen, ER services, etc. receive more
attention from the government as well as the public.
Social Workers are not organized together to make any significant
collective impact.

Statement by NASW on Disasters and Social Work

NASW supports participation in and advocates for programs and policies that
serve individuals and communities in the wake of disaster. NASW supports:
The prevention or mitigation of the adverse consequences of disaster and
effective preparation for disaster by individuals, families, social networks,
neighborhoods, schools, organizations, and communities, especially where
vulnerable populations are concentrated
Enhancement of the efficiency, effectiveness, orchestration, and
responsiveness of disaster relief and recovery efforts to prevent the second
disaster phenomenon that magnifies the trauma of the initial catastrophe
The provision of mental health and social services to survivors in a context of
normalization and empowerment, with sensitivity to the phases of disaster
recovery and with understanding of the unique cultural features of the affected
community and its populations
Attention to the protracted recovery phase of disasters that leaves substantial
numbers of people without resources, without resolution of their losses, and with
little opportunity to restore their pre-disaster quality of life
Attention to the special and critical training, stress management, and support
needs of disaster workers in all capacities, from administrative to field staff, and
the need to respond to their circumstances as victims and survivors
Education of social workers and social work students in the specialized
knowledge and methods of trauma response and critical incident stress
The development of rigorous disaster research, especially intervention
effectiveness research
The development of a cadre of well-trained disaster professionals committed
to effective interdisciplinary and interorganizational collaboration in disaster
planning and disaster response, at both the administrative and direct services
The presence, commitment, and leadership of social workers in disaster
The provision of accurate and effective public information on the normal
stages of disaster reaction, functional coping methods, and strategies for
accessing and successfully using the disaster assistance bureaucracy.