Disaster is significant interference of the functionality and threat to a community as a whole including environmental and property losses having an impact on the social life. It can be caused by natural occurrence and by human activities. Natural Disasters are natural hazards which impact a society or a community in an adverse manner.
Severe floods in the second-most populous city in South Africa, Cape Town, in June 1994 required the urgency for legal reforms in the field of disaster risk management, invigorating an instructive process resulting in Green and White Papers on Disaster Management. These imperative discussions and protocol documents incurred opportunity for consultation with multiple stakeholder groups and provided the platform for improvement of draft legislation in 2000 that was persistent with evolving international trends in disaster risk reduction. Such sustained, committed and concerted efforts with regard to disaster risk management reform by the government and a wide range of stakeholders were reflected in the promulgation of the Disaster Management Act of South Africa, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) on 15 January 2003.
The Act provides for:
§ an interspersed and co-ordinated disaster risk management policy that focuses on preventing or reducing the risk of disasters, mitigating the severity of disasters, preparedness, rapid and effective response to disasters, and post-disaster recovery
§ the establishment of national, provincial and municipal disaster management centres
§ disaster risk management volunteers
§ matters relating to these issues
The Act recognizes the wide-ranging opportunities in South Africa to avoid and reduce disaster losses through the concerted energies and efforts of all spheres of government, civil society and the private sector. However, it also acknowledges the crucial need for uniformity in the approach taken by such a diversity of role players and partners.