Aims and components of a disaster preparedness programme of an archives system of your choice.

It is necessary for archives institutions to identify risks which can endanger records and archives. It is also necessary for archives institutions to identify and access all possible risks to buildings, facilities and records and consider possible impact of these dangers to records and archives in the event of a disaster. In this paper, the author is going to explain the aims and components of a disaster preparedness program of an archives system of his choice.

An archive, according to web definitions, is a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people. According to a disaster preparedness plan is a written document profiling the process of ensuring that an organization has complied with the preventive measures is in state of readiness to contain the effects of a forecasted disastrous event to minimize loss of life, injury, and damage to property, can provide rescue, relief, rehabilitation, and other services in the aftermath of a disaster, and has the capability and resources to continue to sustain its essential functions without being overwhelmed by the demand placed on them.

One of the aims of disaster management planning is to reduce, or avoid losses from hazards. This is achieved by identifying risks. According to Tsvuura G. (2011:8) “ An organization can be threatened by hazards ranging from fires to power failures, from earthquakes to actions by disgruntled employees, from computer viruses to political insurrections. Threats may be deliberate or inadvertent, and they may be caused by either human intervention or natural occurrences or disasters” Records need to be protected from such dangers. Records also have to be protected against more everyday threats, such as mildew, pests, rodents, mound, light, dust, hazardous chemicals and improper humidity and temperature controls.

The best way to identify possible risks is to undertake a risk assessment. It is therefore necessary when conducting a risk assessment for records and records managers to classify potential risks according the likelihood that they may happen

According to Warfield (2002), “Mitigation activities actually eliminate probability of disaster occurrences, or reduce the effects of unavoidable disasters. Mitigation measures include building codes, vulnerability analysis updates; zoning and land use, management, building use regulations and safety codes, preventive health care and public education.

Mitigation will depend on the incapacitation of appropriate measures in national and regional development planning. Its effectiveness will also depend on the availability of information on hazards, emergency risks, and the counter measures to be taken. The mitigation phase, and indeed the whole disaster management cycle, includes the shaping of public policies and plans that either modify the causes of disasters or mitigate their effects on people, property, and infrastructure.

The second aim of the disaster preparedness plan is to assure prompt reaction in the event of a disaster, assure prompt assistance to victims. It is the goal of emergency preparedness programs to achieve a satisfactory level of readiness to respond to any emergency situation through programs that strengthen the technical managerial capacity of archives institution. These measures can be described as logistical readiness to deal with disasters and can be enhanced by having response mechanism and procedures, rehearsals, developing long-term and short-term strategies, public education and building early warning systems. Preparedness can also take the form of ensuring that strategic reserves of food, equipment, water, medicines and other essentials are maintained in cases of disasters.

The third aim of disaster preparedness plan is to achieve rapid and effective recovery. According to the University of Salford, the aim of emergency response is to provide immediate assistance to maintain life, improve health and support the morale of the affected population and records. Such assistance may range from providing specific but limited aid, such as assisting refugees with transport, temporary shelter, and food, to establishing semi-permanent settlement. It also may involve initial repairs to damaged infrastructure. The focus in the response phase is on meeting the basic needs of the people until more permanent and sustainable solutions are found.

The disaster plan ensures that ensures that recovery activities are quickly put in place. Recovery activities continue until all systems return to normal or better. Recovery measures both short  and long term, include returning vital life-support systems to minimum operating standards, temporary housing, public information, health safety education reconstruction, counseling programs and economic impact studies.
According to Simmermon L(1999:37) the emergency plan may be detailed or less detailed or less detailed depending upon size of organization. The first part of an emergency plan is the introduction which explains the process for developing the plan and promulgation letter signed by higher authority. Objectives of the plan are also detailed in this section.

The next section is termed situations and assumption or a brief description of possible emergency or disasters.  The section includes also the amount of warning time and degree of damage expected. The next section according to Simmermon (1999:40) deals with preventive measures. This section outlines the steps to be taken to minimize or prevent disruptions in normal business operations.
The next step is the outline of emergency procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency. The description of initial responses to be taken in an emergency and the list of key personnel will follow. Senior of officials must be identified who includes the director of the organization, the individual in charge of organization preservation management, anyone responsible for emergency planning and so on.

The next section deals with items of specific concer or can be called administration and logistics. This section describes the management of resources in all phases of emergency management. This is followed by the description of the building layouts. Of particular importance are the resources of water and power, the location of drainage points as well as floor plans. 

The next section is a list of emergency equipment and supplies and guidelines for salvage and lastly the definition of terms. It is necessary to define terms that are commonly known as well as those that may cause confusion if misinterpreted.

The author had explained the three aims of the disaster preparedness plan which are; to reduce, avoid, losses from hazards, assure prompt assistance to victims and records and achieve rapid and effective recovery. The components of the disaster plan have been identified as the introduction, a brief description of possible emergencies or disasters, a description of preventive measures that can be taken, emergency procedures, including initial responses, a list of key contacts, a description of items specified concern that should be rescued or protected and a description or graphic plan of building layout, a list of emergency equipment and supplies, guidelines for salvage and the date of the plan review.

Simmermon, 1999, Disaster Management and Planning, London, IRMT
Warfield C._The Disaster Management Cycle,-Found online  accessed on 30/03/15
Richard H.,_Disaster Management Cycle, Center for Disaster Resilience, University of Salford. Found online accessed on 30/03/15
Components of Basic Disaster Plan.Found on Accessed on 30/03/15

Etiwel Mutero holds a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Records and Archives Management through the Zimbabwe Open University and a National Certificate in Records and Archives Management from Kwekwe Polytechnic.You can contact him on 00264817871070 or

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