Accepted paper:

From apocalypse to disruption: the learning curve of cyclone management in Odisha


Zuzana Hrdlickova

Paper short abstract:

The 1999 Orissa Supercyclone killed 10.000 people and 14 years later, the similarly ferocious cyclone Phailin had ‘just’ claimed 40 human lives in the same state. This paper will examine the dynamics of collaborative processes that transformed cyclones from apocalypse to ‘mere’ disruption.

Paper long abstract:

The Indian state of Odisha (formerly known as Orissa) has experienced a number of destructive storms and cyclones, which have claimed thousands of human lives, destroyed livestock, properties and infrastructure. Being part and parcel of a typical rainy season, deadly cyclones have been seen as one component of the common life cycle in the area for centuries. However, perceptions of how people can live with disasters have shifted globally and also locally, moving towards disaster preparedness and resilience. This paradigm shift is the most apparent when one compares the 1999 Orissa Supercyclone, which killed nearly 10 000 people and Cyclone Phailin that affected Odisha (and the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh) with similar ferocity only 14 years later in October 2013 but claimed 'only' around 40 lives. Clearly, the ways in which disasters (and cyclones especially) are being managed by authorities and organizations in the last 14 years. In my paper, I will draw on the findings of our 'Organizing Disaster' research and recount my observations from the fact finding mission with the expert team at the Indian National Institute for Disaster Management in the aftermath of cyclone Phailin in October 2013. I will examine the processes of institutional learning and collaboration that pertain to cyclone management and pose questions about the borders between the state, non-government actors and the population. This should also shed light on positive developments in disaster management practices including shelter construction and evacuation.

panel P095
Living with disasters: hazards, continuity and change