Brailsford (2009) states that disasters can mean calamities, mishaps, catastrophes or grave occurrences that may occur naturally or be manmade and lead to environmental degradation, human suffering, loss of lives and destruction or damage to property. Most disasters are usually beyond the scope of the affected communities.
Crises may be defines as emergency situations that arise due to human or natural activities and pose threats properties, human lives or may result in disruption of the day-to-day lives of affected communities on a large scale (N.A., 1989). For instance, a flood is a disaster while heightened tension between countries can be regarded as a crisis, an example being the Cuban missile crisis (Perrow, 1999). While all disasters lead to crises, crises do not necessarily lead to disasters.
In disasters, the affected individuals may find themselves being on their own for a while depending on the widespread nature of the situation (Faberow, 1999). Some disasters might be so bad that rescue services, like the medical assistance providers, police and firefighters, may not be able to arrive at the disaster location right away. One way of looking at crises is that they are transformational processes in which the old ways of doing things have to be overhauled and change introduced (Hay, 1996). This is particularly true in incidences of political crises. Should change not occur, the crisis situation will be seen as either an incident or a failed situation.
In general, the responsibilities and roles of governments in crises and disasters are huge in more ways than one. Apart from providing protection and assistance during situations of need, it is the governments that can call such situations ‘crises’ and proceed to appeal to the international community for assistance. The role of coordinating and monitoring the activities of external assistance lies with governments which also set the regulatory and legal frameworks.