India is prone to natural disasters due to its unique geo-climatic conditions. Response and relief are usually ad hoc and poorly managed. Although a single set of reasons cannot be made out, lack of institutional mechanism, lower preparedness levels, absence of any performance evaluation and minimal community involvement have been often blamed. What remains unanswered is “Why are the same mistakes repeated time and again?” India has witnessed a number of natural and man-made disasters in the recent past. Despite best efforts of various responders, there have been reports of failures in meeting many mission parameters. The objective of this paper is to analyse reasons for such failures, and to identify some critical success factors in disaster relief operations specific to developing countries. The authors have conducted an exploratory study and interviewed experts/volunteers from all domains of relief operations. Two brief case studies have been presented, to validate the findings of the paper.
Keywords: natural disasters, CSFs, critical success factors, disaster relief operations.