Disaster Management

Pornography is not a modern thing, it seems.1 Almost two thousand years ago, erotic frescoes, statues, symbols, inscriptions and even household objects were not uncommon in public places in a number of Roman cities; notably, Pompeii and Herculaneum, situated around the Bay of Naples.2

One of the reasons we know this is because much of it was preserved, ironically, by one of the most famous and spectacular natural disasters the world has ever experienced. In 79 A.D., a nearby volcano known as Mount Vesuvius erupted. The blast sent a plume of ashes, lava, rocks and scorching volcanic gasses so high into the sky that it was visible for hundreds of miles. By the end of the next day, Pompeii – then a flourishing resort for Rome’s most distinguished citizens – was buried under millions of tons of volcanic ash.3

And so it stayed, abandoned for centuries, until 1748, when a group of explorers looking for ancient artefacts began to dig. They found the city just as it had been – even mummified bodies, frozen right where they had fallen, preserved fruit and loaves of bread. The excavation of Pompeii is still ongoing today.4

Luckily, in the Republic, we don’t have volcanoes, avalanches, or snow blizzards to contend with. But we have floods, tornadoes, and drought.

A disaster, for the purposes of the Disaster Management Act 2002,5 is a progressive or sudden occurrence (whether caused naturally or by humans) which causes, or threatens to cause death, disease, or damage to property or the environment and which is bigger than those affected can cope with using their own resources.

There are disaster management centres whose function is (amongst other things) to collect, analyse, process and disseminate information concerning disasters and disaster management.


  1. Actually, in a way it is. Ideas about obscenity developed only in the 18th century, into the modern day concept of pornography. The Ancient Roman understanding of sexuality meant that explicit material was considered quite differently from today. Wikipedia – ‘Secret Museum, Naples’,_Naples

  2. Wikipedia – ‘Erotic art in Pompeii and Herculaneum’

  3. – ‘Ancient History/Pompeii’. The eruption ranks as the third deadliest eruption ever – Wikipedia ‘List of natural disasters by death toll’. 

  4. Ibid. 

  5. There are no amendments to the Act. 

  6. Section 60(1) read with section 18(1). 

  7. Section 60(1) read with section 32(2)(a) or section 46(2)(a).