Disaster preparedness for states and regions

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Vice President U Henry Van Thio addresses the Natural Disaster Management Committee meeting in Nay Pyi Taw. Photo: MNA

With the pre-monsoon season approaching in February, region and state governments are being urged to draw up year-end planning for disaster preparedness, emergency response and recovery, reviewing the disasters that occurred in their regions in 2017.
Vice President U Henry Van Thio, chairman of the Natural Disaster Management Committee (NDMC), made the remark at the NDMC meeting 2/2017 held in the meeting hall of Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday morning.
At the meeting, U Henry Van Thio said NDMC had managed matters relating to natural disaster management starting from May 2016 for nearly two years and had much experience in handling various disasters. With this experience, disaster management works are to be conducted to reduce the damages that can be caused by natural disasters.

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Local women demonstrate making life-saving flotation devices with empty water bottles and string at a ceremony to raise awareness of disaster preparedness in Yangon’s southern area of Kungyangon, where Cyclone Nargis struck in 2008. File Photo: Aye Min Soe

“Natural disasters will definitely occur. Lately, the frequency of natural disasters occurring has risen, as well as its destructive power. If the level of disaster management remains the same while the power or strength of natural disaster rises, there’ll be an increase in damages and losses. Therefore, we are striving for better and more effective disaster management as the strength and power of natural disaster increases. Not only individuals, but the whole world is being threatened by national disasters and the world’s countries need to work together as well as individual country to put emphasis on the works of mitigating and reducing (the effect of) natural disasters”, said the Vice President.
At the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan from 14 to 18 March 2015, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was set. The four priorities for action to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks of Sendai framework are understanding disaster risk, strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk, investing in disaster reduction for resilience and enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
“Our country is following the Sendai Framework and the priorities of Sendai Framework are to be considered in the management stages of national level, state and region level, district level and township level”, remarked the Vice President.
At the national level, the Myanmar Action Plan on Disaster Risk Reduction (MAPDRR) is drawn according to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). As the 23 work projects included in MAPDRR are the responsibility of relevant ministries, States and Regions governments there is a need for the relevant ministries, states and regions governments to take responsibility and work together.
“Annual projects need to be drawn for natural disasters, states and regions-wise. All round the year, we know the time, place and the type of disasters that could occur in our region, and we should be prepared for what to do. We also need to be prepared on response programmes and follow up programmes after the disaster happens. If things like required human, material, financial and technological resources to implement the programs are sourced and ready, arrangements to communicate and cooperate on requirements up and down as well as laterally are made, there’ll be readiness to respond to and face natural disaster in a region and further requirements will be known”, he said.
The NDMC is leading one of the natural disaster preparedness works of building cyclone shelters. A total of 85 will be built — 56 in Ayawaddy Region, 26 in Rakhine State, two in Chin State and one in Shan State. States/Regions Governments members have selected the locations. Each work committee and States/Regions Government members need to follow global agreements and policies set by the nation in conducting natural disaster management works in the region and work sector where each are responsible for and implement programs that are appropriate to their respective region. All need to suggest good ideas and discuss together on requirements for the natural disaster management work to be effective. There is a need for all to work and coordinate together with an aim to prevent and reduce the damages and losses caused by natural disasters to the people said the Vice President.
The NDMC Vice-Chairman Dr. Win Mat Aye, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, said by setting up and conducting effective disaster management work programmes, the ministry is ensuring that the society becomes one that could withstand and respond to natural disasters.
When the evolution of natural disaster management is observed, it was first conducted with a view to managing works programmes after a disaster has occurred. But in later years, based on the experience gained, preparations were toward readiness to face a natural disaster, and a policy of response to natural disaster was made.
Now the preparation works focus on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response works while preparation on recovery works were also being made.
In conducting recovery or reconstruction works, it is conducted not only to make normal recovery or reconstruction works but also include programmes to prepare and withstand against future natural disasters. Furthermore, cooperation with the people in the natural disaster management has progressed from a normal process to a Community-Based Disaster Risk Management process.
Preparations against earthquakes, erosion of river banks and landslides are high capital, high-cost works. But as per the saying, “Invest today for a safer tomorrow,” prevention is better than responding and investing in natural disaster preventive/preparation works not only reduces damages and losses but the cost of reconstruction and redevelopment will also be lower, explained the Union Minister.
NDMC received nearly Ks32 billion in funding, out of which Ks14 billion was used, leaving Ks18 billion left. Funding received in US dollars was about 1 million, out of which 817,711.15 was used and 188,166.19 remains in balance according to the committee.

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