Vice President U Henry Van Thio, Chairman of Natural Disaster Management Committee addressed ASEAN Day for Disaster Management, opening ceremony of 7th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM) and related meetings held at Shwe San Ein Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw yesterday morning.
The event was also attended by Union Ministers U Thein Swe and Dr Win Myat Aye, Deputy Ministers U Aung Hla Tun, U Hla Kyaw, Dr Ye Myint Swe and U Soe Aung, ASEAN Ministers in charge of disaster management, ASEAN Secretary-General, high ranking representatives from ASEAN disaster management organizations, representatives from ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre), Permanent Secretaries, directors general, representatives from partner organizations and officials.
The event started with the playing of the anthems of Republic of the Union of Myanmar and ASEAN.
First and foremost, it is my great pleasure to be here and to have met with all the Ministers in-charge of disaster management from our ASEAN member countries. I would like to convey warmest greetings and best wishes to each of you on behalf of the Government of Myanmar and on my own behalf. I am very glad that Myanmar could celebrate this year ASEAN Day for Disaster Management with the theme “Bridging Disaster Recovery to Resilience”. This year’s focus on the nexus between recovery and resilience is inspired by our experiences and lessons learnt from past disaster events.
This notion is also backed by many studies that highlighted on that disaster recovery as still needed area to further strengthen while investing more for disaster mitigation and response. Disaster recovery yields an opportunity to integrate disaster risk reduction into multiple sectors aspiring resilience building of the affected areas. Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into development trajectory is sometimes a daunting task for all of us due to many reasons including limited financing and technical know-how. Therefore, we would like to find out alternative mean of ensuring risk-informed development planning and implementations; that is ‘disaster recovery’ through which we could bring sustainable and resilient development for the people. In the case of Myanmar, we have National Disaster Management Committee chaired by me with the membership of all the Cabinet Ministers. According to the disaster management law, we also established Disaster Management Fund that can be annually refilled with 20 Billion Myanmar Kyats. Keeping resilience building in mind, Disaster Management Fund has been effectively utilized for disaster prevention, response and recovery. Moreover, we have set up a coordination body for rapid recovery of disaster-affected areas starting from last year to enable closer cooperation and greater resource mobilization for rebuilding better and stronger. In fact, the mandate of this coordination body, its mechanism and funding can help us turn words into practical action in the pursuit of resilient recovery. We hope that the best practices of risk-informed recovery can be a strong stimulant and model for further integration of DRR into development programmes.
As we all know, climate variation and extreme weather events are now a new normal to us. This year is evidence also shows that some countries suffer both droughts and flooding at the same time. Across our ASEAN Region, studies reveal that in terms of earthquake and tsunami risk, the Philippines and Indonesia; are at the highest rank and in terms of flood risk, Myanmar, Lao, Viet Nam and Cambodia have stood at the highest rank. According to the disaster statistics, ASEAN region has experienced about 1,400 disasters of various scales from January 2012 to September 2019. Out of these reported disasters, flood is the most frequent disaster with over 60 per cent. Other disasters caused by strong wind, storm and landslide are reported to be around 18%, 13% and 12% respectively. Due to recent flooding generated by tropical cyclone PODUL in Lao PDR, Flood and landslide in Myanmar and Viet Nam, tornado incidents in Philippines, earthquakes and tsunami in Indonesia and the others have proven that our Region is now a disaster epicenter. Furthermore, climate change makes the disasters more inevitable, unpredictable and uncontrollable.
In this sense, we need to make endless efforts in disaster risk reduction and resilience building. Firstly, we need to ensure policy coherence amongst global, regional, national and local levels since this will greatly determines the impact of our interventions and implementations for minimizing disaster risks and cascading effects of disasters.
Therefore, we need to foster horizontal and vertical coordination for the realization of global agendas including Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development Goals. Besides, these global agendas should be fully spelt out in our regional, national and local level priorities.
Secondly, we need to have partnership and knowledge exchange. This plays a crucial role not only in responding to disasters but also in promoting the capacities of our nations. In our region, ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response is serving as important foundation for disaster management countermeasures at all the national and sub-national levels. Synergies and collective endeavors in the light of disasters where ten member states come together also demonstrate our dedication and commitment to operationalizing One ASEAN; One Response Declaration. I deeply acknowledge the support and confidence of our member countries, ASEAN Secretariat and AHA Centre rendered to Myanmar during these years. For us, Myanmar will always be available to make our best effort to cooperate with our fellow member states to build a disaster resilient and prosperous ASEAN.
Given the strong linkage between climate change and the frequency of disasters, our member states are experiencing the localized disasters more than ever before.
In this context, thirdly, we need to empower our people and enhance local coping capacities in dealing with disasters before the public help is in place.
Therefore, people-to-people connection at all level is the key to narrow the capacity gaps and solving the common issues that we have mostly encountered these days. Lastly, we need to enhance technical transfer and effective information management since these help our people to raise awareness on disasters as well as receive earlier warnings when a hazard is likely to occur.
This will also allow us to obtain accurate information and adequate lead-time to take proactive measures for disaster preparedness and support risk-informed decision-making.
In conclusion, our ASEAN countries are complementary to each other in many ways over 50-year period. I truly believe that our collaboration in the face of disaster can further solidify our mutual ties and friendship amongst our countries and our people. Realizing resilience building as our shared value and common interest in disaster management, Myanmar has been looking forward to deepening our relation and cooperation in our ASEAN family. In this occasion, I hope AMMDM and ACDM will be able to strive for the achievement of ASEAN’s vision to become a global leader in disaster management by 2025. I wish you all, a successfully meeting today and enjoyable stay in Nay Pyi Taw. Thank you.
Next ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi delivered a speech and then a video clip on ASEAN cooperation in natural disaster was shown.
Afterwards the Vice President took commemorative group photo with event attendees and then released peace doves in commemoration of ASEAN Day for Disaster Management. — MNA (Translated by Zaw Min)