Vice President U Henry Van Thio, in his capacity as the Chairperson of National Disaster Management Committee, delivered an opening speech via videoconferencing at the ceremony marking 2020 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction held at the meeting room of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday morning. The ceremony was attended by National Disaster Management Committee Secretary Deputy Minister U Soe Aung, Permanent Secretary Dr Ko Ko Naing, the Directors-General, the Deputy Directors-General and other relevant officials. The ceremony was also participated via videoconferencing by Union Ministers Lieutenant-General Soe Htut, U Soe Win, Dr Pe Myint, Dr Aung Thu, U Thant Sin Maung, U Ohn Win, U Han Zaw and Dr Win Myat Aye; Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, Deputy Minister Rear Admiral Myint Nwe, regional ministers who are members of the Regions and States Disaster Management Committee, government officials, the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, UN officials, INGO officials, and the Directors-General and representatives from civil society organizations. In 2009, the UN General Assembly decided to designate October 13 as the official date for International Day for Disaster Reduction. In 2019, the UN officially changed its name to International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction to better reflect its name.
During the ceremony, the Vice President talked about the matters on implementation of the Target E of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which is related to the development of actionable national and regional disaster risk reduction strategies; management for natural disaster risk; and the inclusion of measures for biological risks such as communicable diseases in the current risk management strategies and projects. The Vice President pointed out that COVID-19 pandemic is an obvious example of the need to prepare not only for natural disaster risks but also for other risks related to public health.
The Vice President also called on the people to take the COVID-19 related challenges as an opportunity to learn lessons from it. He said that the ceremony became more meaningful because it was held in the time when people were trying to resolve COVID-19 related problems.
The Vice President said that Myanmar’s Disaster Management Law drafted in 2013 mentions that natural disasters include outbreak of contagious diseases of humans or animals. He continued that only managements for risks of floods, landslides and storms are usually needed, but COVID-19 has become the first communicable disease that disaster management officials are facing in these years. The government and all the citizens are trying their best to control the COVID-19 outbreak, he said. The Vice President said that natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, gales and droughts made adverse impacts on the people and economy of Myanmar.
On average, more than 1 million people in Myanmar annually face floods and cyclones. According to forecasts related to climate changes, rainfalls and water-levels of the rivers in Myanmar are likely to increase. Moreover, climate experts warned about possible tidal surges caused by cyclones.
The Vice President called on all people to adequately prepare for those possible natural disasters and possible outbreaks of contagious diseases of humans or animals. The Vice President said that the COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge, and the theme of the IDDRR is “It’s All About Governance”. He said that all the nations need to efficiently cooperate to respond to the challenges and achieve good results in disaster management.
The Vice President said that having strategies and projects for disaster management will help implement short-term and long-term disaster management tasks. The Vice President said that the types of disasters and their impacts have changed. Ignoring ecosystem in previous decades made devastating environmental impacts in the world, according to the Vice President. He pointed out that the ecosystem needs to be restored and the disaster management works must be efficiently carried out in order for next generations to have a safe and sustained society.
During the ceremony, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordination Mr Ola Almgren read out the message of the UN Secretary-General. Union Minister Dr Win Myat Aye, in his capacity as Vice-Chairperson of the National Disaster Management Committee, also delivered a speech. A video footage marking the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR) was also screened in the ceremony.
Deputy Minister U Soe Aung, in his capacity as Secretary of the National Disaster Management Committee presented a certificate of honour to the Department of Disaster Management for organizing the ceremony marking 2020 International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. —MNA (Translated by Maung Maung Swe)