|Overview : |
Myanmar is exposed to a wide range of natural hazards, triggering different types of small scale to large-scale disasters across the country’s territory. A total of 27 natural disasters have been recorded between 1980 and 2010, causing the death of approximately 140,000 people, and affecting the lives and livelihoods of 3.9 million people; an average of 125,000 people a year. By far the most devastating natural disaster in Myanmar’s history, cyclone Nargis tore through the Delta region in May 2008, affecting 2.4 million people and claiming the lives of 135,000. It is estimated that around 870,000 people in Myanmar live in areas that are exposed to cyclones, and a similar proportion are vulnerable to earthquakes, with two fault lines running through the country across some densely populated areas. Furthermore 440,000 people are vulnerable to flooding and 390,000 are exposed to drought. These risks are being further exacerbated due to processes attributed to climate change and variability.
Myanmar’s vulnerability to hazards is compounded by socio-economic factors: widespread poverty and poor infrastructures are at the heart of the country’s relatively low capability to recover from a significant event, be it natural or man-made. It is this combination of hazard vulnerability and low capacity which makes Myanmar the “most at-risk country” in Asia-Pacific according to the InfoRM model.
A positive impact of Cyclone Nargis was that it increased Government’s awareness of the need to plan and prepare for future disasters, and of the need for prevention, mitigation and community awareness activities. The Post-Nargis Response and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP) developed by the Tri-Partite Core Group (TCG) outlined ways to reduce hazards and limit the effect of future disasters. Myanmar is one of the 168 countries that endorsed the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and is also a signatory of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), which came into force in 2009. The AADMER is a proactive regional framework for cooperation, coordination, technical assistance, and resource mobilization in all aspects of disaster management, and the first legally binding HFA-related instrument.
In order to meet regional and international commitments on DRR, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MSWRR) published the Myanmar Action Plan on Disaster Risk Reduction (MAPDRR) in 2009 with the goal ‘To make Myanmar Safer and more Resilient against Natural Hazards, thus Protecting Lives, Livelihood and Developmental Gains’. The Government officially endorsed MAPDRR in 2012, in an effort to provide greater impetus for DRR work in Myanmar. The document was updated to reflect the political changes in the country and the post-Nargis environment characterized by a multiplicity of natural hazards. The Government of Myanmar continued to demonstrate its commitment to DRR by introducing a Disaster Management Law, in 2013 and assorted Rules and Regulations currently awaiting Cabinet’s approval. MAPDRR provides the foundations for the youth volunteer programme, particularly component 6 on community-based disaster preparedness and risk reduction, and within that project 6.3: Promoting Community based Disaster Risk Reduction Volunteerism.
To support the Government’s efforts on DRR, the Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG) was established in 2008 and has since grown into a diverse network of more than 60 agencies and organizations working for DRR interventions in Myanmar. The DRRWG is characterized by high levels of commitment, broad participation and a strong partnership relation with the line Government Unit, the Department of Relief and Resettlement under the MSWRR. The DRRWG provides the umbrella under which most of the DRR activities are being designed, agreed and implemented and, as such, will play a key role in the strategy development process.
Rationale of the consultancy
In 2014, in an attempt to reinforce their capacities in CBDRR and in line with MAPDRR, the Relief and Resettlement Department launched the DRR youth volunteer programme with the aim of raising disaster awareness at the grassroots level and improving communities’ knowledge of early warning systems. The volunteers are also seen as first responders, the operational arm of township disaster management committees, and are expected to play a role of interface between the community and external service providers for DRR, as well as response and recovery activities.