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Myanmar Launches New Disaster Reduction Action Plan

Myanmar has launched a disaster risk mitigation action plan in a move to boost disaster risk prevention investment in the country, prone to multiple natural hazards such as seasonal cyclones, storm surges, floods, landslides, droughts and forest fires.

The launch ceremony took place in Nay Pyi Taw on October 9, attended by VicePresident Henry Van Thio, the chair of the National Disaster Management Committee.

The 2017 Myanmar Action Plan on Disaster Risk Reduction is a concerted effort of line ministries and relevant government agencies including the focal Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, supported by external development partners such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Drafted through a series of national and sub-national consultations bringing together diverse views and ground realties, the action plan is comprehensive and action-oriented to address the underlying drivers of disaster risk in a systematic manner. It is subtitled as ‘Fostering resilient development through integrated action plan’.

Resources are better leveraged through an integrated and multi-stakeholder approach in developing the action plan, said Mark Cutts, OCHA Head of office, who spoke at the action plan launching ceremony on behalf of the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Renata Lok Dessalien. Myanmar suffered average annual loss of three per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to natural disasters over the past three years, according to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Reliefand Resettlement. The 2015 floods and landslides affected 12 out of 14 states and regions and led to damage and loss of $1.5 billion, which was 3.1 per cent of country’s GDP in 2014-15. The floods were identified as one of the key reasons for drop in the GDP growth rate from 7.3 per cent in 2015-16 to 6.5 per cent in 2016-17 by the 2016 Myanmar Economic Monitor published by the World Bank. Myanmar saw changes in disaster risk landscape in which small and medium scale disaster and climate-induced disaster such as floods and cyclones become frequent. Over the last 10 years, the country has been impacted by two major earthquakes, three severe cyclones, floods and other smaller-scale hazards

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, under the Ministry of Transport and Communication, said Myanmar has been undergoing a severe impact of El Nino including extreme temperatures, unusual rainfall patterns, dry soil, high risk of fires and acute water shortages since mid-February 2016.

Meanwhile, the country is also implementing a new project through the World Bank support to strengthen its capacity to respond to disaster risks. Under the project, Myanmar will be provided with $116 million aid to reduce the impact of flooding, improve the resilience of selected public facilities against earthquakes in Yangon, and enhance the union government’s capacity to finance disaster response to emergencies across the country.

The Myanmar Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Management Project is aimed to help the Ministry of Planning and Finance to develop disaster risk financing instruments, mainstream resilience into public investment planning, reduce the financial costs of future disasters, and improve the capacity to manage and finance the response to possible future disasters. The project is part of Southeast Asia’s regional program on disaster risk management financed by the World Bank, which includes a series of projects in Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao.