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Disaster Mitigation
in Asia

30 Apr 2009
Issue No. 67

The Program for Hydro-meteorological Disaster Mitigation in Secondary Cities in Asia (PROMISE), funded by USAID/OFDA, commenced from October 2005.  The objective of the program is to contribute towards reduction of vulnerability of urban communities through enhanced preparedness and mitigation of hydro-meteorological disasters in South and Southeast Asia.  Components of the program consist of capacity building in hydro-meteorological disaster risk reduction, risk management advocacy, networking and dissemination initiatives, and city demonstration projects in selected countries.  Through consultations with a number of ADPC partners, five project countries were selected in 2005 for implementing demonstration projects in a highly vulnerable city with recent history of hydro-meteorological disasters – Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.  The projects in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Vietnam were finished by June 2008.  The projects in the Philippines and Sri Lanka were given supplementary activities, while a project in Indonesia began in February 2008.  The main activities from January to March 2009 are: development of early warning systems, set up of emergency response system, disaster management planning for selected schools, and networking for DRR.

PROGRAM ACTIVITIES for April and May 2009:

  • INDONESIA – PROMISE ID continued preparations for a communication and information simulation, using the standard communication for warning dissemination set up by the Jakarta Crisis Center.  Preparations also continued for setting the flood reference in the floodplain of Ciliwung River at Rukun Warga 1, 2, 4, 8, 9 and 10.

  • PHILIPPINES – PROMISE RP focused on networking activities this month because Dagupan City with its preparation for the annual May celebrations.  Nine high ranking officials of Bangladesh and one European based in Bangladesh went to the Philippines through the recommendation of ADPC for a four-day DRR study tour from April 12 to 15.  The participants were given a tour of the new Emergency Operations Center, witnessed a surprise fire drill that the city government called to keep its response teams alert, visited Barangay Mangin to see 3D map showing the community’s disaster risk and coping resources, and finally watched in Barangay Pogo Grande a water search-and-rescue drill by the community members, first responders and the Red Cross.  Ms. Mayfourth Luneta presented the PROMISE RP experience in early warning at a ToT on child-centered CBDRR run by Plan Philippines.  Ms. Luneta presented the participatory risk assessment exercises on April 16 at a disaster response training simulation conducted by ADRA and World Vision.

  • SRI LANKA – PROMISE SL team continued to develop the risk map needed for the emergency response plan.  The team held discussions with the DG of NBRO, and prepared a structure for data collection that was subsequently sent to the Kalutara UC Chairman and DMC Kalutara Coordinator for them to provide necessary information.  PROMISE SL is working on a design and estimate for the DRR resource center and web site.  Finally, the team also met with Kalutara Mayor Mubarak on a workshop for selected schools under the school safety program, and distributed rain gauges to said schools.

 A. From the Region

(1) Indian Supreme Court directs schools to uphold hygiene and safety standards

(based on reports from The Hindu and Hindustan Times)

The Supreme Court of India released a judgment on April 13 over a case of a tragic fire in a school in Tamil Nadu in July 2004 that resulted in 93 deaths.  The judgment, Writ Petition (Civil) No.483 of 2004, emphasized the principle that children should be able to learn in an environment of safety, and directed all concerned engineers and officials to follow the National Building Code. 

(2) Earthquake affects hundreds in Afghanistan, April 16

(based on reports by AlertNet)

Two earthquakes measuring 5.5 and 5.1 on the Richter Scale occurred on 16 April in Nangarhar Province, eastern Afghanistan, according to Afghanistan's National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA).  ANDMA's latest figures show 21 people were killed, 59 wounded and some 500 families have been affected by the quake.  Essential services (electricity, tap water, healthcare and telecommunications) were not disrupted, but 290 homes were totally destroyed and hundreds more made uninhabitable.  Cash assistance and emergency relief supplies, including tents, jerry cans and food items, have been distributed by various donors to survivors in Sherzad and Hisarak districts.  However, hundreds of earthquake-affected people still urgently need shelter, drinking water, more food and better essential health services. 

(3) Responses to the H1N1 Pandemic Alert

(based on reports from WHO, IRIN and AlertNet)

As of April 30, there are no confirmed cases of H1N1 inflation in countries in Asia.  WHO posts daily situation updates on the spread of the disease here:  IRIN has circulated the following national government responses to the H1N1 Alert:

  • Bangladesh – screening travelers, particularly those from countries already hit by outbreak.

  • India – stockpiled one million Tamiflu doses covering more than 142,000 people as of end of April, and hopes to procure another million doses; increased surveillance at airports and ports.

  • Indonesia – temperature scanners installed at 10 airports and ports; at least three million Tamiflu capsules in stock.

  • Japan – stockpiled Tamiflu doses for about 22.5 million and Relenza for about 2.68 million people, together covering nearly 20 percent of population; local governments have own stockpiles; checking passengers from Mexico, Canada and the USA at airports.

  • Malaysia – stockpiled Tamiflu doses covering less than 10 percent of the population.

  • Philippines – Tamiflu stockpile for 60,000 possible cases and is buying up more supplies; airports equipped with thermal scanners, additional medical staff hire to handle swine-flu related cases.

  • Singapore – thermal scanners at airport and isolation units at hospitals.

  • South Korea – Tamiflu stockpile for 2.5 million people, and will increase it to 10 percent of population.

  • Taiwan – stockpile of swine flu treatment to cover 10 percent of population.

  • Thailand – stockpiled 320,000 sets of Tamiflu.

  • Vietnam – visitors arriving from swine-flu infected countries to be isolated; Ho Chi Minh City has enough stocks of Tamiflu for one million people.

B. Calls for Submission

(4) Call for Papers: 2nd International Conference on Disaster Preparedness for Persons with Disabilities

This conference seeks to establish international networking for the promotion of disaster preparedness of persons with disabilities in the context of WSIS (United Nations World Summit on the Information Society), and to share knowledge, experiences, initiatives, and technology advancement related to disaster warning and evacuation system accessible for persons with all types of disabilities.  It will be held on 12 to 13 May 2009 at Millennium Patong Resort in Phuket, Thailand.  There will be 60 participants from several countries whose works can be linked with disaster preparedness or assistive technology development for persons with disabilities.  For more information, contact Senator Monthian Buntan, Chairman of Phuket Initiative Conference, Thailand Association of the Blind; Tel. +66-(0)2-246-3835, Fax 66-(0)2-246-2278; e-mail :

C. Conferences and Courses

(5) Third Central Asia GIS Conference – Bishkek, Kyrgistan: 27-28 August, 2009

Organizers: Kyrgyz State University for Construction, Transportation & Architecture.  This conference will bring together practitioners from Central Asian countries.  The topics to be discussed include GIS for Environmental Management, Emergency Management, and Health.  UN-SPIDER will be organizing a pre-conference meeting on August 26 and will be providing funding support for experts from the disaster management community to attend this meeting as well as the conference. Further information can be obtained by e-mail: or from the conference website:

(6) 4th Regional Course on Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction in Local Governance – Manila, Philippines: postponed

Organizer: Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC).  The course is postponed due to the current H1N1 alert; the new dates will be announced later.  The course intends to increase their knowledge, as well as of other stakeholders, on urban governance and disaster risk management to be responsive to the needs of vulnerability reduction, and to create opportunities for mainstreaming risk reduction as a component of urban governance.  For inquiries, contact Mr. Falak Nawaz,, or Mr. Amit Kumar,

D. Useful Resources

(7) Is Flood Insurance Feasible?  Experiences from the People’s Republic of China – ADB Working Paper, March 2009

In many countries, flood insurance is available in a restricted form and coverage is usually denied to those regarded as relatively high risk for flooding.  This working paper analyzes the feasibility of providing flood insurance vis-ŕ-vis the experience in the People’s Republic of China.  Download the paper at:

(8) The Right to Survive: the humanitarian challenge for the 21st century – Oxfam, April 2009

A new report by the UK charity Oxfam, which points out that 375 million people a year will probably be affected by climate change-related disasters by 2015.  Based on data from 6,500 climate-related disasters since 1980, Oxfam predicts that the current number of people affected annually would rise by 133 million or 54 percent - not counting those affected by wars, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.  This figure is up from the present figure of 250 million a year, and the possible increase could overwhelm the world's current humanitarian aid capacity.  From 2006 levels of US$14.2 billion, humanitarian aid spending may need to increase to at least $25 billion a year.  To download the report, go to:


(9) This month in Asia’s disaster history

One of the biggest recorded eruptions was on April 10 to 12 in 1815.  Mount Tambora, located east of Java, hurled an estimated 100 to 150 km3 of ejecta (ash and debris) to a height of 40 km and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 92,000 people died.  The eruption is rated a 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI), and is the highest rating given within the period of recorded history.  The eruption created a volcanic cloud that caused global cooling; it lowered the Earth’s temperature by as much as 3 degrees Celsius.  Learn more about the eruption at:


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