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Disaster Mitigation
in Asia

31 May 2009
Issue No. 68

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 May to June 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 May to June 2009:

  • INDONESIA –  PROMISE ID began preparations for a replication workshop scheduled for June 26, 2009. 

  • PHILIPPINES – PROMISE RP was preparing for a DRR Training event for teachers in the Dagupan City Division of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS), scheduled for the second week of May.  However, the emergency response toTyphoon Emong and H1N1 preparedness activities prompted the rescheduling of the event to June.  Typhoon Emong hit Northern Luzon on May 7, and while Dagupan was prepared and not hit badly by its effects, other towns in the province were hit badly.  The City Disaster Coordinating Council therefore was deployed in an emergency mission to the municipality of Bolinao to assist in relief operations.  PROMISE RP had two networking activities this month.  On May 13, Ms, Mayfourth Luneta attended the “Influenza H1N1 Preparedness and Response Public-Private Forum,” thanks to an invitation from the Avian Influenza Network.  Ms. Luneta relayed flu updates from WHO Philippines to Dr. Leonard Carbonell, City Health Officer for Dagupan.  On May 21, Ms, Mayfourth Luneta presented on the climate change adaptation of Dagupan City under PROMISE RP.

  • SRI LANKA – PROMISE SL team continued to develop the risk map needed for the emergency response plan.  The team distributed rain gauges to five schools under the school safety program, and provided training for selected school children and school officials on monitoring rain levels using the equipment.

A. From the Region

(1) Meet ADPC at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

ADPC will be participating at the second session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva, Switzerland from 16 to 19 June 2009 at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG).  ADPC is organizing three side events:

  • June 17, 8 to 9:30 AM, Disaster Risk Reduction in Education Sector

  • June 17, 13:30 to 15 PM, How to mainstream DRR into development: experiences from Governments in RCC member countries

  • June 18, 8 to 9:30 AM, Building Urban Community’s resilience to reduce disaster risks: Challenges and Experience

To download invitations for the events, please go to:  The ADPC booth in the GPDRR Marketplace is #28.  Visit it to hear live presentations of our work in the Asian region, and to obtain CDs of our publications.  For more information, contact Ms. Roopa Rakshit

(2)Flood emergency in Afghanistan
(based on reports by IRIN and Alertnet)

Flash floods hit Afghanistan from late April to May that killed more than 20 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and affected thousands of families.  At least 10 of the country's 34 provinces were affected by floods, landslides and avalanches. The Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority declared a nationwide state of emergency to mitigate the impacts of severe floods as the floods killed hundreds of livestock and damaged agricultural land. Over 5,525 hectares of agriculture land, some 22,000 livestock and about 4,200 fruit trees have been destroyed by floods in the past two months. 

(3) Diarrhea outbreak in Dhaka
(based on a report by IRIN)

The city experiences outbreaks every year, but this one is looking particularly bad. According to the ICDDR, B (a Dhaka center specialized for diarrhea) 19,000 patients were admitted in March 2009 compared with 7,890 in March 2008. In April 2009 some 23,000 were admitted compared with 13,932 in April 2008. E. coli bacteria and rotavirus are the primary pathogens The incidence is thought to be exacerbated by the high temperatures, power outages, and poor access to safe drinking water for Dhaka’s residents. The Department of Health ordered all health care centers in Dhaka to provide round-the-clock services. 

(4) Back-to-back tropical storms hit the Philippines
(based on reports by IRIN and Alertnet)

Emergency relief efforts continue for people displaced by two back-to-back typhoons that wreaked havoc across large parts of the eastern and northern Philippines.  The storms displaced more than 400,000 people. Storm Chan-hom, which made landfall on 7 May, dumping heavy rains and causing landslides that killed 43 people and displaced more than 161,020 people. The total cost of the damage wrought by Chan-hom has surpassed US$16 million, with more than 23,000 homes totally or partially damaged by floods or landslides. Chan-hom blew into the Philippines just days after tropical depression "Crising" and typhoon Kujira battered the eastern Bicol region and nearby provinces on 2 May, leaving 33 people dead and displacing 246,170. 

(5) Floods, mud flows displace 15,000 in Tajikistan
(based on reports by IRIN and ReliefWeb)

Aid agencies in Tajikistan have appealed for emergency aid to replenish the country's stocks, including food, as heavy rain continues to cause floods and mud flows that displaced over 15,000 people. Continuous torrential rain since 20 April had displaced more than 734 families and stretched emergency supplies country-wide and damaged about 14,000 hectares of agricultural land.  

(6) Cyclone Alia hits India and Bangladesh
(based on reports by Alertnet and IRIN)

Hundreds of thousands of people are stranded with no food, water and shelter four days after cyclone Aila washed away roads and submerged villages in Bangladesh and India  With winds of up to 90km per hour, Aila swept across eastern India and southern Bangladesh on 25 May, affecting millions and leaving more than 275 dead, mostly in low-lying Bangladesh. The cyclone hit parts of eastern India and coastal Bangladesh on Monday, triggering tidal surges and floods and destroying hundreds of thousands of homes.  In the Indian state fo West Bengal, at least 5.1 million people were displaced and over 100 people died.  In Bangladesh alone, the category one storm affected more than three million people and left 175 confirmed dead.  Effective early warning systems and evacuation measures seem to have saved countless lives.  Some 600,000 people were evacuated to cyclone shelters prior to the cyclone - a significant factor in minimizing the loss of life.  However, over 1,400km of flood protection embankments were washed away by Aila, exposing thousands of villages just as the monsoon is beginning, according to the Bangladesh Disaster Management Bureau. 

(7) Joint Ministerial Statement of the ASEAN+3 Health Ministers Special meeting on Influenza A(H1N1), Bangkok, 8 May 2009

Southeast Asian countries have agreed to continuously implement pandemic preparedness plans, strengthen national core capacities for pandemic preparedness, and promote inter-country collaboration on monitoring international travel, laboratory support and research.  Read the full statement at:

(8) UN, World Bank to help Southeast Asia reduce disasters
(based on a report by Alertnet)

Earlier this month, the World Bank, the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed an agreement to cooperate on reducing the risk of disasters in the region.  Under the agreement, which lasts five years, the World Bank will provide technical assistance through helping develop disaster risk reduction frameworks, sharing good practices and managing assessments after a disaster.

B. Calls for Submission

(9) Call for Abstracts: Climate Change and Extreme Cyclones: Regional Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and   Emergency Response in Climate Extremes Inflicted World

The Asian Disaster Preparedness Center and the Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Center are organizing a conference on the new tropical cyclone surge pattern, potential impacts, and of risk reduction options/models.  Elements at risk include the most vulnerable people, livelihoods, and infrastructure; all these should benefit from actions that will protect life and ensure sustainability.  The conference has the following objectives: (1) to capture lessons from recent tropical cyclones (such as Sidr in 2007, Nargis in 2008, and Xangsane in 2006); (2) understand the implications for disaster risk reduction of the climate change scenarios contained in the 2007 Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The conference is scheduled for 2 & 3 November 2009 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.  Those interested to present a paper should first e-mail a 250-word abstract to Mr. NMSI Arambepola or to Ms. Dilruba Haider on or before 30 June 2009.  The organizers will send confirmation email to authors of accepted abstracts, with additional details of the paper.  Papers will not exceed 4 pages of text and images.

C. Conferences and Courses

(10) Regional Training Course on Incident Command System for Disaster Management – Phuket, Thailand: 10-16 August 2009

Organizers: Asian Disaster Preparedness Center.  This course is designed to enable practitioners to operate efficiently during an incident or event within the Incident Command System (ICS). This course focuses on the management of single resources. The objectives of the ICS course is to provide participants with the in-depth knowledge on Incident Command System, describe the ICS organization appropriate to the complexity of the incident or event and use ICS to manage an incident or event efficiently. The proposed training will offer course work, hands on training with series of table top simulation exercises, lessons learned, good practices and field visit.  For more information, download the brochure from: 

(11) 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:

D. Useful Resources

(12) 2009 Global assessment report on disaster risk reduction: risk and poverty in a changing climate, UN 2009 

Bangladesh Quarterly Economic Update (March 2009) (Bangladesh) [PDF] 

This month in Asia’s disaster history
(based on a report by Alertnet)

Mourners crowded ruins in southwest China to mark one year since an earthquake shattered the region In Sichuan province, the earthquake rippled out from Wenchuan County on May 12 last year, and more than 80,000 people killed. About 450 children died at the middle school in Juyuan, and the deaths may remain a wound likely to fester for a long time because the government compounded their bitterness by curtailing collective mourning. AlertNet reports on how little attention has been paid to the plight of the elderly and those left disabled. Visit the Alertnet special coverage page at:

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