Myanmar is vulnerable to a wide range of natural disasters. While the country’s coastal regions are particularly exposed to cyclones, tropical storms and tsunamis, rainfall induced flooding, is a recurring phenomenon across the country. Additionally, the whole country is at risk from earthquakes, droughts and fires while the country’s mountainous regions are also exposed to landslide risks.
Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 has been by far the most devastating natural disaster in the history of the country, which brought into focus the extremely high vulnerability of communities to natural hazards. The relatively low level of casualties caused by Cyclone Giri in 2010 with 45 people compared with Cyclone Nargis where 140,000 people lost their lives is partly attributed to advances in early warning and disaster preparedness in recent years. OCHA established a Country Office in Myanmar in mid-2008 with the immediate priority to facilitate and support the Government-led humanitarian response in Ayerwady Delta affected by Cyclone Nargis.
The Government focal point for Disaster Preparedness and Response is the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MSWRR). OCHA works closely with MSWRR to ensure a more systematic, inclusive and coordinated approach in disaster management and preparedness and response initiatives, and mobilizes resources for the humanitarian partners.
One of the activities prioritized by the Government’s 2009 Myanmar Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (MAPDRR) is the setting up of three Emergency Coordination Centres (EOCs) in Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay. OCHA is supporting the establishment of the first EOC in the capital. Strong and solid coordination when responding to a disaster is key for reaching the affected population in an effective and efficient manner and the EOC is at the heart of the government response, as experienced during the flooding emergency in August 2015
In 2012, OCHA supported the development of the Disaster Management Law that passed in August 2013 as well as the Disaster Management Rules finalized in April 2015.
According to the Disaster Management Law, the Government established the National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC), the highest decision-making body for disaster management. The NDMC is chaired by Vice President II and the Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the Minister of Home Affairs are the Vice-Chairs. Depending on the emergency, Working Committees and Sub-Committees will be constituted. OCHA is supporting the government in linking these sub-committees with humanitarian coordination mechanisms such as clusters. For more visit the Myanmar Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRR WG) page.