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Disaster Management in South-East Asia

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Perspectives

Disaster Management in South-east Asia
Udai Bhanu Singh *

According to the International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences:

South-east Asia is the epicentre of frequent disasters of varying intensity. The damage to life and property caused by these disasters is comparable to that caused by war. Disasters disrupt the national economy and social development. Besides, the world has shrunk and news about the hardship suffered by the people is rapidly disseminated. As such, the management of disasters has become a key concern of governments confronted with an increasingly aware civil society and a shorter reaction time. Often when disaster strikes, it impacts more than one country and sometimes the region as a whole. The intensity and the frequency of such disasters have prompted the ASEAN to evolve its own response mechanism. However, often the scale of the disaster is so huge that only an international response can meet the challenge. In such cases, the international community, acting through the United Nations and its various agencies and other inter-governmental and non-governmental bodies, has provided succour. Although disasters can be natural, technological and conflictrelated, this paper addresses only natural disasters in the region.

A natural hazard is an extreme natural phenomenon that threatens human lives, activities or property, or the environment of life. Natural disasters are the destructive consequences of extreme natural hazards, and globally there are more than 700 of them each year. Floods are the most common natural disaster. Together with earthquakes and cyclonic storms they are the most destructive of such manifestations.1

Despite the efforts at mitigation, natural disasters have not diminished in number or intensity. Natural disasters still take a toll of 140,000 lives each year on an average. More than 280,000 lives...

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