New Database to Help Myanmar Better Assess Loss and Damage Risks from Disasters

Oct 7, 2014

Government officials discuss data collection Photo: Philippe Wealer /UNDP

[Pathein – Oct 7] Myanmar is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world and the risk of hazards turning into disasters is predicted to further increase because of global warming.

Detailed information on the destructive nature of past disasters in Myanmar is scattered or missing.

The Government of Myanmar, through its Relief and Resettlement Department, together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN-Habitat have set out to create a database to capture the losses and damages from past disasters, and put in place systems to continue updating the resulting Myanmar Disaster Loss and Damage Database.

Last week, the Relief and Resettlement department met with more than 20 other governmental units in Ayeyarwaddy Region to pilot data collection on disasters at a township level. Some of these government units collect information about the damages and losses caused by disasters such as human casualties, destroyed farmlands and buildings, for their departmental use.

The meeting marked the first step towards extracting data from past damages and losses caused by disasters in the Ayeyarwaddy region.

U Than Soe, the Director of RRD in Pathein expects the full participation of government departments in sharing data from their archives that could improve policies to reduce the risk of disasters. “This meeting was held so that other departments come to appreciate the importance of data collection”.

“A first step towards a better understanding of risks is to study the losses and damages incurred during past disasters. In Myanmar, the losses and damages from disasters are not systematically recorded, resulting in poor understanding of the emerging pattern and trends of disaster risks. This contributes to the lack of targeted action,” said Lat Lat Aye, the Team Leader for Environmental Governance and Disaster Risk Reduction at UNDP Myanmar.

The available information is sometimes incoherent, as the existing reports were not originally compiled into one single database. An additional impediment is that the information is only available in printed copies.

Following the meeting in Pathein, the government departments will extract data from their existing records. Data will eventually be entered into the DesInvenar database, a system which UNDP is already using for similar purposes in more than 60 countries.

The Myanmar Disaster Loss and Damage Database will develop national capacities for monitoring and analyzing risks and vulnerabilities to support disaster risk reduction, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Data on disasters will therefore serve to generate risk information and contribute to informed decision-making and planning at national and sub-national levels. This is particularly so in the case of small and medium disasters, which, unlike major catastrophes, are typically absent from public consciousness.

Once set up, Government Departments in Myanmar will continue to update the database.

UNDP’s disaster risk reduction project in Myanmar aims to build disaster resilient communities by enhancing the country’s disaster risk management institutions, systems and networks. The project is designed to build preparedness, mitigation, recovery capacities of communities, as well as the civil society and local and national institutions to manage the impact of disasters, as well as the capacity to incorporate DRR into development planning.

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