Asia Pacific zone office: Development Operational Plan 2014

1. Executive Summary

Recognizing the important and positive issues on considerable developments in Disaster Management and Disaster Risk Reduction made by national societies in Asia Pacific during the last decade, the level of risks and vulnerabilities remains important especially in the following aspects:

  • Disasters frequency, scope and their complexities: The Asia Pacific region is home to more than half of the world’s population, the majority of whom are poor and among the world’s most disadvantaged. The diversity, scale and frequency of natural disasters across the region is daunting. Set along numerous fault lines, many countries in the region are often hit by major earthquakes and by seasonal typhoons and floods which kill thousands of people each year and cause severe hardship to millions more. The pressure of a rapidly growing population, forcing an increasing number of vulnerable people to live in expanding urban centres and marginal areas exposed to natural disasters, exacerbates the problem.

Recent disasters occurring in the region in the past few years have had a huge devastating impact in urban settings: tsunami in Japan; floods in Jakarta, Bangkok and Manila; earthquakes in China and Philippines. This reality is demanding to whole system in the region to include urban risk as a priority for the coming years, especially the analysis on how to adapt the existing disaster management standards, tools and mechanism to urban contexts. Building urban resilience, taking in consideration for the whole Asia Pacific system, and building community resilience, will be one of the seven key areas for the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference to be held in June 2014 in Thailand.

With some of the lowest lying countries in the world such as the Maldives, Pacific Island nations and parts of Bangladesh, the Asia Pacific zone is already amongst the hardest hit by climate change and the increasing scale and number of hydro-meteorological disasters and impending sea level rise will seriously challenge the capacities of national societies in the coming years.

  • Health and social issues: Countries in Asia Pacific are continuously experiencing socio-economic changes which continue to pose enormous challenges to the capacity of their national societies to be abreast of them and to be able to respond to their impact on public health and livelihoods. While communicable diseases remain a significant issue in many parts of Asia, non-communicable diseases have become a major challenge especially in the Pacific. In some parts of Asia Pacific, discrimination and threat of exclusion remains among indigenous communities, elderly and people living with disabilities.

  • Conflict: A number of countries also continue to suffer from armed conflicts due to ethnic, ideological and/or religious differences. In Afghanistan alone, there have been more than three decades of conflict with no short term resolution evident. Discrimination, intolerance, exclusion, and violence form part of the lives of many of the vulnerable communities across the zone.