Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia bordering Thailand, Brunei, and Indonesia and consists of 13 states and 3 federal territories.Geographically, it is in a stable region, outside the Ring of Fire and south of major typhoon paths. However, Malaysia is often affected by other natural disasters such as floods, landslides, haze, earthquake and other man-made disasters, as well as some rare cases of droughts and tsunami. Annually, floods account for the most frequent and significant damage and are responsible for a significant number of human lives lost, disease epidemics, property and crop damage, and other losses. Malaysia has experienced 51 natural disaster events in the last two decades (1998-August 2018). In that time period, 281 people died, over 3 million people were affected, and disasters caused nearly US$2 billion (MYR8 billion) in damages.
Malaysia has a population of over 31.8 million people contributing to rich traditions encompassing the varied cultures making up the country. The demographic context includes ethnicity, population, language, religion, and vulnerable groups. Malaysia also has a diversified economy, upper middle-income economic status and is expected to achieve a high-income economy by 2024. Malaysia, a founding member of ASEAN, participates in several ASEAN programs and initiatives including ASEAN ERAT, ASEAN Safe Schools Initiative, and to ASEAN’s Disaster Emergency Logistics System (DELSA), a repository of relief goods and supplies housed in Malaysia for countries affected by disaster in the region.
Malaysia has several vulnerable groups, including children, the poor, and displaced persons. The country also faces potential threats to population health and development due to climate change. These impacts can affect food production, water provision, ecosystem disruption, outbreaks of infectious diseases and vector-borne diseases.10 Therefore, Malaysia has incorporated several strategies and implemented a framework to mitigate these threats with planned economic and civil progress set out in the Eleventh Malaysia Plan 2016-2020. The plan also identifies disaster management resilience against climate change and natural disaster strategies.
Malaysia faces potential threats to population health and development due to climate change.
For example, communities living in coastal regions are at risk of flooding due to sea-level rise. Increased temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns may cause an increase in malaria, cholera and dengue, and heat-stress. In addition, many climate hazards and extreme weather events, such as heat waves, heavy rainfall and droughts, and inland flooding, could become more frequent and more intense due to climate change. Flooding due to climate change could cause more drowning deaths and cause indirect effects. These impacts can affect food production, water provision, ecosystem disruption, infectious disease outbreak and vector-borne diseases.
Malaysia has an INFORM 2019 Natural Hazard and Exposure risk of 3.4/10. Additionally, Malaysia had the highest percentage of the population exposed to floods among ASEAN member states between July 2012 and January 2019.
The country has recently established a new disaster management structure. In 2015, the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), in the Office of the Prime Minister, became the lead disaster management agency for regional and international disaster management efforts. The disaster management organization structure continues under three levels: federal, state, and district.
Malaysia has an early warning system for earthquake, flood, and tsunami including Short Message Service (SMS) capabilities, and other technologies to alert communities of impending disaster risks.16 Malaysia has achieved women’s improved health status, greater educational attainment, and increased participation in higher paying occupations. Additionally, Malaysia recently established the parliamentary select committee on gender and equality rights, holding its first meeting in spring 2019 with intentions to improve the WPS agenda.
With the ratification of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2012-2030), Malaysia continues to place green emphasis to reduce disaster risks in the Mid-Term Review of the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (2016-2020). Therefore, disaster risk management, including risk reduction efforts, will be intensified by enhancing the integration of DRR initiatives, strengthening disaster preparedness and increasing capacity in disaster response.