The 2011 typhoon season in South East Asia took a heavy humanitarian toll. Five countries (Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao PDR), already affected by successive storms and tropical depressions in mid-2011, endured the consequences of two major typhoons (Nesat and Nalgae) in the space of 5 days between September and October.
Extensive typhoon-induced floods across the region caused deaths, displacement and widespread economic damage. The Mekong area experienced the worst flooding since 2000. In Thailand floods affected 2.4 million people in 30 provinces out of 77. In Cambodia, 70% of the country was inundated and 46,000 families displaced. Vietnam had 330,000 affected people and Lao PDR had 430,000.
In the Philippines, the most heavily stricken country, 4.1 million people in 7 regions (35 provinces) of Luzon endured the consequences of Nesat and Nalgae, resulting in 1 million IDPs. On 18 December 2011, the Philippines was furthermore hit by Severe Tropical Storm Washi. The storm killed at least 1256, destroyed 48,499 houses and displaced over 400,000 residents in the north of Mindanao, a region not among the most frequently stricken by natural disasters, torn by a long-lasting internal conflict, and with the highest poverty levels in the country. The occurrence of Tropical Storm Washi, which caused 1.7 billion PHP (40 million USD) in damage to property and infrastructure, added up to an already dire situation, stretching national response capacities to their limits.
More in general, due to the severity of the floods, national response capacities in all countries came under severe strain. At the end of 2011, the scale of the disasters across the region allowed forecasting the need for additional humanitarian assistance in 2012, in order to fill gaps in national and international response, and with a view to help the most vulnerable populations regain a minimum level of self-sufficiency.
Given the frequency of natural disasters in South East Asia, and taking into account the increasing trend in natural calamities, including of a small scale nature, the occurrence of similar scenarios cannot be excluded for the future.
In addition to their devastating humanitarian impact, natural disasters have systemic negative economic implications and can jeopardise long-term development efforts in low income or low middle income countries such as Lao PDR (138 in the Human Development Index - HDI), Cambodia (139 HDI), Vietnam (128 HDI) and the Philippines (112 HDI). In addition to disruptions to the workforce, all these countries faced ruined farmlands and large infrastructural damage as a result of the floods
In southern Philippines, storm Washi impacted largely on urban areas (Cagayan de Oro, liigan) but also on remote Moro and indigenous communities, some conflict-affected, causing increased vulnerabilities, weakened coping capacities, and a higher degree of mobility. Clashes between the Government of the Philippines and Muslim ('Moro') separatists in Mindanao - one of the oldest internal armed conflicts in the world - have displaced over 2 million people since 1970. Notwithstanding a cessation of hostilities in July 2009 and ongoing peace talks among the parties, the context remains volatile.