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The Column: Monthly Disaster Review and Outlook: Volume 75, July 2021

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GENERAL REVIEW OF JULY 2021

For the month of July 2021, a total of 113 disasters were reported. The ASEAN Member States that were affected were Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. Most of the disasters (63.72%) occurred in Indonesia but these only comprised 13.32% of the total number of affected people for the month. The Philippines comprised 16.81% of the disasters for July but comprised 83.3% of the total number of affected people, largely due to the effects of the Southwest Monsoon with one instance being enhanced by Tropical Cyclone IN-FA. The share of disaster-affected people for other ASEAN Member States was as follows: (1) Cambodia-0.01%, (2) Lao PDR-0.3%, (3) Malaysia-0.02%, (4) Myanmar-2.74%, (5) Thailand-0.15% and (5) Viet Nam-0.14%. July 2021 saw disasters affecting 265 per 100,000 people* and displacing 57 per 100,000 people* in the region. July 2021 also accounted for 16.64% of the total disasters and almost half (49.76%) of damage costs reported so far in the current year.

Most of the disasters that occurred in July 2021 were floods (57.52%) and this is consistent with July of the previous year and July on a five-year average (2016-2020). July 2021 saw hydrometeorological disasters (floods, rain-induced landslides, storms and winds) dominating the disasters that affected the region for the month (79.58%). The reported disasters in the region for July 2021 in comparison with the historical data (average for June 2016-2020) indicates that there were 5.94x more reported disasters; 5.56x fewer people affected; 18.73x more people displaced; 7.73x more houses affected to some extent; 5.77x fewer lives lost; 45.5x fewer people suffering injuries; and lastly, 1.86x more people reported missing.

Geophysically, 38 significant earthquakes (Magnitude ≥ 5.0) were reported by Indonesia’s Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi dan Geofisika (BMKG), the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), and Myanmar’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH). On 1 July 2021, Mount Taal in the Philippines was raised to Alert Level 3 due to the volcano generating a dark phreatomagmatic plume 1 kilometre high (with no accompanying volcanic earthquake). The eruption of Mount Taal affected 22,433 people and caused the evacuation of 13,027 from the high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel in Batangas Province. Mount Taal is currently placed under Alert Level 2 (as of 23 July 2021). Volcanoes in Indonesia and the Philippines have shown recent activity but have not resulted in significant events (except for Mount Taal) and are continuously being monitored.

ANALYSIS

According to the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), during July 2021, rainfall in the region was a mix of lower to more than the average values from 2001-2020.(Figure 1.a). Wetter conditions (positive anomalies from average values from 2001-2020) were detected over the coastal parts of southern Myanmar, southern Cambodia, northwestern Philippines, as well as the Maluku Islands for both satellite-derived rainfall estimates datasets (GSMaP-NRT and CMORPH-Blended). Coincidentally, these were the areas where disasters were reported for July 2021 with southern Myanmar and Northwestern Philippines reportedly resulting from the effects of the Southwest Monsoon. The two datasets (GSMaP-NRT and CMORPH-Blended) were also in agreement that the largest negative anomalies (drier conditions) were over the central Philippines. However, there were some discrepancies over the western and central Maritime Continent, where CMORPH-Blended recorded drier conditions than GSMaP-NRT.

SPOTLIGHT

According to the situational report from the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, since 28 July 2021 the Southwest Monsoon has brought intense rains to multiple regions of the Philippines and has since affected 312,605 families (1,222,241 persons) from 1,117 barangays. Related incidents to the Southwest Monsoon that impacted multiple regions in the Philippines were floods, rain-induced landslides, a mudslide, an overflowing spillway and swollen rivers. 129 roads and three bridges were affected and 12 roads and one bridge remain impassable. 1,723 houses have reportedly been damaged. The estimated cost of damage to agriculture is reported to be around USD 4,686,168.51 incurred in Regions I, III, VIII, IX and CAR. With regard to infrastructure, an estimated USD 721,025.94 worth of damage has been reported. A total of 40 cities/municipalities were declared under a State of Calamity. Assistance (in the forms of financial, family food packs, other food items, family kits, hygiene kits, sleeping kits, kitchen kits, medical assistance, non-food items) worth USD 204,497.13 have been provided to victims in Regions I, III, VI, CAR and MIMAROPA.

SEASONAL OUTLOOK

With the monsoon rain band located north of the equator in August 2021, Southwest Monsoon conditions are likely to persist over the ASEAN region. Climatologically, the Southwest Monsoon is characterised by rainy conditions in the northern ASEAN region and dry weather in the southern ASEAN region. During the August to October period, the prevailing winds in the ASEAN region are from the southeast or southwest.

For the August to October 2021 period, there is an increased chance of above-normal rainfall for much of the Maritime Continent. ENSO-neutral conditions are forecast to continue for the next three months. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is in the negative phase and models are forecasting the negative IOD to also remain for the next three months. A negative IOD tends to bring above-average rainfall for the southern ASEAN region for this time of the year. Warmer-than-usual temperatures are expected for most of the ASEAN region except for Borneo and southern Sumatra where near- to above-normal temperatures are predicted.