Building preparedness for hydro-meteorological, seismic and landslide hazards in South and Southeast Asia
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar - Asian Disaster Preparedness Center has launched the third phase of its project focusing on building South and Southeast Asian countries’ capability to prepare for hydro-meteorological, seismic, and landslide hazards.
The initiative belongs under a regional disaster risk reduction program of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2009. The project will focus on building disaster risk reduction capacity in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Vietnam.
“During the past years, we have made significant progress in strengthening the South and Southeast Asian countries preparedness for seismic and landslide hazards as well as reducing the impacts of hydro-meteorological disasters,” says Mr. N.M.S.I. Arambepola, Director of ADPC. “Over the next two years, ADPC will focus on addressing the gaps it has identified while working in close collaboration with the governments in the field,” Mr. Arambepola continues.
Strengthening weather, climate and hydrological services.
As part of the project, ADPC will continue to cooperate with the Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET-Norway) to strengthen national hydro-meteorological services’ capacity in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam. The focus will be on daily and seasonal weather forecasting, climate services development, and the effective utilization of weather and climate information to prepare for and mitigate the impact of hydro-meteorological disasters.
“We have already equipped the countries with skills and knowledge necessary to utilize data visualization techniques for accurate weather forecasting. Now we will further build the hydro-meteorological services’ capacity to ensure timely and precise early warnings of disaster,” says Dr. Senaka Basnayake, Head of Climate Change and Climate Risk Management at ADPC.
In Myanmar, ADPC in collaboration with the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology aims to institutionalize a hydrological modeling system for flood forecasting and increase lead-time of early warnings for riverine floods.
“Almost two million people in Myanmar are affected by flooding every year. There is an urgent need for an accurate flood forecasting system to ensure timely warnings of floods in communities at risk,” Dr. Basnayake emphasizes.
“The DIANA visualization package introduced by MET-Norway is currently being operationalized and the detection of meteorological phenomena such as cyclones and strong winds has become much easier for us,” H.E. U Nyan Htun Aung, Union Minister for Transport of Myanmar, reflected on the achievements made during the earlier phases of the program. “The Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate also provided us with training on river flow measurements to improve hydrological observational data, which has significantly improved hydrological modeling and flood early warning systems in our country,” he added.
Preparing for earthquakes and landslides
In Myanmar and Nepal, ADPC collaborates with the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute to build the technical capacities of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology and the Department of Water-Induced Disaster Prevention respectively to assess landslide hazards, develop and establish landslide early warning systems, and mitigate potential impacts of landslides by implementing appropriate risk management strategies.
“During the project, we will work to identify critical landslide zones in pilot areas in both countries, operationalize suitable landslide early warning systems, and build awareness of landslide risks in communities,” explains ADPC’s Dr. Marqueza Cathalina L. Reyes, Head of Disaster Risk Assessment and Monitoring.
ADPC will also continue to improve seismic monitoring and preparedness for earthquakes in Myanmar. Among all the hazards facing the country, earthquakes are considered the most threatening due to their unpredictability, which makes it next to impossible to give the public an early warning.
ADPC has previously collaborated with the University of Bergen to improve the capacity of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology of Myanmar to collect and analyze seismic data and identify the best locations for new earthquake monitoring stations. In 2014, ADPC helped the department to integrate the different seismic data processing systems.
“Together with the University of Bergen, we will continue to develop specific protocols and standard operating procedures to enhance seismic data processing and dissemination for better earthquake monitoring in Myanmar,” Dr. Reyes says.