MALAYSIA DISASTER PREPAREDNESS | The star

SMART is undertaking an operation on the Taman Bukit Permai landslide in Ampang on March 11, 2022.

DISASTERS are a major threat that can cause serious disruption in the functioning of a community and affect people’s well-being.

Apart from this, disasters, which can be caused by natural, man-made and technological hazards, can impact the development of economic, social and physical elements of a nation.

Potential loss of life, injury or property and damaged property is unavoidable in most disastrous incidents and requires strategic action planning from the respective country’s government.

In Malaysia, disaster risk management is governed by Directive No. 20, under the auspices of the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma). Nadma was established as a focal point agency dedicated to disaster management, after the country faced its worst monsoon flood that affected several states in December 2014, which affected 541,896 people with estimated losses. at RM2.6 billion.

Nadma, which falls under the Prime Minister’s Department, was formally formed on October 1, 2015, taking over from the National Security Council (NSC). It was established with the consolidation of the Disaster Management Division of the NSC, the Flood Recovery Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department and the Malaysian Disaster Assistance and Rescue Task Force (SMART ).

“Nadma, as the secretariat of the Central Disaster Management Board (JPBP), will plan its preparedness to face the northeast monsoon season every year,” said Nadma Managing Director Datuk, Dr. Aminuddin Hassim.

“Understanding and cooperation between agencies will be improved. Technical agencies such as MET Malaysia, Department of Irrigation and Drainage (JPS) and Department of Public Works will share information related to weather forecasts, status of water levels of rivers and dams, as well as at risk slopes, while the executing agencies will provide reports on asset readiness, logistics and manpower strength,” he said.

He shared that RM9.5 million from the National Disaster Relief Trust Fund has been allocated as part of the preparation for the operations of the 2021/2022 northeast monsoon season.

Out of this, RM100,000 each was distributed to the respective agencies, such as Armed Forces, Police, Fire and Rescue Department, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare, Department of Civil Defense (APM) and the People’s Volunteer Corps; RM20,000 was donated to each National Disaster Management Board (JPBN) Secretariat in 14 states; as well as RM50,000 for each committee of the District Disaster Management Board (JPBD).

“Bantuan Wang Ihsan’s one-time cash assistance to flood victims has been increased from RM500 to RM1,000, which is the first increase since it was introduced in 2016,” he explained.

Take proactive measures

Aminuddin said that Nadma also organized a session on October 5, 2021 with the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Duties) who is responsible for national disaster management with all Secretaries of State, to highlight the need for preparedness. of all disaster management mechanisms at all levels to deal with the 2021/2022 northeast monsoon season.

“Nadma practices the whole-of-society approach and conducts disaster management trainings and simulations involving response teams from various agencies, state governments, district offices and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) “, he shared.

Aminuddin holding a press conference at checkpoint of Taman Seri Muda flood incident area, Shah Alam, Selangor.

“Agencies under the JPBN or JPBD, particularly in flood-prone states and districts, will conduct programs and trainings to assess their level of preparedness in terms of contingency plans and the availability of assets belonging to the relevant agencies. for easier coordination.

“Nadma will conduct trainings and simulations with communities on personal safety measures to be taken in the event of a disaster in the region, to instill values ​​of resilience,” he said.

Among the sensitization programs organized and still ongoing is the Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM) program. This was based on a bottom-up approach involving various parties, in particular local leaders and NGOs.

“This CBDM program consists of forums and workshops, which will educate participants on the preparatory steps before a disaster occurs, the response to the warning given for the threat of disaster issued by the responsible agency, the personal security measures taken before the arrival of the relief team, the role taken in assisting the management of the relief centers and the measures taken after the affected people have been allowed to leave the relief centres.

“Last year, 8,500,645 participants comprised of community leaders, NGOs and students were involved in community-based disaster reduction management programs,” he revealed, adding that 11,420 participants had taken part in such programs until March of this year.

Citing an example on preparing for the operation, he said that as soon as MET Malaysia issued a heavy rain warning (yellow warning), the order to activate the state disaster operations control center and (PKOB) will be issued by the National Disaster Control Center to ensure smooth coordination of disaster response teams at all levels.

“Preparedness notice will also be sent to all agencies from time to time based on the latest warning alert issued by MET Malaysia and JPS. Announcement of flood warning will also be made through media and short messaging system (SMS),” he said.

He explained that PKOB Central would also provide guidance to enable all PKOB agencies and state and district responders to take actions such as: improving response in rescue operations; identify and transfer victims from temporary relief centers (PPS) that have been flooded; identify areas that have the potential to be new SDPs to replace flooded SDPs; and ensure that food and other basic necessities are delivered immediately to flood victims at the ad hoc SPP.

Regarding Nadma’s role and responsibilities during the disaster management period, he said that this includes disaster management which is divided into three levels – JPBP, JPBN and JPBD – to ensure that every issue and crisis related to the disaster is under the supervision of the authorities.

At the level of disaster management, he said it would be divided into three – Level 1 (involving an area/district), Level 2 (on a district in the same state) and Level 3 (on a state or complex ).

“It will all depend on complexity, scale, destruction and damage, affordability, expertise and assistance, and duration of action. The responsibility for coordinating all disaster management work movements in all states and districts is enabled through a state and district disaster secretariat, which is the APM.

“Nadma, as the central PKOB secretariat, is responsible for supervising and assisting state and district authorities to ensure that management is organized, coordinated and runs smoothly,” he said. he declares.

Coordination of the infrastructure with all agencies for disaster preparedness such as PPS was also done to ensure it was properly managed.

Improvements needed

Regarding the challenges, he cited the recent experience of disaster management in the Klang Valley in December 2021, which involved a weakness in terms of understanding between agencies at central, state and district levels, as well as statutory bodies, the private sector and NGOs regarding their responsibilities. under MKN Directive No. 20 before, during and after the disaster.

“Close cooperation between different parties such as the state government and local authorities is very important to ensure that the effectiveness of national disaster management is at the optimum level.

“There is also a weakness in disaster management information management, as national disaster management depends on timely and accurate information from the field.

“Currently, national disaster management still practices information gathering in a conventional way and not in line with the latest technological advancements. This situation has resulted in a significant weakness in the process of reporting, analysis, decision-making and data management. Efforts to improve the disaster management approach as well as the timely and accurate transmission of information to response agencies and flood victims need further improvement.

“Aid coordination by NGOs, private sector and individuals with the state and district PKOB should be strengthened to ensure that aid can be delivered accordingly,” he said.

On Nadma’s standard operating procedures for disaster management that the people should understand, he said that the JPBP would be chaired by the Prime Minister, the JPBN would be chaired by the Secretary of State, while the JPBD would be chaired by the district officer.

Among other things, he said the agencies responsible for disaster management during the incident would be split into the rescue agency; as well as aid and recovery agencies.

This would also be divided into three local areas: the red area (special operations area for rescue agencies with some expertise; the yellow area (checkpoint for the incident area and the posts of rescue agencies rescue and any associated government agencies with particular expertise; the Green Zone (for officers from home-based and recovery agencies and voluntary organizations and the media).

On how Nadma fends off criticism from netizens that she has failed to deal with the recent flooding incident, he said, “Information can be easily obtained from various social media which is not is not entirely true. Nadma must activate the official government channel and mainstream media (electronic and print) to disseminate correct information.

On the basic information people should know in the face of a disaster, his advice was to always be aware of the current situation by following developments through the media of weather forecasts and tides, especially those staying in the flood-prone areas.

“Keep all important documents in a safe place. Always watch your children’s movements and make sure they do not play near flooded, river, drained or mining areas. Always follow the safety instructions given by the authorities,” he said.