UNDP responds to the Asia Pacific disasters

09 Oct 2009

Over the past few weeks, the Asia Pacific region has been struck by a series of multiple disasters that have killed more than 1,500 people, and affected upwards of 7 million others. UNDP, along with other UN agencies, reacted quickly, immediately deploying crisis management teams to support governments in the aftermath.

UNDP is providing emergency funds to kickstart on-the-ground coordination, disaster assessments and initial recovery plans; deploying experts in disaster risk reduction and early recovery planning; and supporting the clearing of rubble, rehabilitation of infrastructure and other crucial recovery activities.

A round-up of the disasters and what UNDP is doing in each country:

Western Sumatra earthquake (Indonesia)

More than 700 people are reported dead, and hundreds are still missing. Heavy rains and landslides have displaced thousands of people. More than 120,000 houses are reported severely damaged, and many more homes are without piped water and electricity. Because gas stations were also affected, there is an acute shortage of gasoline which is used when there is no electricity. Some local government services have also been disrupted.

UNDP quickly made available the financial support needed to begin emergency coordination and recovery activities. Its emergency response staff is also supporting Government recovery efforts with GIS mapping of the disaster areas and an assessment of the earthquake’s overall affect on lives and infrastructure.

UNDP is also setting up a government bureau in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra, to support the Government response and recovery coordination, and has deployed a waste management team from Aceh to aid in rubble and debris clearance efforts.

Typhoon Ketsana (Philippines, Viet Nam, Lao PDR)

Close to 500 people in Southeast Asia have died in the flooding caused by Typhoon Ketsana, which first hit the Philippines on 26 September. Typhoon Parma hit the Philippines less than a week later, contributing to flooding caused by intense daily rainfall that the region would normally expect over the course of a month during monsoon season. More than half a million people have been displaced. Damage to infrastructure in and around Manila is extensive, disrupting health, transport and communication services. Food, water, sanitation and hygiene relief remain the highest priorities.

UNDP quickly provided funds to support coordination of the emergency response and two UNDP disaster specialists have begun damage assessments for an early recovery project.

The UN issued a US$74 million flash appeal on 7 October, of which $4.5 million will be earmarked specifically for early recovery needs focused on community infrastructure repair, rehabilitation of priority local government facilities and support to debris and rubble clearance efforts.

Typhoon Ketsana moved on to Viet Nam, where more than 20,000 homes and 500 schools were destroyed. In Lao PDR, some 75,000 people have been affected, according to initial reports. There is also extensive damage to agriculture crops and irrigation facilities, houses, schools, roads and bridges. UNDP has offered assessment assistance to both countries.

Pacific Islands Tsunami (Samoa, Tonga)

An estimated 150 people were killed in the early morning of 29 September when several tsunami waves struck parts of the Pacific island countries of Samoa and Tonga.

The tsunami’s impact caused widespread damage to houses and infrastructure, including sea walls, hospitals, schools, roads and tourist resorts. Power and water supplies have also been affected.

Reconstruction costs in Samoa are estimated at $150 million.

UNDP immediately provided financial assistance to support initial disaster relief coordination efforts, needs assessments and early recovery plans.

UNDP’s Director for the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Mr. Jordan Ryan, has visited the region to assess additional support needed for recovery.

Earthquake (Bhutan)

Twelve people are reported dead following an earthquake that struck Bhutan on 21 September. More than 4,000 homes and 100 schools are reported damaged, along with some government offices and monasteries.

As in other countries, UNDP provided an initial sum of money to support assessment and coordination needs, and has dispatched a disaster risk reduction advisor to take part in a UN joint assessment team that is currently surveying the earthquakes effects.

Related:

12 Oct.: Crisis maps track data from Philippines, Indonesia disasters (Reuters)