Building Resilience to Drought in South-East Asia: A high-level national multi-stakeholder policy dialogue in Myanmar

18 Nov 2019
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
By invitation only

The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019 shows that annualized economic losses in Asia and the Pacific more than quadruple when slow-onset disasters, most notably drought, are added to the region’s disaster risk landscape (‘riskscape’). The average annual loss (AAL) for the region is $675 billion, of which $405 billion, or 60 per cent, is drought-related agricultural losses. The key takeaway is that economic losses due to disasters are larger than previously estimated with most of this additional loss linked to the impacts of slow-onset disasters in the agricultural sector.

In South-East Asia, the average annual loss (AAL) is higher than the Asia-Pacific regional average, reaching $86.5 billion with drought accounting for 60 per cent. The AAL is highest in Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Vietnam (CMLV), and the Philippines. The dominance of agricultural drought-related losses is consistent across all countries in South-East Asia. Thus, no South-East Asian country can afford to ignore agricultural drought when mitigating the economic impacts of disasters. Furthermore, agricultural drought does not only result in large economic losses; it is also linked with low levels of socio-economic development.

These findings reinforce the key messages of the joint study carried out by the ESCAP and ASEAN secretariats under the auspices of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM). The study (2019), entitled Ready for the Dry Years: Building Resilience to Drought in South-East Asia, projects that there will be many more dry years ahead, and the area affected by drought is likely to shift and expand. Its key message is that while drought may be inevitable, more suffering is not if timely interventions are made. The study was released at the thirty-fourth meeting of the Committee in April 2019 hosted by the Government of Myanmar in Mandalay. During the launch of the study, several delegates had recommended that in-country multi-stakeholder dialogues involving high-level policy makers would be helpful in imparting policy urgency and accelerating momentum on the priority actions needed at the national and regional levels.

Led by the Department of Disaster Management of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, a national multi-stakeholder dialogues will be held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar to communicate the study’s key findings to government ministries and other development stakeholders; highlight the perspectives of various stakeholders vis-à-vis drought occurrence, impacts, and solutions; exchange solutions and good practices from Myanmar and other countries; and agree on the next steps for ASEAN-wide actions and strategies for building resilience to drought. The dialogue is being organized with support from ESCAP and the ASEAN Secretariats.