NATIONAL RESPONSE TO NATURAL DISASTERS : A WORKING FRAMEWORK
Roundtable discussion: 5 August 2015
It is HAKAM’s position that victims of natural disasters have the right to live in a reasonably healthy and safe environment and something must be done to ensure in times of disaster a proper system is in place that will work towards contributing to the effective protection of their inherent right to life.
Arising from these devastating floods late 2014 which affected various states of Malaysia, the failure of the government’s disaster management machinery in assisting victims and in light of Putrajaya’s stance that “Malaysians must learn to be more self-reliant and not depend solely on government agencies to handle flood disasters”, and with the continuous suffering of the flood victims to-date, HAKAM has embarked on a special initiative which we call the National Response to Natural Disasters – A Working Framework (NR2D Framework).
The role of civil society organisations remains crucial in all phases of disaster management namely relief, response, rehabilitation, reconstruction, recovery, preparedness and mitigation.
Experience from the 2014 floods has shown that whilst Malaysians have been extraordinary in their generosity and willingness to volunteer in providing aid, there is room for major and effective improvement if all efforts are better coordinated to improve the response to natural disasters.
Better management and coordination will ensure that efforts and resources will not be duplicated or wasted and more importantly no groups of peoples or communities are inadvertently neglected.The role of civil society organisations in the national response to disaster management can be improved after gaining an insight into the strengths of each organisation as well as evaluating the flaws and weaknesses in the current methods of handling disasters.
HAKAM is now endeavouring to conduct a fact finding mission together with NGOs who participated in relief efforts especially during the recent floods in the east coast, environmental experts, environmental activists and relevant stakeholders. This is to establish and evaluate the limitations and challenges they faced during the floods and how a workable framework can be formulated for future use.
The ultimate aim of a framework is to enhance the human rights protections of victims of disasters, in various scenarios: floods, earthquakes, land slides etc. The leadership and engagement of local governments and communities, civil society, and the private sector are needed to address effectively the challenges posed by climate change, including those linked to human mobility. With a working framework, the national response to disasters may be further enhanced with better co-ordination to complement one another during relief work.
HAKAM invites representatives from civil society organisations and various corporations who have undertaken relief work or provided aid during emergencies and disasters in Malaysia (esp in the East Coast floods in 2014) to be a participant and collaborate with the other participants in drawing up a Malaysian citizens’ national response to disasters framework.
If you wish to get involved or be a participant, or wish to have more information about this initiative, please email: sec-gen[at]hakam.org.my.
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