Most businesses in Myanmar not disaster-ready, experts say

Picture A man wades through a flooded street in Myanmar . Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times

19 Sep 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - Most businesses in Myanmar are not prepared for natural disasters that hit the country every year, such as drought, cyclones, landslides and floods, experts said.

U Soe Tun, co-chair of the Myanmar Private Sector Disaster Management Network, said private businesses still lack awareness and preparation of preventive measures against natural hazards.

He added that only about 18 percent of businesses in the country have contingency plans to mitigate and minimise the effects of disasters.

"When we conducted the survey, we found that 82pc of respondents had not made preparations. If disasters happen, the private sector and many businesses might collapse," he said.

Experts have said the floods that inundated a large part of the country this year damaged roads, bridges and houses and killed many of people. More than two million hectares of farmland were destroyed, with total damage estimated at K1.94 trillion (US$1.27 billion).

This amount is equivalent to 3.1pc of the country's GDP, based on World Bank estimates. Business people from foreign countries should make preparations depending on where they are based, U Soe Tun said.

"We can't say definitely what businesses and regions will be affected more, but every sector needs to make preparations," he said.

However, he said that not many businessmen seem interested in disaster preparedness and mitigation. "We need to carry out more awareness campaigns," he said.

The Department of Disaster Management warned that natural disasters might become more destructive in the future due to the effects of climate change. According to experts, the country could lose up to US$190 million every year from disasters.

The Asian Preparedness Partnership, which was established to help strengthen emergency responses in disaster-prone countries in Asia, such as Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, is leading efforts to raise awareness of the threat posed by natural disasters in the region.

"Preparations must be made to prevent businesses from going bankrupt because of natural disasters," said U Myat Thar of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre.

U Soe Tun urged the government to come up with policies to support preparations for natural disasters.

A recent policy discussion on disaster preparedness in Yangon earlier this month generated little from the business sector, U Soe Tun said.

But he said the participants, which included government, and local and international nongovernmental groups, came up with an action plan to help mitigate the effects of natural disasters.

"Action plans for each business sector will be drafted," U Soe Tun said. – Translated

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