NSC directive among three main challenges in flood management requiring improvement, says PM


KUALA LUMPUR: The government has identified three main challenges in flood management which must be quickly improved, including in the understanding of the National Security Council (NSC) Directive No.20.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pic) said this was because there were weaknesses among the relevant agencies at the national, state and district levels, as well as among the statutory bodies, public sector and non-governmental organisations, in understanding their roles and responsibilities under the NSC directive for the period before, during and after a disaster.

"Close cooperation between these parties, including the state governments and local authorities, is vital to ensure the efficiency of national disaster management is at the optimal level," he said when tabling the papers on the flood disaster which occurred at the end of last year at the Special Meeting of Dewan Rakyat here on Thursday (Jan 20).

Ismail Sabri said the government had also identified weaknesses in command and control with the absence of the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) at the state and district levels, hence making it difficult to coordinate directly with the agencies in the field.

The NSC Directive No. 20 was related to policy and mechanisms of national disaster management that underlined the roles and responsibilities of each Disaster Management Committee at every level.

The Prime Minister said the existing organisational structure also limited Nadma's ability to coordinate disaster management actions involving local residents, non-governmental organisations and local authorities.

He said these constraints had made it impossible for Nadma to directly manage disasters at the state and district levels.

In addition, he said there was also a weakness in managing and collecting information related to disaster management, which was still being done in a conventional manner and not in line with current technological developments.

Ismail Sabri said this had also caused significant weaknesses in report, analysis, decision-making and data management processes.

"Dissemination of information to response teams and agencies, as well as flood victims, still need to be improved,” he said.

To improve disaster management, Ismail Sabri said he had instructed the relevant agencies to expedite the second phase development of the flood forecast and warning system by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) at 38 main river basins in the country to enable a more accurate early flood forecast and warnings to be issued.

As for public announcements, he said the best and faster methods were to issue early warnings and directives, especially to residents in low-lying and flood-prone areas, should also be improved.

"For example, it can be done using WhatsApp and push notification with the cooperation from the telecommunication companies.

"The production of flood simulation visuals and infographics should also be given attention and circulated widely through the mass and social media," he said.

In preparing food for the victims, the prime minister said retort technology can be used to prepare ready-to-eat meals for the victims as the technology enables the food to last longer as were moisture resistant.

He said the involvement of civil society organisations in a coordinated matter would also smoothen the delivery of aid and assistance to the victims, besides empowering and creating a community resilient to disasters.

As a long-term measure, Ismail Sabri said disaster risk reduction (DRR) aspects should be improved using the whole-of-society approach, which should also be adopted in all aspects of development, economy, education and health.

He said this was because disaster management was a matter that involved all quarters with Communication, Education and Public Awareness being the key elements that needed to be implemented continuously to create a culture of shared responsibility, including for the DRR.

Apart from that, he said local authorities should always play their roles such as ensuring that all monsoon drains in the urban and suburban areas were in good condition and not clogged so as to avoid flash floods.

The prime minister said he had also instructed Nadma to expedite the formulation of the Disaster Management Act.

"Besides, as the chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, I will hold meetings with all menteri besar, chief ministers, state secretaries and other state representatives so that we can come out with comprehensive long-term plans to overcome flood woes in the country," he added. - Bernama

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