Asean to take immediate steps to combat drought in SE Asia


  • Vietnam
  • Wednesday, 11 Dec 2019

Speakers at the Building Resilience Drought South-east Asia dialogue held on Dec 10 Can Tho, Vietnam. - Vietnam News/ANN

CAN THO (ANN): Asean-member countries have vowed to take immediate action to resolve problems caused by worsening drought in South-east Asia, especially in Vietnam's Mekong Delta region, which is especially susceptible to global warming.

Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday (Dec 10) in Can Tho, Intani Nur Kusuma, senior officer at the Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Division of the Asean Secretariat, said that a declaration on drought would be adopted by leaders at the Asean Summit to be held in Vietnam in November next year.

Asean has worked closely with relevant sectors to help the Asean Committee on Disaster Management draft the declaration, she said, adding that drought-related activities need to be integrated into the future action plan of Asean.

To mitigate the impact, it was suggested that drought risk assessment and early-warning services should be improved through the sharing of data from space-based technologies.

Tiziana Bonapace, director of the Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap), told Vietnam News: “Climate change has already happened. Now is the time to adapt instead of fighting it.”

Nguyễn Trường Sơn, deputy head of the Việt Nam Disaster Management Authority, said the Mekong Delta and Central Highlands regions were facing abnormal weather that could be attributed to climate change.

No Southeast Asian country can afford to ignore drought when trying to mitigate the economic impact of natural disasters, according to experts.

Bonapace said the significance of economic losses due to agricultural drought was consistent across all countries for which data is available.

“The agricultural losses are highest in Indonesia. In Vietnam, we estimate it to be around US$6.5bil or 3% of GDP, ” she said.

According to the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019, annual economic losses in Asia Pacific more than quadruple when slow-onset disasters, most notably drought, are added to the region’s disaster risk landscape

The average annual loss is highest in Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The one-day Building Resilience Drought Southeast Asia dialogue was co-organised by the Vietnam Disaster Management Authority, Escap, and the Asean Secretariat. — Vietnam News/Asia News Network

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