Asean Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve 

 The increased intensity of extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, droughts, and floods has expanded disaster risks in the ASEAN Plus Three region, which subsequently threatened people's lives and livelihoods across the region. Throughout the year 2022, natural disasters frequently occurred in several countries in the region, mostly in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, China, and Japan, which were categorised as very high natural disaster risk countries. Afterwards, natural disasters exacerbated people’s struggles, leading to regional cooperations.


Obviously, the earthquakes severely struck the Philippines and Indonesia. For example, a total of 14,300 earthquakes and 18 tropical cyclones in the Philippines, especially Tropical Storm Agaton (Megi), Super Typhoon Karding (Noru), and Typhoon Paeng (Nalgae), made landfalls and displaced over 382,000 people. Likewise, those of magnitudes 5.6 also destroyed over 50,000 houses and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, leaving them without a safe place to live or stable incomes.



Additionally, there were around four countries mostly suffering from floods and landslides: Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Floods in Malaysia submerged a total of 108 areas and buildings, forcing over 70,000 people to evacuate while displacing over 240,000 people in Myanmar. Meanwhile, floods in the southern provinces of Thailand affected around 508,000 people from 205,774 families, and left seven dead and two injured. Apart from the floods, the Batang Kali landslide was also the worst disaster in Malaysia, resulting in the second highest number of casualties (31). In addition, a total of 1,057 natural disasters in Viet Nam, such as landslides, killed or displaced around 175 people, and caused its economic loss about $825.85 million.



Besides, severe heatwaves hit China and Japan. During the summer, the most severe heatwave in China exacerbated a severe drought, especially in the Yangtze River Basin, and had an impact on food and factory production, power supplies, and transportation across the country, affecting hundreds of millions of people. Last but not least, the worst and longest heatwave was created in Japan’s record and brought temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius. The heatwave in Japan then prompted 37 million people in and around Tokyo to be asked for using less electricity and air conditioners.


Although the other five countries in the region were not listed as very high-risk disaster areas, they were also affected by the catastrophic disasters. For example, Typhoon Hinnamnor influenced heavy rains, flooding, and strong winds in several parts of the Republic of Korea. Several people were killed, and others were evacuated or went missing. In the meantime, properties were damaged, and roughly 66,000 residences lost power.



In 2023, the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) predicted that the northern region of ASEAN will have an increased chance of above-normal rainfall. Most of the region will experience wetter conditions because the wind from the La Nina phenomenon shifts from the eastern Pacific Ocean to the western Pacific Ocean, bringing more warmth, higher sea levels, and heavier rain than usual to Southeast Asia by April 2023. Smoke and haze are expected to worsen in all areas during the dry phase of monsoon. Further, following natural disasters caused by weather, member countries then conduct impact-based forecasting and establish well-functioning methods to deal with disasters such as early warning systems.



Amidst the frequent occurrence of the disasters, a mutual cooperation among the ASEAN Plus Three countries has been earnestly strengthened. One of them is the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan 2023-2027 focusing on improving knowledge exchange, building adaptive capacity, and preparing for future supplies through the development of science and technology. Consistently, the member countries have actively been supporting regional disaster-related organisations: the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), playing a vital role as the regional permanent mechanism in providing rice assistance to strengthen food security for a better quality of life in the region during disastrous emergency and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), facilitating cooperation and coordination of disaster management amongst ASEAN Member States.



To conclude, the ASEAN Plus Three countries have been affected by a number of unforeseen disasters, such as powerful earthquakes in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines; cyclones or storm in the Philippines and Malaysia; floods and landslides in Malaysia, Thailand, and Viet Nam; and heatwaves in China and Japan. In order to achieve future success in disaster management, member countries do collaborate in a variety of methods and projects. It may take a lot of time and efforts to see change, but one day in the nearest future, those struggles by the natural disasters in the region will be history.



Bussapailyn Shimphalee*

27 March 2023




* This article is a product of the APTERR Secretariat. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APTERR Secretariat and its APTERR members.




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