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Panel 17. Disaster Management in Southeast Asia

Chair: Greg Bankoff (University of Hull)

In a region heavy with natural and man-made disasters, the need to predict, prepare for, and recover from disasters is paramount. This panel examines a variety of ways in which governments in Southeast Asia prepare for disasters, address the immediate aftermath and – equally importantly but often forgotten – the long recovery process. Disasters ignore political borders, and so the challenges of intergovernmental collaboration are also tackled. Papers explore these three aspects in Central Vietnam, the Malay archipelago, and the Thai-Burmese border.

Paper 1: Flood Adaptation Strategies and Climate Change Governance in the Vu Gia – Thu Bon River Basin (Central Vietnam)

Andreas Havemann (Bonn Interdisciplinary Graduate School for Development Research)

Central Vietnam is prone to frequent floods and typhoons. The exposed population has developed different means to use, live with, and cope with the floods. In times of rapid socio-economic development, new ways of communication, technology and the altering of the river basin characteristics by hydropower development require adaptation of local knowledge. Due to the long history of disaster risk many actors work committedly on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Next to the established field of DRR old and new actors are beginning to work on CCA. This research looks at how national Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) strategies are implemented at local levels, and which adaptation strategies towards floods and typhoons have emerged.

During an eight month fieldwork period in 2011 mainly qualitative methods such as expert interviews and participative observation have been applied. This research is embedded in the larger research project “Land Use and Climate Change Interactions” (LUCCi) in Central Vietnam funded by the BMBF and focuses on the Vu Gia -Thu Bon (VCTB) River Basin in Central Vietnam. (

Paper 2: Social Exclusion in Disaster Recovery: Mentawai, Indonesia

Lishia Erza-Evans (Institute for International Health and Development)

In this paper, I will highlight the social exclusion phases in the resettlement experience in Mentawai after a tsunami hit in 2010.

Communities were instructed by the local government to resettle to higher grounds, thereby shifting livelihoods from fishing to farming. To date, they are still living in temporary structures with no certainty as to when the permanent resettlement process will commence.

Nature-induced displacement compounded by ineffective local government and public-private governance failure are multiple threats of social exclusion in disaster prone regions. Overnight, an inclusive society turned into fragmented communities, aggravated by the sea and gravely inadequate infrastructures separating these island communities. For the last two years, they have been excluded from trade, sources of income, neighbouring communities, as well as being excluded from the political processes that shape their permanent resettlement.

In this paper, I propose that in order to mitigate social exclusion risks, resettlement should be understood as a form of work, thereby putting people as active participants whose life-planning rely on the pace of resettlement. The longer the process takes the shorter is the time horizon for planning their livelihoods, thus the higher risk of multiple forms of social exclusion.

Paper 3: Landmine victim assistance on the Thai-Myanmar border and in eastern Myanmar: accessibility and prospects

Gabriela Steinemann (Chulalongkorn University)

Landmines have been a common method of warfare throughout the past decades of ethnic conflict in Myanmar. Widespread use has reportedly been made by the armed forces as well as by most armed opposition groups. Estimates indicate around 600 mine casualties per year. One of the most affected areas is that of Kayin State, from where many victims cross the border to seek medical treatment in Thailand.

This paper presents the results of both field research and theoretical analysis. It examines the accessibility of mine victim assistance services on the Thai-Myanmar border and within Kayin State. Considering that the reform and peace process has created a new context for humanitarian actors, the paper also assesses the impact of these developments on assistance provision in eastern Myanmar.

Along the border, a number of actors provide emergency care, physical rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration support to landmine survivors. Farther into Kayin State however, possibilities are more limited, and access is complicated by geographical factors, affordability and ethnic/conflict-related concerns. The landmine issue in general is negatively influencing displaced persons’ attitudes toward a future return home.

The government’s evolving approach to humanitarian matters offers positive prospects for future mine action. Nevertheless, a real improvement of victim assistance accessibility will depend on various elements related to the peace process and the political reforms.