A Bridge to Recovery

ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis

Myanmar, July 2009

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on 8 August 1967. The Member States of the Association are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The ASEAN Secretariat is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. For inquiries, contact: Public Outreach and Civil Society Division The ASEAN Secretariat 70A Jalan Sisingamangaraja Jakarta 12110 Indonesia Phone : (62 21) 724-3372, 726-2991 Fax : (62 21) 739-8234, 724-3504 E-mail : public.div@asean.org General information on ASEAN appears online at the ASEAN Website: www.asean.org Catalogue-in-Publication Data A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat, July 2009 363.34595 1. ASEAN – Disaster Management 2. Social Action – Emergency Management ISBN 978-602-8411-10-3 The text of this publication may be freely quoted or reprinted with proper acknowledgement. Copyright ASEAN Secretariat 2009 All rights reserved

A Bridge to Recovery:
ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Foreword by the SecretaryGeneral of ASEAN
The scale of Cyclone Nargis was unprecedented in the history of Myanmar and its effects on the people and environment will leave a wound for years to come. Yet in the midst of the destruction and the enormous human loss, there is hope that, in time, the people and areas affected will not just recover, but emerge safer, healthier and more prosperous than before. As ASEAN member countries rise to the challenge of creating a more dynamic, inclusive and caring ASEAN, our collective response to the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis – from outpourings of sympathy to the generous humanitarian assistance – may be taken as an example of the benefits that broader integration and close partnerships can yield. This publication documents ASEAN’s involvement in humanitarian assistance and disaster recovery in Myanmar, with a view to using the experience as a replicable model elsewhere in the region. Development and humanitarian challenges await us, but we can be sure that our experience in Myanmar can guide our future response, recovery and disaster risk reduction initiatives, whilst also providing valuable insights that can be shared with other regional bodies that have or may engage in similar activities. Strong regional collaboration can better serve the interests of ASEAN member countries and enhance global stability and interconnectedness. The closer we work together to solve regional challenges with effective regional solutions, the more we can look forward to greater strength, prosperity and peace.

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan (right) during his visit to Seik Gyi village in September 2008, together with Chairman of the Tripartite Core Group, U Kyaw Thu (left).


We wish to express our sincere appreciation to the Government of the Union of Myanmar, the UN agencies, and the international and national humanitarian organisations whose untiring commitment to alleviate the hardship and improve the lives of those affected by Cyclone Nargis have facilitated our progress to date. We are grateful to the ASEAN member countries for their steadfast commitment during a time that will undoubtedly shape the organisation’s approach to humanitarian relief in the future. We also wish to extend our thanks to the donor community, whose generous on-going support has assisted the affected communities in rebuilding their lives. This document is dedicated to the survivors of Cyclone Nargis, whose strength and resilience in the face of tragedy has continued to drive the recovery effort. The Coordinating Office for the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Table of Contents
Foreword by the Secretary-General of ASEAN Acknowledgements Table of Contents ii i

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms Executive Summary Chapter I: Cyclone Nargis and the Need for Action Chapter II: The ASEAN-led Coordination
2.1. Overview 2.2. Key Events

iv vi 1 3
9 10


Chapter III: Rising to the Challenge – ASEAN Engagement Post-Nargis

3.1. Assessment, Planning and Monitoring 3.1.1. ASEAN-Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) 3.1.2. Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA) 3.1.3. Periodic Review I (PR I) 3.1.4. Social Impacts Monitoring (SIM) 3.1.5. Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP) 3.2. ASEAN Volunteers – A People-Centred Approach 3.2.1. Achievements 3.2.2. Summary 3.3. Humanitarian Hub Coordination 3.3.1. Strengthening TCG Coordination Roles at the Community Level 3.3.2. Facilitating the Periodic Review 3.3.3. Bringing ASEAN Closer to the People 3.3.4. Building Safer, Disaster-Resilient Communities 3.3.5. Meeting the Needs of Vulnerable People 3.3.6. Strengthening Local Capacity 3.3.7. Summary 4.1. Challenges on the Path Towards Recovery 4.2. The Continued Role of ASEAN 4.3. The Way Forward


17 18 21 26 29 31 37 39 42 43 44 45 46 48 49 51 54 55 57 58 59 67

Chapter IV – The Way Forward


A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
ACDM ADB ADPC AHTF ARF ASEAN ATEO CBER DALA DPDC DRR DRM/R ERAT IASC IDE IDRL INGO IOM MAPDRR MIMU NDPCC NGO PONJA ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management Asian Development Bank Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis ASEAN Regional Forum Association of Southeast Asian Nations Assistant Township Education Officer Community-Based Early Recovery Damage and Loss Assessment District Peace and Development Council Disaster Risk Reduction Disaster Risk Management/Reduction Emergency Rapid Assessment Team Inter-Agency Standing Committee International Development Enterprise International Disaster Response Laws and Regulations International Non-Governmental Organisation International Organisation for Migration Myanmar Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction Myanmar Information Management Unit Natural Disaster Preparedness Central Committee Non-Governmental Organisation Post-Nargis Joint Assessment Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan RCC Recovery Coordination Centre RF Recovery Forum RH Recovery Hubs RHO Recovery Hub Office SASOP Standard Operating Procedure for Regional Standby Arrangements and Coordination of Joint Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Operations SIM Social Impacts Monitoring TCC Township Coordination Committee TCG Tripartite Core Group TDPC Township Disaster Preparedness Committee UN United Nations UNESCAP United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific UNDAC United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNISDR United Nations International Strategy for UNOCHA UNRC VTA PONREPP

Disaster Reduction United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs United Nations Resident Coordinator Village Tract Assessment

“Government” refers to the Government of the Union of Myanmar

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis



Executive Summary
The role of ASEAN in the response to and recovery from Cyclone Nargis has been critical in ensuring effective coordination of international assistance. ASEAN has been working at the strategic policy level between ASEAN, the Government and the international humanitarian community led by the UN, through the Tripartite Core Group (TCG). However, it has also extended outwards to incorporate a wide range of stakeholders at the community level through i) data collection and monitoring within the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA), the Periodic Reviews and Social Impacts Monitoring, and ii) project implementation through ASEAN volunteers and partner organisations. An overview of the effects of Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, is given in Chapter I. The cyclone left 140,000 people dead or missing and destroyed infrastructure, property and livelihoods in the affected areas of Ayeyarwady and Yangon Divisions. In the weeks and months following the disaster, the immediate needs of those affected by Nargis, such as shelter, food and medical care, were pressing and provided the rationale for the wide-scale mobilisation of national and international humanitarian aid. ASEAN was active in facilitating access into Myanmar for rescue teams and humanitarian aid through the TCG, while also providing a bridge between the international community and the Government that soon expanded. The legal basis for ASEAN’s engagement is the subject of Chapter II, which considers the importance of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER). This agreement defines the approach of ASEAN member countries towards expanding the integration of disaster management and response. Key events are also covered in this chapter, detailing the quick response of ASEAN, the Government and national and international actors in both prioritising the rapid delivery of humanitarian assistance and creating effective coordination to facilitate the emergency response and early recovery process. The ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force (AHTF) and the TCG have been instrumental in successfully coordinating a humanitarian response of immense complexity. The TCG has been acknowledged as an innovative body that ASEAN and other regional bodies can replicate in future emergency responses. It has demonstrated ASEAN’s usefulness as a bridge between the Government and the international community, which facilitates trust-building and acts as a nexus for the transfer of knowledge and locallyadapted expertise, providing regional solutions to regional problems. Chapter III details the diverse roles ASEAN has assumed in assisting the post-Nargis response and recovery, including assessment, planning and monitoring, the ASEAN Volunteer Programme, and humanitarian hub coordination. Assessment, Planning and Monitoring The ASEAN-led TCG was instrumental in commissioning the PONJA to establish baseline quantitative data on

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Nargis-affected communities to inform the programming and implementation of response and early recovery activities. The on-going Periodic Reviews will continue to guide the recovery progress. Large-scale data collection in the cyclone-affected areas presented numerous logistical and operational challenges because physical infrastructure is limited and access difficult. Effective assessment and monitoring has proven vital to guiding coordination and implementation of aid programmes, with a view to “building back better.” ASEAN Volunteers Programme Following the premise that after a disaster, ASEAN can draw on the expertise, knowledge and experience of others living in the region, the ASEAN Volunteers Programme has been established for volunteers to assist in building disasterresilient and safer communities. This has also promoted the cohesion of ASEAN. To this end, ASEAN has established three CommunityBased Early Recovery (CBER) projects in Nargis-affected areas that draw on volunteers from Myanmar and other ASEAN member countries to create a pool of experienced volunteers that can be mobilised in future emergencies.

The Myanmar CBER projects represent the first deployment of ASEAN volunteers since the ratification of the ASEAN Charter and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint. The experience of ASEAN volunteers in Myanmar has shown that the programme can facilitate cross-cultural dialogue, add value to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) initiatives and further ASEAN cohesiveness. Hub Coordination The TCG’s effective facilitation of response and recovery efforts at the national level provided an opportunity for ASEAN to strengthen its role in field coordination. In October 2008, UNOCHA and ASEAN initiated a hub co-location aimed at strengthening the TCG coordination role at the township level. This partnership was driven by a common need for collaborative humanitarian community action in close coordination with the Government. The milestones and lessons learned in ASEAN-UNOCHA’s hubs can be developed into regional guidance notes or a supplement to AADMER. At the 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 2008, the presence of ASEAN in Myanmar was extended into 2009. Chapter IV considers the way forward for ASEAN in Myanmar, noting the challenges that lie ahead in the context of the post-Nargis recovery effort. These challenges include maintaining the momentum of international support; ensuring transparency, accountability and effective communication between ASEAN, the Government and the international humanitarian community led by the UN; and refining TCG coordination to better suit medium and long-term recovery. This chapter is unequivocal on the role that ASEAN can play in disaster response and recovery – the experiences and lessons learned in Myanmar can inform ASEAN’s approach to DRR and recovery in other ASEAN countries. ASEAN is uniquely suited to tackling regional development issues based on regional approaches and expertise.


A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Cyclone Nargis and the Need for Action

Chapter I

“The leadership role of ASEAN, with the Government
of Myanmar and the UN, in the response to the devastation brought by Cyclone Nargis on 2 and 3 May, has been critical to the effectiveness of the relief effort. ASEAN has been instrumental in facilitating a coordinated response to the needs of the people most affected.”
Statement by John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the Press Conference for the Release of the PostNargis Joint Assessment Report, 21 July 2008.


On 2 and 3 May 2008, Cyclone Nargis swept in from the Bay of Bengal and struck Myanmar’s Yangon and Ayeyarwady Divisions, resulting in large-scale loss of life and destruction of infrastructure, property and livelihoods. Approximately 140,000 people were killed or unaccounted for following the cyclone. 2.4 million people – one third of the population of Ayeyarwady and Yangon Divisions – were affected by the cyclone in 37 townships covering an area of 23,500 square kilometres. Cyclone Nargis is the 8th deadliest cyclone ever recorded and by far the worst natural disaster in the history of Myanmar. Cyclone Nargis had a significant, long-term impact on people’s livelihoods and resulted in enormous physical losses, including the destruction of homes and critical infrastructure such as roads, jetties, electricity, water and fuel supplies and sanitation systems. A large proportion of water supplies were contaminated and food stocks damaged or destroyed. This damage was most severe in the Delta region, often referred to as the country’s rice bowl, where the effects of extreme winds were compounded by a 3-4 metre storm surge, which inundated broad areas of the fertile land and submerged countless villages. Nargis struck just as the Delta’s paddy farmers were at the very last stage of harvesting the so-called “dry season” crop, which accounts for 25 per cent of the annual production in the affected areas, and destroyed several rice warehouses and their stocks. The total damage and losses estimated for the agricultural sector ranged from K570,000 million to almost K700,000 million.1

Overview of loss and damage resulting from Cyclone Nargis, based on the PONJA:
□ Damage from the cyclone was estimated at USD 4 billion, with USD 1 billion needed for recovery until 2012. □ Total economic losses amounted to approximately 2.7 per cent of Myanmar’s projected GDP in 2008. □ Affected households were extremely vulnerable – 55 per cent reported having only one day of food stocks or less. Reliance on the steady flow of relief supplies was widespread. □ The scale of the impact was similar to that inflicted on Indonesia following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. □ Over 90 per cent of needs were at the community level and could be addressed through communitybased approaches. With such immense human suffering, combined with the severe social and economic toll on the affected families and communities, immediate assistance to address the basic humanitarian needs of the population was required. So too was the initiation of an early recovery programme that could make the transition into medium and long-term recovery focused on the restoration of livelihoods, assets of the poor and essential services. The national response following Cyclone Nargis was immediate but overwhelmed by the scale of the devastation. Similarly, humanitarian assistance from international agencies was available quickly but prepositioned stocks

The PONJA used an exchange rate of USD1 = K1100

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


were limited and soon exhausted. In this context, it was vital that the international community be granted access to bring in relief items for the cyclone-affected communities. Acknowledging the unprecedented scale of the disaster, ASEAN rose to the challenge and collaborated with the Government to allow international relief workers to operate in the country. The ASEAN Secretary-General approached several key ministers in the Government, requesting that ASEAN relief and rescue teams, which were on standby,

be granted permission to enter Myanmar to assist in the emergency response. This approach was in line with the spirit and commitment of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER). The Government agreed to accept the immediate dispatch of medical teams from all ASEAN member countries, providing the basis of what would become a strong and effective working partnership in the post-Nargis response.


A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


The ASEAN-led Coordination

Chapter II

confidence that the mechanism is working efficiently in facilitating distribution and utilisation of assistance from the international community to support the Government of the Union of Myanmar’s relief and recovery efforts. It also shows the Government of Myanmar’s trust in the TCG partners to continue helping the cyclone-affected people. We thank the ASEAN Leaders for acknowledging the TCG’s work and their pledge to continue supporting Myanmar in its recovery efforts.”
U Kyaw Thu, TCG Chairman and Chairman of the Civil Service Selection and Training Board of Myanmar. <<

“The extension given to the TCG reflects ASEAN’s

9 2.1. Overview
Cyclone Nargis occurred on the eve of the ASEAN Charter, a critical juncture in the region’s progressive integration. The ASEAN response was an opportunity to begin working towards the goals of the Charter, such as bringing ASEAN closer to the people and enhancing the well-being and livelihood of the peoples of ASEAN through close cooperation with civil society, and national and international humanitarian agencies. The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) is the cornerstone of ASEAN’s regional cooperation on disaster management. The Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami in 2004 and the Hyogo Framework for Action provided the momentum to expedite the finalisation of AADMER.2 This agreement – which several ASEAN states including Myanmar have ratified – is a framework to develop regional cooperation in disaster risk reduction, preparedness, response and recovery. As such, it builds upon ASEAN’s experiences in disaster relief and rescue operations, the International Disaster Response Laws, Rules and Principles (IDRL) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


ASEAN’s response to Cyclone Nargis has been in line with the spirit and purpose of AADMER, even though the 2005 agreement had not yet entered into force. ASEAN rose to the challenge by activating the Standard Operating Procedure for Regional Standby Arrangements and Coordination of Joint Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Operations (SASOP), which provided emergency assistance, situation updates, around-the-clock monitoring, and recommendations for action.

coordinated by the ACDM, was dispatched to assess critical needs in the aftermath of the cyclone. The team comprised experts with specific knowledge in coordination, water and sanitation, health, logistics and food. The ASEANERAT was deployed to complement the rapid assessment efforts by the UNDAC team and those of the Government. The ASEAN-ERAT recommended the establishment of a “Humanitarian Coalition for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis” to act as a coordinating platform for relief and recovery. 19 May 2008 At the Special Meeting of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers in Singapore, the Ministers recognised the outpouring of goodwill and the strong determination of the international community to help the survivors of Cyclone Nargis. Following the recommendation of the ASEANERAT, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers agreed to establish an ASEAN-led coordinating mechanism to facilitate the effective distribution and utilisation of incoming international assistance, including the expeditious and effective deployment of relief workers, especially health and medical personnel. To operationalise this approach, the Foreign Ministers set up the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis (AHTF), comprised of 20 high-level and senior officials from ASEAN member countries, and chaired by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan. The AHTF provided policy decisions and set the priorities and targets for the implementation of the initiative. In order to assist the AHTF in providing relevant technical expertise and inputs, an Advisory Group to the AHTF was established, consisting of representatives from Myanmar’s neighbours (i.e. China, India, and Bangladesh), the United Nations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and international nongovernmental organisations. At a later stage, the AHTF also invited representatives from the donor countries to participate in the Advisory Group.

2.2. Key Events
Immediately after the cyclone, ASEAN provided emergency assistance by coordinating the international response in collaboration with the Government and UN agencies. 5 May 2008 Forty-eight hours after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar, ASEAN member countries, under the leadership of the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, successfully extended relief assistance to the victims of Cyclone Nargis. Singapore and the Philippines dispatched experts to join the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team assembled in Bangkok. The ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta notified all relevant ASEAN focal points to be on high alert and prepare the mobilisation of emergency assistance. The Secretary-General of ASEAN appealed to all ASEAN Governments, the private sector, and civil society to help the people of Myanmar. The ASEAN Secretary-General also sought to mobilise resources to assist survivors and alleviate suffering through funds from the ASEAN Cooperation Fund for Disaster Assistance, an emergency humanitarian relief fund created by the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on 8 May 2008. 9-18 May 2008 A week after the cyclone, an ASEANEmergency Rapid Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT),

The World Conference on Disaster Reduction was held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, 18 – 22 January 2005. The main outcome of the conference, the Hyogo Declaration and Hyogo Framework for Action, represents a strong commitment from the international community to address disaster reduction and to engage in a determined, results-based plan of action for the next decade: 2005-2015.


The achievements of the AHTF working through the TCG mechanism:
□ Facilitation of unimpeded access for humanitarian workers. The TCG has granted over 3,000 visas in the past year. □ Comprehensive assessment of need, loss and damage through the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA). □ Monitoring to inform humanitarian assistance strategies and programme change to benefit affected communities through the Periodic Reviews and Social Impacts Monitoring. □ The Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP), which provides a framework for medium and long-term recovery to promote productive lives, healthy lives, and protected lives. □ TCG-endorsed projects to assist in livelihoods rehabilitation, infrastructure reconstruction and disaster risk reduction with support from ASEAN volunteers. □ Strengthening humanitarian coordination at the township level through ASEAN-UNOCHA hub co-location and collaboration to ensure focused assistance to the affected population. □ Sustaining a coordinated effort as recovery enters the medium to long-term stage based on the guiding framework articulated in the PONREPP.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


25 May 2008 An ASEAN-UN International Pledging Conference on Cyclone Nargis was held in Yangon, attended by representatives from 51 countries. This conference was a central event in building greater trust, confidence and cooperation between the Government and the international community. There was unanimous agreement on the urgent need to increase the scale of existing relief efforts significantly in order to ensure that all those in desperate need would be reached quickly and with adequate life-saving relief supplies. Furthermore, it was agreed that an effective flow of supplies be maintained for as long as necessary through the establishment of suitable logistical arrangements and an acceleration of the arrival

and distribution of vital relief goods. To manage day-to-day operations, the AHTF set up a Yangon-based Tripartite Core Group (TCG) comprised of nine representatives from the Government, ASEAN, and the United Nations, as a body for coordinating, facilitating and monitoring the flow of international assistance to Myanmar. To support the TCG, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, as Chairman of the AHTF, established a Coordinating Office in Yangon to work closely with representatives from the Government and UN under the TCG, and provide secretariat support for the AHTF.

The ASEAN-led Coordinating Mechanism
Myanmar Central Coordinating Board (CCB) ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis (AHTF) (Chaired by the Secretary-General of ASEAN) Advisory Group (UN and invited international organisations and countries)

Tripartite Core Group (TCG) Chaired by Myanmar Representatives of the Government of Myanmar Representatives of ASEAN Representatives of the UN

31 May 2008 At the first meeting of the TCG held in Yangon, the TCG decided to conduct a Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA) to determine the full scale of the impact of Cyclone Nargis and requirements for both immediate humanitarian assistance needs and medium to long-term recovery. 2 June 2008 The PONJA team entered Yangon and Ayeyarwady Divisions, facilitated by 10 commercial helicopters contracted by the World Food Programme. The helicopters played a key role in the deployment of the teams from 11 to 20 June 2008. 10–19 June 2008 The PONJA was conducted by 250 enumerators who visited 291 villages across 30 townships. 23 June 2008 A workshop was held in Yangon to elicit feedback from national and international medical missions on post-Nargis relief and early recovery. The workshop sought recommendations for future collaboration and considered future protocols for disaster management and response for medical and public health. 24 June 2008 The AHTF convened the “ASEAN Roundtable for Post-Nargis Joint Assessment for Response, Recovery and Rehabilitation” in Yangon, to serve as part of ASEAN’s efforts to help Myanmar deal with Cyclone Nargis. The Roundtable brought disaster recovery management experts from countries with similar experiences, such as Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 21 July 2008 The PONJA report was finalised for launch at the meeting of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers in Singapore on 21 July 2008. The report was released concurrently in Yangon. In addition, ASEAN’s mandate to continue its role coordinating relief and early recovery in Myanmar was extended for a further 12 months. 26 November 2008 A TCG Roundtable was organised, at which the TCG was recognised as being instrumental to the post-Nargis relief effort, providing a new way for the international humanitarian community to work in a

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


post-disaster context. It was recommended that the TCG mechanism be extended and expanded. 17 January 2009 The Fifth Meeting of the AHTF was convened to review the progress of the relief and recovery work in Nargis-affected areas. At the same time, AHTF members discussed recommendations for the ASEAN-led mechanism, including the proposed extension of the TCG beyond July 2009. 9 February 2009 The TCG launched the Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP), which complements the Government’s reconstruction plan and seeks to provide a platform for the transition from emergency relief and early recovery towards medium-term recovery. 27 February 2009 During the 14th annual ASEAN Summit at Cha-am, Thailand, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers agreed to extend the mandate of the AHTF and the TCG until July 2010. The ASEAN Secretary-General was made the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator, a role that may be activated at the request of an affected ASEAN member country in the event of a major disaster. The extension of the TCG up to July 2010 served as the platform for the TCG to further develop the existing coordination and funding mechanisms defined in the PONREPP. ASEAN reiterated its commitment to working closely with other components of the TCG to continue community monitoring through the second Periodic Review and Social Impacts Monitoring and to facilitate the implementation of the three-year PONREPP, which aims to restore productive, healthy, and protected lives for Cyclone Nargis survivors. 2 July 2009 The Sixth Meeting of the AHTF was convened in Jakarta and recommended the continuation of the TCG’s coordination role in the Delta, with an emphasis on strengthening coordination between the Government’s national development strategy and the existing recovery strategy articulated in the PONREPP.


A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Rising to the Challenge: ASEAN Engagement Post-Nargis

Chapter III

“In its response to the devastation caused by Cyclone
Nargis, ASEAN as an organisation took a bold step by proactively assuming a leadership role, both in convincing the Myanmar government to cooperate with the international community and in managing the response itself. In so doing, it has helped to open up an unprecedented level of humanitarian space. ASEAN’s approach to the post-Nargis response may well offer a model for other regional organisations.”
Yves-Kim Creac’h and Lilianne Fan, 2008, ‘ASEAN’s Role in Cyclone Nargis Response: Implications, Lessons and Opportunities’, Humanitarian Exchange, no. 41, December 2008. <<

17 3.1. Assessment, Planning and Monitoring
The TCG has been widely praised for its success in facilitating humanitarian assistance to cyclone-affected populations. The Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA) defined four principals to guide relief and recovery activities: i) effectiveness, transparency and accountability; ii) independence, self-sufficiency and capacity building; iii) focusing on the most vulnerable groups; and iv) aiming to strengthen communities sustainably. The recovery effort is now moving into the medium and longterm phases. It is worthwhile reflecting on the achievements, opportunities and challenges to date so that future policy and action may be better informed.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


3.1.1. ASEAN-Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT)
On 5 May 2008, within 48 hours of Cyclone Nargis striking Myanmar, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, called on ASEAN member countries to provide relief assistance to the survivors. ASEAN already had an established record of cooperation and a joint commitment to disaster management as articulated in the AADMER, which is a key institutional framework on disaster management in the region. Member countries, in close partnership with the UN and donors, mobilised in a short time to provide essential support to the Government and help bring assistance. Under the AADMER, the ACDM organised, brought together and deployed the ASEAN-Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) for the first time with representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and the ASEAN Secretariat. In addition, three members of the UNDAC team from Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore served as resource persons. The ASEAN-ERAT mission gathered and analysed assessment findings, and through consultation with senior government officials, provided recommendations on support for the Government. The ASEAN-ERAT, consisting of experts in humanitarian coordination, water and sanitation, health, logistics and food, together with a representative from the ASEAN Secretariat, worked over 10 days from 9 May until 18 May 2008. The ASEAN-ERAT complemented the on-going rapid assessment efforts of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team and the Government. Following the ERAT assessment, the teams from the ASEAN member countries were deployed to Myanmar to provide targeted assistance. These teams increased the capacity of the Government to implement effective aid distribution to the affected population. One of the ERAT’s recommendations was to immediately establish a “Humanitarian Coalition for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis” to coordinate and facilitate the on-going relief, recovery and future reconstruction efforts.


A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Key findings of the ASEAN-ERAT report
Presented to the Special Meeting of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers in Singapore on 19 May 2008. □ Access: The overarching concern for the international community, including other ASEAN member countries, was access to the affected areas. The possibility existed that a second wave of deaths due to disease and nutritional deficiency might take place if relief was not effectively negotiated between the international community and the Government. □ Logistics: The Government allowed international flights carrying aid into Myanmar. However, maintaining an efficient logistics pipeline in the affected areas, particularly the Ayeyarwady Delta where access by road is limited, was difficult and required specialised equipment and personnel to be effective. □ Shelters: Providing shelter and resettlement for the affected population was one of the many priorities as many people were living in cramped tents and temporary shelters with inadequate sanitation facilities. The onset of heavy monsoon rains in the following weeks compounded the problems of overcrowding, poor hygiene and the potential spread of disease. □ Water: The provision of clean drinking water was paramount. Reports suggested that large numbers of people did not have access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation. Water purification systems had to be made available to temporary settlements urgently. The need for high volume water purification systems was similarly pressing, as was the need for expertise in setting the systems up and training national staff to manage and maintain them. □ Health: There were reports of diarrhoea in the affected population. Stagnant water, a result of the flooding, increased the risks of malaria and dengue haemorrhagic fever. There was a need for on-going, continuous health surveillance and vigilance. There were reports that many of the survivors in the remote areas of the delta did not have adequate access to health care. WHO estimated that at least 60 per cent of health infrastructure in the delta was either destroyed or damaged. □ Food Security: As the monsoon season intensified, there was a critical need to plant rice in the Ayeyarwady Delta. The Ministry of Agriculture undertook a thorough evaluation and determined that replanting would have to be carried out as soon as possible if there was to be a harvest. In order to do this, rapid mobilisation of funds, equipment and saline resistant seeds, together with the resettlement of farmers, would help ensure that there would be a harvest. Failure to do so would compromise future food security, thereby resulting in the need for food aid. □ Education: The return of children to school was vital to their psychological recovery from the disaster. Data from the Ministry of Education revealed that 75 per cent of schools were destroyed or damaged in the affected areas. The strategic plan of the Education Working Group in Myanmar highlighted that temporary schools should be established immediately before long-term construction could begin.

3.1.2. The Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA)
At the ASEAN-UN International Pledging Conference that took place in Yangon on 25 May 2008, donors demanded both full and unfettered access to the affected areas for relief workers, and an objective and credible needs assessment to determine the scale of the impact of the cyclone and the requirements for both immediate humanitarian assistance needs and medium to long-term recovery. This became the responsibility of the TCG, which responded by commissioning the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA) on 31 May 2008. The PONJA was designed as a comprehensive assessment that would provide baseline data for the formulation of humanitarian and recovery programmes during early recovery, but would also be useful in medium and long-term recovery and disaster risk management. It aimed to assess the existing vulnerabilities and needs of the population living in the most affected areas, the damage to assets in all Nargis-affected areas, and the loss of income in the affected households and the Myanmar economy until assets and livelihoods could be restored to pre-cyclone levels. Specifically, the assessment identified relief and early recovery priorities for intervention in the immediate aftermath. Information was gathered across a range of sectors or “clusters” from a range of communities across the affected areas.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


The definition of “cyclone-affected” used to select the townships was based on the loss of life and/or property that had an impact on an individual’s, family’s or community’s livelihood, without any consideration for their ability to cope with the damage or loss. The PONJA relied on two approaches to gather data for its analysis: the Village Tract Assessment (VTA), a survey of households, key informants and focus groups in the worst affected townships; and the Damage and Loss Assessment (DALA), a survey to assess the impact of Cyclone Nargis on physical assets and the effect on the economy arising from the loss of such assets. The 30 townships assessed by the VTA were distinct from the 57 townships included in the DALA, in that the townships selected for the VTA had populations requiring humanitarian assistance that were identified in previous assessments. The assessment tool used in the PONJA combined key questionnaires from nine clusters: Health, Food and Nutrition, the Protection of Women and Children, Water and Sanitation, Agriculture, Early Recovery, Temporary Settlements, Education and Emergency Shelters. The questionnaires were developed through the cluster system and evaluated in a pilot survey. Two hundred and fifty enumerators were trained and visited 291 villages across 30 townships over 10 days in early June 2008 to implement the VTA assessment.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Although the PONJA was lauded as one of the TCG’s major achievements, being a reflection of close partnership, several challenges emerged throughout the process. These included policy issues such as the lack of standby technical capacity to support the conception, planning and implementation of assessments, while attempts to create assessment instruments at the global level have tended to be too complex and drawn out, with far too much expected from a broad-based assessment tool. Keeping tasks simple and realistic is essential to completing a workable, timely assessment, and providing an analysis that is useful for making appeals and decisions on programme and funding in a timely manner.

Key findings of the PONJA report
The preliminary findings of the PONJA were presented at an ASEAN Roundtable in Yangon on 24 June 2008 and provided the basis for a revised Flash Appeal, which was launched in New York on 10 July and requested USD 303.6 million. On 21 July 2008, the occasion of the 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, ASEAN and the UN jointly launched the final PONJA report. □ More than half of the households living in the most affected townships lost all food stocks during the cyclone, with 55 per cent of households having one day of food stocks or less. □ While more than half of households reported that they were able to secure food from local markets, this did not preclude their dependence on humanitarian assistance. □ More than 65 per cent of households surveyed reported health problems among household members during early June 2008. Among the most commonly reported diseases were cold, fever and diarrhoea. Injuries sustained during the cyclone were surprisingly low at 8 per cent, although 23 per cent of households reported mental problems following the cyclone, with large variation across townships from 6 to 51 per cent. □ An estimated 50 to 60 per cent of public schools, including monastic schools, were destroyed or damaged. In addition to the many casualties and mental trauma suffered by children, the use of schools as emergency sites further strained limited educational resources. Food security and the risk of acute malnourishment were therefore of high concern. □ Vulnerable groups in the aftermath of the cyclone faced severe challenges. Problems included: i) the loss of documentation and essential papers, making it difficult for people to secure assistance and restart their livelihoods; ii) an inflow of predominantly male migrant workers into the Delta, which exacerbated a gender imbalance created by the cyclone and further increased vulnerabilities for women, and; iii) potential pressure to engage in high-risk occupations in search of income.


A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


3.1.3. Periodic Review I
Following the PONJA, the TCG commissioned a series of interim assessments, or “Periodic Reviews”, to gauge change in the cyclone-affected population over 12 months. Each Periodic Review seeks to inform humanitarian assistance strategies by providing relevant data on the situation and needs of the affected people. The comprehensive geographic and multi-sector coverage of the Periodic Review pioneers a new approach to post-disaster needs assessment and monitoring. The Periodic Reviews are meant to provide objective, credible data that can serve as a measure of the degree to which humanitarian relief and early recovery efforts have succeeded in meeting the needs of people living in the Nargis-affected areas. The first Periodic Review was undertaken in November 2008 and the second in June 2009. Each Periodic Review covers the same geographical area as the PONJA, in 30 townships. Periodic Review I used the VTA as its baseline for comparison. selected and 22 households chosen within each of the communities for assessment. In total, 2,376 households were assessed.

The first round of the Review improved on the methodology of the VTA in two important ways. First, the question and sampling method were adapted so that wherever possible a comparison could be made with the VTA. Second, a qualitative “plug-in” assessment was included that was designed to collect more detailed information about vulnerable populations in cyclone-affected areas, with the quantitative survey being used to direct follow-up intervention. In common with the VTA, the sampling area covered the areas worst affected by the cyclone and was divided into equal non-overlapping areas using a hexagonal lattice and a spatial distribution approach. The community nearest to the centre of the hexagon was selected using post-Nargis satellite imagery. Using this method, 113 communities were

The first Periodic Review assessed the humanitarian relief and early recovery efforts in Nargis-affected areas. It complemented the PONJA and provided data nearly six months after the cyclone. The implementation of Periodic Review I at the hub level was facilitated by the ASEAN Hub Coordinators based in four locations: Yangon, Pyapon, Bogale and Labutta. The Periodic Review teams faced several challenges in implementing the assessment, including difficulties with logistics, timeframes, reviewing the questionnaires, translation, and the participation of, and consultation with, multiple partners. A consultation on the next Periodic Review was convened in Yangon on 11 February 2009 to solicit feedback from the Periodic Review I survey teams so that future assessments could be improved. These teams suggested several improvements to the questionnaire covering terminology, scope and design, while also pointing out the value of reviewing, updating and providing greater technical explanations on a number of the indicators. They further highlighted the need to develop greater interpersonal skills and improve the depth of the analysis and presentation of the data for the Periodic Review II.

Key findings of Periodic Review I
□ The areas covered by the survey were affected to varying degrees and the situation of the surveyed communities prior to Cyclone Nargis was not homogeneous. It was therefore not possible to attribute the results exclusively to the cyclone. □ Indicators for the health sector revealed good results for access to health care and outreach into communities. However, the findings raised concerns about the functioning of the health system. □ Food aid had reached every surveyed community along the path of the cyclone. However, food insecurity persisted in the South-West and around Yangon. This may reflect chronic problems, in addition to the impact of Cyclone Nargis. □ High proportions of households remained in inadequate shelters that were often overcrowded and offer little protection from the elements. □ Across the survey area, the majority of households were using an improved (safe) water source or treating their water effectively, with the exception of a small area south of Yangon. □ With the end of the monsoon season, households were using less rainwater and more surface water. Increased dependence on surface water and the salination of ponds caused by the storm surge could result in water shortages during the dry season. □ Livelihoods were disrupted across the affected area. Recovery will take several years due to the nature of the losses suffered and the breadth of need. □ The breadth of geographic coverage was not sufficient to meet all needs. The persistence of need, even in areas that received substantial aid, meant that the breadth of that assistance was not yet sufficient and greater efforts were required for needs to be met.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis



3.1.4. Social Impacts Monitoring (SIM)
In addition to the Periodic Review, which represents a process and programme to monitor results primarily using quantitative survey methods, the TCG also approved a community monitoring assessment, known as the Social Impacts Monitoring (SIM). The SIM constitutes a complementary, qualitative monitoring of the social impacts of Cyclone Nargis and the aid effort.

In-depth qualitative fieldwork was conducted with over 1,500 people in 40 villages in eight townships in the Delta between late October and late November 2008. The research was conducted in three rounds: a pre-test in eight villages, where the methodology was refined, and then two rounds of 16 villages each. Villages were selected using a number of criteria aimed at getting as accurate a representation of villages in the Delta as possible. In each village, researchers interviewed a wide range of people. Overall, the research teams conducted 222 formal “key informant” interviews, 159 “focus group discussions”, with an average of seven to eight people each, and 102 informal discussions.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Key findings of the SIM report
□ Similar to the Periodic Review I, the SIM found that relief and recovery assistance had reached even the most remote villages. All affected villages sampled had received assistance within two to four weeks. □ Levels of aid varied between and within villages. Although there was a correlation between the level of aid received and the level of damage and loss, villages far from urban areas generally received less aid. □ The types of aid most frequently received were food, household goods, shelter and farming supplies. A link was found between the amount of aid received and the speed of recovery. However, the level of damage and loss was a large determinant of recovery. □ As time has passed, needs have changed. According to villagers, the most important need was to reestablish their livelihoods and food security, which is in line with the findings of the Periodic Review I. □ The most recurrent theme across all the affected villages studied was an increased burden of debt. Possible reasons for this include the continued depression of local economies, increased migration out of villages and the Delta, farmers and fishermen losing their land use or fishing rights, and the redistribution of assets to the few. □ Although relief assistance reached all villages, much more assistance was needed for communities to recover. If people’s livelihoods and the village economies do not recover quickly, there are likely to be profound long-term impacts, such as migration out of Delta villages and the destruction of communities. □ The participation of the villagers in cyclone-affected communities in aid management has been limited, leading to a mismatch between provided aid and local needs. □ The depth of geographic coverage was not sufficient to meet all needs. The persistence of need, even in areas that received substantial aid, means that the depth of that assistance is not yet sufficient and greater efforts are required if needs are to be met. □ The SIM underscored the need for future aid to be delivered in ways that build on local strengths, that give communities real decision-making power in how that aid is delivered and used, that include effective information and complaints-resolution processes, and that enable communities to advocate for their own needs with aid providers.

3.1.5. The Post-Nargis Recovery & Preparedness Plan (PONREPP)
As immediate humanitarian needs were increasingly met and early recovery was underway, the focus gradually shifted towards the medium-term recovery and the re-building of lives and livelihoods in a sustainable manner. The PONREPP was a response to this progression, providing a framework for the international community to consolidate their progress and promote durable recovery in the affected areas in ways that complement the Government’s reconstruction plan. The PONREPP outlines a three-year recovery plan from 2009 through 2011, taking a community-based, people-centred approach to promote productive, healthy, and protected lives while also strengthening aid coordination, management, and tracking to promote maximum aid effectiveness. The report was officially launched on 9 February 2009 in Bangkok. The PONREPP considers the communities of the Delta both as beneficiaries of assistance and as key implementers at the centre of the recovery process. Hence the basic criteria for assessing and improving assistance processes and systems are: (i) the difference that target beneficiaries see in terms of amount, suitability, effectiveness, and timeliness of assistance, and (ii) greater cost efficiency. The scale of the destruction from Nargis has accentuated the need for continued commitment to support sustainable recovery from all stakeholders. The TCG High-Level Roundtable on Post-Nargis Relief and Recovery Efforts in Myanmar held in Yangon in November 2008 noted that a realistic timeframe for recovery, based on experiences after disasters of a similar scale, including the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, would be four to five years. In this context, a subject under discussion was how to ensure the future coordination of recovery efforts during a period which includes the PONREPP’s own three-year timeframe. A number of coordination mechanisms currently exist at various levels. Field coordination was facilitated by UNOCHA

and ASEAN in six hub locations, with participation of NGOs and the respective Township Coordination Committees (TCCs), which are government bodies established to coordinate the humanitarian response at the township level across the affected area. From 1 July 2009 the hubs were consolidated into TCG Recovery Hub Offices (RHO) in four key locations.3

“ The PONREPP provides us with a framework for

the medium and long-term post-Nargis recovery effort, including the priorities of supporting food security and livelihood recovery, improving public health, restoring economic and social infrastructure, and integrating disaster risk reduction into the recovery process.”
Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). <<

While the relief and early recovery activities have much to inform the long-term recovery phase, major issues facing those efforts as addressed in the PONREPP are: □ Defining what an enhanced coordination architecture should be, including increased government presence. □ How to improve accountability, taking into consideration the lessons learned from the relief efforts to date, and how to create the best processes and capture the best expertise available for the recovery phase. □ How to move to a more streamlined and cost-effective coordination and oversight mechanism as quickly as possible, which includes achieving delivery efficiency. □ How to mobilise new resources while limiting the number of funding channels.

UNOCHA established six sub-offices in the following locations: Bogale, Labutta (covering Labutta and Myaungmya), Mawlamyinegyun (covering Mawlamyinegyun and Wakema), Pathein (covering Pathein and Ngapudaw), Pyapon (covering Pyapon, Kyaiklat and Maubin) and Yangon (covering affected townships in Yangon Division and Dedaye).

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Proposed Structure
The PONREPP has adopted a holistic approach to enhancing the recovery effort. To ensure the effective coordination and implementation of recovery efforts, it suggests the TCG consolidate its key roles in two ways: i) strategic and operational coordination; and ii) aid funding coordination and aid tracking. The proposed architecture includes a Recovery Forum (RF) as a deliberative body with wide stakeholder membership, meeting every two or three months to make recommendations concerning post-Nargis recovery. A Recovery Coordination Centre (RCC) will serve both the RF and the TCG as a technical unit for information, data collection, and analysis, thus streamlining current arrangements in these areas and adding further expertise. The RCC will be in close contact with the Recovery Hub Office (RHO) in the field, building on the hub structure developed during the emergency response in order to strengthen two-way information flows. The recovery field hubs will give technical support to the TCCs to strengthen existing coordination structures in the recovery phase at both the township and village level, while recognising, encouraging and learning from community level decisionmaking and implementation. Following the launch of the PONREPP and the TCG’s endorsement of its Operational Handbook in April 2009, a Transition Team, comprising members from the Government, ASEAN, UN, and NGOs was set up to manage and guide the implementation of various tasks during the transition phase. The Transition Team undertook a number of activities, laying the foundation for activating the RCC and helping shape the various forums within it. A number of consultations have been held with all the clusters in Yangon, with additional field consultations in the hubs, and special sessions organised to explain the PONREPP architecture. Notably, a workshop was held on 21 May 2009 to share the PONREPP with various Government agencies, where participants explored ways to promote synergy between the PONREPP and the recovery plan of the Government, and ways to build greater transparency and accountability into the implementation of these plans both in Yangon and the townships. A seamless transition is now taking place in the townships, with the twin-hub system implemented by UNOCHA and ASEAN merging into a unified system that will assume and augment existing hubs and their resources under the sole leadership of the RCC, with administrative assistance from ASEAN and UNOCHA. In the meantime, a consolidated budget using extant resources has been prepared to start the implementation.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis



A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Towards Better Engagement and Coordination
ASEAN has been fully engaged in post-Nargis operations, beginning with the emergency phase, into the early recovery phase, and now towards medium and long-term recovery. Looking back at its activities to date, ASEAN has contributed to several important milestones, including the deployment of the ASEAN-ERAT; providing leadership, structure and legitimacy to the Nargis response; organising community monitoring assessments such as the PONJA, Periodic Reviews and Social Impacts Monitoring; and engaging in, and contributing to, the development of the PONREPP. ASEAN’s experience in the post-Nargis relief and early recovery efforts clearly indicates that with committed partners working together under a suitable body – in this case the TCG – significant achievements can be made, despite the challenging and complex nature of the tasks. Furthermore, strong working partnerships at all levels can provide greater coordination and increase the effectiveness of the implementation of relief. As recovery has moved towards the medium and longterm phase, ASEAN’s role as a neutral party has remained central to facilitating policy dialogues among stakeholders in critical areas such as education, food security, DRR, disaster preparedness and shelter. ASEAN will continue to play a role under the political umbrella it has created. The TCG has provided a bridge for better coordination and understanding between the Government and the international humanitarian community. Existing regional organisations and arrangements should be used to build regional capacity in disaster management and humanitarian assistance.

3.2. ASEAN Volunteers – A People-Centred Approach
In addition to its role in the TCG, Cyclone Nargis presented an opportunity for ASEAN to enact its commitment to a people-centred approach through its ASEAN Volunteers Programme. Provision for this approach is enshrined in the ASEAN Charter, which states that the organisation seeks “to promote a people-oriented ASEAN in which all sectors of society are encouraged to participate in, and benefit from, the process of ASEAN integration and community building”, as well as the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint for the years 2009 – 2015. The mobilisation of ASEAN volunteers in Myanmar following Cyclone Nargis marks the first deployment of the programme since the ratification of the two documents. The ASEAN Volunteers Programme can be used to assist in building disaster-resilient and safer communities, in addition to promoting ASEAN-wide unity. To this end, ASEAN established three Community-Based Early Recovery (CBER) projects in Myanmar, the first of which was established in August 2008 and drew volunteers from Thailand and Myanmar.4 To date, the CBER projects have mobilised 18 ASEAN volunteers from five ASEAN countries, including Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines. In each project, ASEAN volunteers – deliberately chosen from mixed, professional backgrounds – work in teams of six, comprising three from Myanmar and three from other ASEAN member countries. The TCG-endorsed projects seek to address the early recovery needs of the communities involved. The ASEAN volunteers work closely with the ASEAN coordination team at the hub level to provide information from the field, assist in the development of project proposals, and are responsible for initiating dialogue between local authorities and communities.

The projects were funded by the ASEAN Cooperation Fund and Norwegian Fund.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Partnerships with other development and humanitarian organisations are part of ASEAN’s approach towards project implementation. For example, a TCG-endorsed project covering five villages in Hayman Village Tract, Bogale Township, was implemented by Mingalar Myanmar, a local NGO specialising in disaster risk reduction. Supported by ASEAN Volunteers, the on-going project promotes the plantation of mangroves, provides livelihoods and builds infrastructure. Started in January 2009, the project will be completed by August 2009. In Pyapon, a TCG-endorsed project covering six villages in Tha Leik Gyi Village Tract was implemented in cooperation with International Development Enterprise – Myanmar or “IDE/M”. The project addressed the immediate needs of small-plot farms and landless households – identified as particularly vulnerable – through the provision of agricultural inputs and the reconstruction of community infrastructure, such as schools, monasteries and public markets.

After Nargis I was struggling because I didn’t have another job or source of income to support my family. Now I’ve received a boat and fishing nets from ASEAN so I can maintain an income. I’m grateful to ASEAN for giving me the opportunity to have a boat and nets. I’m now planning to save money to buy land to build my own house because at the moment we’re living with my aunty. ”
U Aung Mo, 30, Seik Gyi Village <<

39 3.2.1. Achievements
The objectives, achievements and details of the three TCG-endorsed CBER projects are summarised in the following table.
Title Location Period Partner Status Budget ASEAN Volunteers Project 1 TCG Pilot Project, Seik Gyi Village Commu- TCG Pilot Project, Tha Leik Gyi Village Tract: Rebuilding Small Farm Livelihoods during the Dry nity-Based Early Recovery Project Season ASEAN Volunteers Project 2 ASEAN Volunteers Project 3 TCG Pilot Project, Hayman Village Tract Community-Based Disaster Risk Management

Seik Gyi, Myat Lay Yone, Naung Wine and Tha Leik Kalay, Mae Nyo, Tha Leik Chaung, Tha Tha Htay Gone, Kyone Lout Thit, Kyone Lout Gyi, Kyun Chaung villages. Tawkhayan West vil- Leik Myaung and Poe Swar villages. Tha Leik Gyi Nga Man Chaung and Pa Tat/ Kan Su villages. lage tract, Kungyangon Township village tract, Pyapone Township Hay Man village tract, Bogale Township August – November 2008 December 2008 – April 2009 IDE, Myanmar (INGO) Completed USD 193,731 (budgeted) Phrase I: January – May 2009 Phrase II: June – August 2009



Mingalar Myanmar (national NGO) USD 199,040 (budgeted)

Size of 1,318 people, 288 households, 325 families Community Objectives

USD 138,725 (actual)

Phase I – Completed. Phase II – On-going 1,899 people, 438 households

3,650 people, 995 households

□ □

Rehabilitate livelihoods and reconstruct micro infrastructure in the community.

□ □ □ □

Set up a pilot project to share knowledge and experience at the villages, township, divisional and TCG levels.

Provide rural households with significant. income gains.

Improve household food security and reduce dependency on food aid.

□ □ □ □

Develop a DRM action plan and raise awareness.

Rehabilitate employment opportunities for landless households. Improve agricultural production.

Facilitate village community discussions on improving community assets. Provide livelihood support packages to 65 per cent of the village community, and provide wage employment in building village self-help infrastructure with community engagement. Plant mangroves.


“Build Back Better” utilising a communitybased early recovery approach.

Targeted Results

□ □ □

Fishermen can earn up to USD 170 per month during the peak season, according to their skill and the market. Infrastructure improvement.

Provision of 1,000 saplings/household (at the rate of 100Ks per sapling) to 159 household families).

□ □

A community-led approach with community participation and feedback through periodic need assessment and progress monitoring surveys with closer collaboration with ASEAN hub team. 300 farm households provided access to power tillers, diesel, fertilizer and paddy treadle pumps.

A community-based early recovery approach to identify needs. Provision of DRM training and expert assistance in mangrove plantation.

□ Community awareness on DRM mangrove □ Seedling Community leaders and Community □ □
Based Organisations. Initial DRM action plan and mangrove planting plan produced in each community. plantation for shore protection.

□ □

For an average household creating a surplus of 140 baskets of rice, worth K4000 Kyat (USD 3.40) per basket, average household income generated from dry season paddy production can total USD 476 or an estimated total income of USD 142,800 for the 300 households. Average household income generated from vegetable production can total USD 200 or an estimated total income of USD 10,000 for the 50 vegetable-growing households. Infrastructure improvement.

Improvement of community infrastructure and distribution of livelihood items.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


ASEAN Volunteers Project 1 Input Evaluation

ASEAN Volunteers Project 2

ASEAN Volunteers Project 3

ASEAN volunteers, cash funds, betel seeds, ASEAN volunteers, cash funds, seeds, power ASEAN volunteers, cash funds, mangrove seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, fishing boats, fishing tillers, fertilizers, irrigation pumps, construction trainers, livelihood items, cash grants, fishing boats gear, construction tools and materials. tools and materials. and gear, construction tools and materials.

□ □
Evaluation Outputs/ Outcomes

ASEAN volunteers conducted field and resource monitoring, and tracked finances and quality of output. Regular observation of each project was made to evaluate progress and improve processes.

□ □

Survey interviews to gather information from villagers. Suggestion box and survey questionnaires developed by IDE.

Project monitoring, measurement and statistical methods used. Project analysis and reporting.

Avoidance of overlap in the distribution of livelihood items through use of a community map. Likert scale questionnaire and group discussion used in evaluation meetings.

□ □ □ □ □ □ □

34 fishing boats with drift nets for Seik Gyi village and an additional 29 fishing boats and 31 drift nets for Mayt Lay Yon village. Monastery hall rebuilt as cyclone shelter. Monastery walkway entrance and stupa hall also reconstructed. Renovation of Ordination Hall. Three toilets built and two MSP drinking water tanks installed within the monastery compound in Seik Gyi village and three toilets built in Kyun Chaung village.

Break-even point at 4.5 months. Monthly income up to 200 USD per household.

□ □

1,100 acres of paddy prepared. Provision of 11 hand power tillers and 255 gallons of diesel. Distribution of 1,152 bags of fertilizer to 472 rice paddy farmers covering 944 acres of paddy. Estimated 103,840 baskets (2,160 metric tons) of rice paddy worth approximately USD 224,672 of income for the whole village tract or 476 USD per household. Provision of vegetable seed packets to 170 vegetable growers. Potential income generation of approximately 200 USD per household in the village tract.

□ □

□ □

436 households received livelihoods supports in the form of animals, sewing machines, small scale trading assistance, gardening and farming, fishing boats and gear, artisanal tools.

DRM action plan produced during a 2-day community-based DRM awareness workshop. Further 4-day awareness workshops conducted in all villages. 500 villagers trained.

33 wells renovated and two reservoir tanks installed. DRM workshops, an initial preparedness plan and 25 ducks provided by project partner Mingalar Myanmar. Betel leaf lessons learned document.

Construction/renovation of small-scale infrastructure, including improved roads in Tha Leik Gyi, Tha Leik Kalay and Mae Nyo, ii) repaired footbridges in Tha Leik Chaung, Tha Leik Too Myaung and Poe Swa and iii) improved farmto-market road.

□ □ □

Seven bridges, three jetties, five water ponds, four village roads, gas fires, electricity and telephone lines and community centres built or improved through the use of local labour. One dam improvement. Approximately 64,000 mangrove plants planted and a support plan created. Mangrove plantation and preservation with community engagement. Establishment of a village committee for Disaster Risk Management and Disaster Preparedness. The creation of five community centres, one of which functions as a nursery/primary school.


A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


3.2.2. Summary
ASEAN volunteers are making a valuable contribution to communities, complementing the assistance provided by the Government and national and international organisations. The ASEAN Volunteers Programme guarantees daily interaction between the volunteers and Myanmar nationals, promotes transparency and creates a space for meaningful community participation that over time fosters trust, confidence and cohesion, in the spirit of ASEAN’s peoplecentred approach. The ASEAN Volunteers Programme can be expanded through the creation of a database of ASEAN volunteers that can be mobilised at short notice in the event of a disaster in one or more ASEAN countries. If the programme is expanded in the future, then ASEAN volunteers can play an important role in strengthening ASEAN expertise in DRR.

“ The best thing about this project is that

the ASEAN volunteers are living together in our village ... they know what we really need, our concerns as part of our families. I will always remember their strong commitment to rebuild our village through mass meetings. The villagers are now more active in community consultation activities.”
U Maung Naing, Tha Leik Gyi Village Tract Leader. Recognising the efforts of the project and the ASEAN volunteers. <<

43 3.3. Humanitarian Hub Coordination
The TCG’s effective facilitation of relief and recovery efforts at the national level presented an opportunity for ASEAN to further strengthen the coordination between the Township Coordination Committees (TCCs) and humanitarian agencies working in affected communities. At the 4th Meeting of the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force (AHTF) held on 12 July 2008, participants agreed to a proposal to establish TCG-Integrated Regional Hubs. The proposal was subsequently submitted to the 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, held on 21 July 2008, as part of the AHTF Chairman’s Recommendations. The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held in Singapore in July 2008 extended the mandate of the TCG for another year to continue the relief and early recovery phase. It also endorsed the establishment of a coordination structure for the regional hubs and a mechanism to facilitate the Periodic Reviews and recovery planning. In October 2008, four ASEAN Hub Officers were stationed in the regional coordination hub sub-offices, which UNOCHA had established, to replicate the TCG at the community level and to further strengthen coordination amongst TCG members, the Government, and other national and international humanitarian agencies. Hub sub-offices were established to facilitate township coordination in Bogale, Labutta, Pyapon and Yangon. This chapter elaborates on milestones at the field level, where ASEAN has defined its role through its involvement in communities and partnerships. Activities in the field have centred on TCG-endorsed community projects, capacity building and advocacy to local government on behalf of communities.

months in ASEAN’s humanitarian operations in Myanmar have shown ASEAN’s potential as a regional mechanism in the international

“ The achievements of the past nine

humanitarian arena, that ASEAN can play proactive roles in bridging national interest and international assistance, and is increasingly competent to coordinate complex humanitarian operations. It has put substance to the ASEAN Charter and has brought ASEAN closer to the people. ”
Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN <<

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


3.3.1. Strengthening TCG Coordination Roles at the Community Level
ASEAN’s presence in the hubs serves to promote the TCG coordination mechanism through close collaboration with UNOCHA and the Government at the township and village level. The collaboration of ASEAN and UNOCHA hub teams has led to a major improvement in the quality and breadth of information from coordination meetings, at which minutes are written in both English and Myanmar. ASEAN teams colocated in the hubs also play an important role in facilitation of meetings and provision of logistical support. Each hub faces a different set of hurdles, so that the activities and achievements of each vary. However, all hubs have succeeded in strengthening coordination under the TCG by maintaining a positive relationship with the local government authorities and UNOCHA. Since ASEAN co-located with UNOCHA in Labutta, the hub has been successful in having the District Peace and Development Council (DPDC) chair the general coordination meetings. Addressing concerns and exchanging information are the key goals of the meetings so greater access to local authorities for international staff can improve the flow of information among key stakeholders. In the Yangon hub, ASEAN initiated regular coordination meetings in Kyauktan Township, one of the townships affected by Cyclone Nargis. With the support of the township authorities, ASEAN and UNOCHA successfully established regular coordination activities beginning in October 2008, resulting in more coordinated assistance to the affected communities.

ASEAN and UNOCHA hub co-location. Map shows the coverage of each hub.


3.3.2. Facilitating the Periodic Review
The TCG instituted the Periodic Review as a means of assessing, monitoring and reporting on the situation and needs of the people and communities affected by the cyclone. The Periodic Reviews I and II were jointly led by ASEAN, in consultation with local government authorities. Data collection at the household level is the principal responsibility of the hub teams. During each household survey period, the hubs are responsible for ensuring credible information flows from the hub to Yangon, organising safe and accurate logistical plans, and observing strict guidelines concerning research ethics. Detailed planning and close coordination with the local authorities and humanitarian community have helped avoid major complications. Logistics planning for selected survey villages has been enhanced through collaboration with UNOCHA, MIMU, and township authorities. The implementation of the first Periodic Review in November 2008 provided an entry point for the hub teams to introduce and make themselves familiar to stakeholders. Furthermore, the Periodic Review was the first opportunity for each hub to acquaint itself with the geography of its respective working area and enhance the capacities of hub team members for community monitoring and logistics management. For example, in the Bogale hub the Periodic Reviews have been instrumental in strengthening relationships with the government officers, NGOs and UN staff, while allowing the team to create a good rapport with stakeholders in the Township. In the Yangon hub, the Reviews have been catalysts for the hub team to cover an area larger than the existing coordination hub structure. This has allowed the team to explore and develop contacts in places where no coordination mechanism was yet in place. The Yangon hub has also helped UNOCHA and the MIMU in the development of a database of township profiles, particularly in the northern townships in Yangon Division.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


3.3.3. Bringing ASEAN Closer to the People
ASEAN hubs are vital in promoting ASEAN’s goals at the community level. The hubs foster better communication between the AHTF in Yangon and humanitarian communities in the affected townships. Apart from facilitating coordination between local authorities, NGOs and stakeholders, each hub is also mandated to promote ASEAN within communities. Since Myanmar is a relatively new member of ASEAN, raising awareness about the role of ASEAN in the region is important.5 Since establishing the hub offices, ASEAN’s profile has improved substantially at the community level owing to the distribution of visibility materials, the consistent presence of the AHTF, and the professionalism of the hub staff. Efforts have been made to explain ASEAN’s mission in Myanmar, especially at village meetings where such information may not be common knowledge.


Myanmar became a member of ASEAN on 23 July 1997.


A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


3.3.4. Building Safer, Disaster-Resilient Communities
With recovery now focused on the medium and long-term, and the second rainy season since Cyclone Nargis having already started, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is now a priority. ASEAN relies on the hubs to promote DRR through the organisation and facilitation of DRR-related training in both larger towns and in villages. DRR training projects seek to prepare communities for future Nargis-type events and other natural hazards such as drought, floods, fire, earthquakes and landslides. The nature of support for DRR differs in each hub, depending on the local needs and the cooperation of other agencies. The capacity in each hub likewise differs and comprehensive DRR activities covering the township level are not always possible owing to a shortage in human personnel and capacity. In Labutta, the hub has helped the township DRR committee through involvement in DRR Technical Working Group Meetings and DRR training sessions, which has also involved members of the Township Disaster Preparedness Committee (TDPC). The Yangon hub has been involved in the development of a Myanmar Action Plan for DRR (MAPDRR), which will provide a comprehensive national framework on DRR activities at all levels.

3.3.5. Meeting the Needs of Vulnerable People
Working closely with communities over the past nine months, ASEAN has witnessed the plight of those made vulnerable by Cyclone Nargis. In Labutta, ASEAN was instrumental in persuading local authorities to allow greater access to information, invaluable to project planning for populations displaced by a disaster. The vulnerability and livelihood constraints the population faced in Ah Mar village in Pyapon Township provided one of the key motivations for ASEAN to intensify its partnerships with the Government and other agencies. An initial dialogue with the TCC chairman involved the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), ASEAN and UNOCHA and sought to address the immediate concerns at the community level. Continuous engagement with the local authorities resulted in the provision of land for 60 temporary shelters, constructed by UNHCR and Solidarité, a French NGO, with latrines provided by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Similar activities were also conducted in Yangon, where the hub was involved in inter-agency activities, such as providing hygiene kits in Dedaye Township following an outbreak of skin disease among children.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


3.3.6. Strengthening Local Capacity
To re-affirm the hub mandate to strengthen the TCG and bring ASEAN closer to the people, many hub activities have been implemented to strengthen the capacity of local NGOs, government authorities and villagers. Hub staff members have been involved in various trainings and workshops including the Sphere, humanitarian accountability, report writing, field coordination and the use of GPS.6 In the Labutta hub, there are many organisations working to provide training. However, many of them found it difficult to find suitable locations to conduct their trainings. In response, the hub financed and established a training hall which local organisations and communities can use without charge. In the first six months the training hall hosted more than 12 training sessions and accommodated over 400 participants. In Pyapon, ASEAN worked closely with UNOCHA and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) through its “Consultation Workshop on Disaster Risk Management/ Reduction (DRM/R)” on 6 April 2009. The workshop brought together 54 participants from NGOs, UN agencies and Government departments from Pyapon and Kyaiklat Townships. The workshop sought to reach a common understanding on DRM/R among the humanitarian agencies and Government officials; the ASEAN regional context on DRM/R and initiatives in relation to Myanmar; existing and planned DRM/R activities by different humanitarian and UN agencies in Pyapon District; on measures to prepare for the upcoming monsoon season by the Assistant Township Education Officer (ATEO); and a decision on some initial steps to form a DRR/M Consultative Working Group or Forum to further promote DRM collaboration and knowledgesharing.

Sphere was launched in 1997 by humanitarian NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement. It identifies minimum standards that should be attained in disaster assistance across five sectors: water supply and sanitation, nutrition, food aid, shelter and health services.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis



A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


3.3.7. Summary
Throughout ASEAN’s nine-month involvement in hub operations, township authorities have demonstrated greater openness to sharing information and active participation in activities in areas where access for outsiders may be limited. Mr. Antonio Massella, UNOCHA Deputy Head of Office and Field Coordinator observed that, ‘‘Close coordination between the hub humanitarian community and government authorities was strengthened with the presence of ASEAN Hub Officers at the field level. ASEAN’s co-location with UNOCHA completes the representation of the tripartite structure at the field level. This had marked benefit to collaborative actions with local authorities that translated into real gains for vulnerable populations.” ASEAN Hub Officers are paving the way towards adding value to existing mechanisms at the township level, addressing gaps together, and exploring opportunities with local authorities by building trust and confidence, despite facing problems with geography, non-parallel expectations and challenging mandates.


A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


The Way Forward

Chapter IV

mechanism to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis and pledged to continue supporting Myanmar in its recovery efforts following the launching of the PostNargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP). We also welcomed the decision of our Foreign Ministers to extend the mandate of the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force (AHTF) and the Tripartite Core Group until July 2010.”
Chairman’s Statement of the 14th ASEAN Summit, Cha-am, Thailand – February 2009. <<

“We welcomed the success of the ASEAN-led

57 4.1. Challenges on the Path Towards Recovery
Achievements have been made but much remains to be done in helping to build back the lives of those affected by Cyclone Nargis. Significant efforts have been made to ensure that aid reaches survivors of the cyclone. Basic education has been re-established for over half a million children, food aid has reached over one million people, and 930,000 patients have received health consultations, with no significant increase in morbidity. However, 130,000 families – equal to half a million people – are living in vulnerable shelters that may not withstand another monsoon season, while agriculture remains one of the least-funded sectors in the response, and progress in the rehabilitation of livelihoods for landless households remains slow.7 To address these gaps, the TCG must work to accelerate assistance in Nargis-affected areas. The TCG has successfully facilitated international assistance for cyclone-affected areas in the relief and early recovery phase. However, as the recovery phase has set in, the original mandate of the TCG has not been adjusted to satisfactorily meet the shifting development context. If not addressed urgently this will impede the work of the international community, working together with national partners and communities. It is necessary for the mandate of the TCG concerning the coordination of resources and the facilitation of access to Nargis-affected areas to evolve. The momentum of assistance established among the international community during the early months of the relief operation must be recaptured. USD 691 million is required for the three-year recovery process described in the PONREPP. Donor support pledged to date needs turning into firm commitments. The recovery experience after other disasters has shown that the receiving of international assistance depends strongly on the effectiveness of the coordination and implementation structure in place. The post-tsunami recovery process in Indonesia – where 93 per cent of the USD 7 billion in international pledges was received – demonstrates this phenomenon. The Indonesian government put in place a transparent and accountable coordinating structure supported by the international community. Ensuring that assistance is effectively targeted to those in need is key to inspiring donor interest and commitment.

The Revised Appeal was launched on 10 July 2008, appealing for USD 477 million to cover 103 projects in such sectors as Agriculture, Education, Food, Health, Protection of Women and Children, Shelter, and Water and Sanitation. As of 8 June 2009, 67% of the requirement in the Revised Appeal was met.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


4.2. The Continued Role of ASEAN
ASEAN’s engagement following Cyclone Nargis is an example of how a regional system can complement and strengthen coordination between a national government and the international community. □ ASEAN understands the local development context of the region in terms of its history, social and cultural endowments, geographical characteristics and economic institutions. This knowledge is valuable to ASEAN’s approach to its relief and recovery efforts and can better define the principles of “build back better” in a postdisaster recovery process suited to the local context. The approach of “building back better” necessitates the incorporation of DRR into the existing policies of the affected country. In this respect, ASEAN can promote greater involvement of and support from neighbouring countries in providing and exchanging knowledge, experience and expertise. The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) will serve as a framework for this exchange. □ The ASEAN-led TCG facilitates international humanitarian assistance in Myanmar. ASEAN facilitates communication between the international humanitarian community and the Government at all levels. ASEAN works at the highest policy level, such as at the ASEAN-UN International Pledging Conference, the AHTF, and the TCG. At the local level, ASEAN coordination works through its hub offices established in the affected townships, which strengthen coordination between the international community and local government. □ ASEAN facilitates the monitoring and evaluation of relief and recovery activities. ASEAN led the development of the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA), which provides baseline information for reviewing, monitoring and evaluating relief and recovery efforts. The Periodic Reviews and the Social Impacts Monitoring reports assess humanitarian needs in affected areas, the pace of recovery and the socio-economic impact of recovery activities. ASEAN should continue to facilitate the monitoring and evaluation efforts in the recovery stage. □ ASEAN supports the development and implementation of the PONREPP. In partnership with the UN and the international humanitarian community, ASEAN has been deeply involved with recovery in Myanmar by helping the development and implementation of the Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP). The PONREPP, which outlines a threeyear recovery plan from 2009 to 2011 and complements the Government’s reconstruction plan, takes a peoplecentred approach in promoting productive, healthy, and protected lives for the people affected by Cyclone Nargis.

59 4.3. The Way Forward
The mandate for the ASEAN-led coordinating mechanism has been extended to July 2010, giving rise to four needs: i) to strengthen the TCG structure; ii) to secure greater donor support; iii) to bring ASEAN recovery programmes closer to the needs of the affected people; and iv) to link the recovery effort to the country’s long-term development framework.

Improving the TCG Coordination Structure
The authority of the TCG should be expanded in terms of coordinating resources and operations, and monitoring and evaluating relief and recovery activities. A seamless transition in the coordination structure from the relief to the recovery phases requires the adaptation of the existing structure so that it may better cope with the complex and challenging recovery process ahead. The improved structure must be efficient and inclusive under the TCG, in which ASEAN, the Government and the UN play an integrated coordinating role. The structure of the TCG facilitates the creation of effective policies, budgets, operation coordination, and in-field operations. The new structure must build on the existing TCG coordinating units rather than establishing new entities, and must accommodate the views of all stakeholders fairly, including donors and NGOs. Furthermore, to better facilitate international assistance, the TCG should be responsible for providing access to areas affected by the cyclone. As defined in the PONREPP, an effective TCG in the recovery phase should: □ Coordinate the Recovery Forum, in which all recovery stakeholders can engage in strategic discussions on recovery in Nargis-affected areas.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


□ Facilitate and monitor funding for recovery implementation in a transparent, accountable and participatory manner. □ Manage a unified Recovery Coordination Centre that can effectively coordinate and execute recovery programmes and activities. □ Facilitate recovery activities in the field through the Recovery Hub Office and Township Coordination Committee (TCC). At the Recovery Forum level, the existing role of the TCG needs to be broadened to accommodate issues relevant to the acceleration of the recovery phase as it moves into medium and long-term recovery. An effective Recovery Forum should have: □ ASEAN and the UN to support and work in partnership with the Government. □ Greater Government engagement. □ Effective representation and active participation of relevant stakeholders, including donors and NGOs. □ Commitment to address strategic/relevant policy issues concerning recovery of Nargis-affected areas. □ Commitment from all participants to follow the outputs. The existing processes for obtaining funding should be continued and acknowledged within the TCG coordination mechanism. If new funding mechanisms prove necessary they must be coordinated with existing ones. For programme coordination, the new Recovery Coordination Centre (RCC) will benefit from lessons learned during the relief phase and will also make use of the coordination mechanism established during recovery after the Indian Ocean Tsunami. The RCC can benefit from such resources as MIMU, the Periodic Reviews, the Social Impacts Monitoring report, and the work of Recovery Working Groups.

An effective Recovery Coordination Centre must: □ Establish a database on recovery programme coordination, which can also be a donor assistance database. This database will include information on planning and monitoring and evaluation, and will build on the database system established by MIMU during the relief operation. The system can adopt the model applied in the Aceh-Nias recovery programme. □ Create a unified unit/secretariat connected to the Recovery Forum, Recovery Coordination Centre and Recovery Hubs. □ Participate in the budgeting and allocation of funds from donors and stakeholders, with a view towards implementation. □ Effectively collaborate with Government programmes. □ Effectively monitor and evaluate the use of funds and maintain a transparent auditing system. At the field operation level, the Recovery Hub system should build on the collaboration of ASEAN and UNOCHA. Only one coordination system at the hub level is necessary to support the TCCs. Cluster meetings at the township level are being consolidated to accommodate the presence and leadership of district and township representatives and the international community. An effective Recovery Hub must: □ Possess an effective coordination structure at the hub level, supported by the RCC and Recovery Forum, which will also serve as a problem solving body. □ Promote strong hub teams, which can benefit from the experience of ASEAN and UNOCHA collaboration during the relief operation. □ Facilitate programme implementation by agencies in affected townships. □ Cooperate effectively with TCCs. A unified and integrated recovery coordination mechanism at all levels is vital. The multiple secretariats that have worked during the relief operation under ASEAN, the Government and the UN, or others should be integrated under the TCG system. The AHTF office in Yangon must be strengthened so it may better work with the UN coordination system under the UN Resident Coordinator (UNRC) and the Government.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


ASEAN and UN Shared Roles

Tripartite Core Group ASEAN, Government of the Union of Myanmar, United Nations

Recovery Forum



Recovery Coordination Centre


Pyapon Recovery Hubs



Township Coordination Committees

Securing Donor Support in the Recovery Process
The international community supported the establishment of an AHTF Office in Yangon and the creation of the TCG mechanism. The mechanism depends on their continued support. The international community continues to engage in the coordination mechanism and implementation of the recovery programme through: □ Participation in the Recovery Forum, which should allow greater engagement of the international community in the discussion of policy and strategic issues related to post-Nargis recovery. □ Sharing relevant expertise needed in the recovery process. □ Continuation of funding support. □ Participation in recovery implementation oversight. □ Participation in the RCC. □ Participation in working groups and cluster meetings at the Yangon and hub levels. □ Communication with all TCG stakeholders. There are five areas in which ASEAN’s involvement is necessary: □ Livelihoods: agriculture, fisheries and employment, including the development of village level infrastructure. □ Shelter: to engage in efforts to facilitate safe housing and settlement. □ Improving services in education. □ Health service improvement. □ Disaster risk reduction with a focus on community-based DRM. At the Recovery Forum level, ASEAN member countries can play a strategic role in the post-Nargis recovery phase through the transfer of knowledge and experience. The successful recovery following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand can provide an example for Nargisaffected areas. ASEAN member countries can support the

Bringing ASEAN Recovery Programmes Closer to the People
The TCG has now been extended until July 2010 to continue the coordination of international support in the post-Nargis recovery process. ASEAN member countries should support and contribute to the process to ensure an effective working mechanism that is capable of addressing recovery challenges. ASEAN member countries should demonstrate their full support to the continued recovery process by committing new pledges.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


TCG by engaging in policy dialogue based on the lessons learned from Nargis recovery. Within the framework of the AADMER, other ASEAN member countries can also share their experience and expertise in promoting their disaster risk reduction initiatives. At the budget facilitation level, ASEAN member countries should contribute to the running of the TCG coordination mechanism. At the recovery coordination level, ASEAN member countries can transfer their own tools including a database, aid tracking and recovery management information systems, and monitoring and evaluation, for utilisation in the RCC. ASEAN member countries can give tasks to experienced officials with assisting in the management of the RCC.

The Government is expected to assume a greater leadership role in coordination and should carry out the following: □ Provide sufficient authority to the TCG so that it may better conduct its role in facilitating support to the Delta. □ Outline clear policies and regulations related to international assistance to the Nargis-affected areas. □ Contribute sufficient resources and actively participate in the RCC. □ Facilitate hub/township level coordination and actively engage in solving problems on the ground.

Coordinating Post-Nargis Recovery Efforts with the Government’s Development Strategy
The extension of the TCG mandate provides an opportunity for ASEAN to engage in a recovery policy dialogue on Myanmar at the regional level. Following the framework of the ASEAN Charter, this dialogue would ensure progress towards realising an ASEAN Community by 2015, and a regional commitment to achieving the “Millennium Development Goals” by 2015.8 Myanmar will benefit from capacity-building support provided by regional neighbours, donor agencies and international organisations. Commitment from donors and international development partners is essential to the sustainability of the recovery effort, which depends on their on-going integration into the country’s long-term development strategy. International donors have demonstrated a greater readiness to cooperate with Myanmar in humanitarian relief following Cyclone Nargis. However, many remain reluctant to commit resources for long-term development. ASEAN will be vital in forging pragmatic partnerships between the Myanmar Government, the region and the international community. Moving from the relief phase to the recovery process, ASEAN will need to continue to develop strategic partnerships with the international community for the post-Nargis development effort. The AHTF is working closely with the Government to create a coordinated strategy for development with Myanmar within the framework of the ASEAN Charter following the expiration of the TCG mandate. ASEAN will support regional development cooperation initiatives by ensuring that its post-Nargis efforts are closely coordinated with the UN and other international development actors.

To achieve this, ASEAN needs to further define its strategy – following the framework of the PONREPP – to guide the recovery process in Myanmar in a manner that explicitly links recovery to long-term development while enlarging the role of respective ASEAN member countries in the recovery process. The TCG mandate has only been extended until July 2010. Concrete initiatives for regional cooperation, which can link recovery and development


The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that respond to the world’s main development challenges. The MDGs are drawn from the actions and targets contained in the Millennium Declaration that was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state and governments during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


in Nargis-affected areas, must be quickly formulated and implemented. Accordingly, an appropriate institutional framework will be required to deliver this refined strategy, requiring adaption of the AHTF and TCG to support this new phase. At the 6th AHTF Meeting held on 2 July 2009 in Jakarta, members agreed to adapt the role of the AHTF to improve communication with Government ministries concerning the synchronisation of the recovery plan and the country’s development framework. To this end, the AHTF and TCG

must work closely with relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement; Ministry of Planning and Economic Development; Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. The 6th AHTF Meeting encouraged ASEAN member countries to support the implementation of coordinated recovery and sustainable development programmes, focused on capacity building, to ensure a smooth transition from the ASEAN and TCG to the normal Government mechanism.

67 References
AHTF, 2008, Report of the First Meeting of the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis, 25 May 2008, Yangon. AHTF, 2008, Report of the Second Meeting of the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force, 29 May 2008, videoconference. AHTF, 2008, Report of the Third Meeting of the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis, 25 June 2008, Yangon. AHTF, 2008, Report of the Fourth Meeting of the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force for the Victims of Cyclone Nargis, 12 July 2008, Singapore. AHTF, 2009, Report of the Fifth Meeting of the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force, 17 January 2009, Bangkok. AHTF, 2009, Report of the Sixth Meeting of the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force, 2 July 2009, Jakarta. ASEAN Volunteers, 2008, TCG Pilot Project: Seik Gyi Village Community – Based Early Recovery, Yangon. ASEAN Volunteers, 2008, Pilot Project Seik Gyi Village Communitybased Early Recovery Project Report, Yangon. ASEAN Volunteers, 2008-2009, Tha Leik Gyi Bi-weekly Reports, Yangon. ASEAN Volunteers, 2008, Proposal: Community Based Early Recovery, July 2008. ASEAN Volunteers, 2009, TCG Pilot Project Hayman Village Tract Community-based Disaster Risk Management Monthly Reports, January 2009 – May 2009, Yangon. ASEAN Volunteers, 2008-2009, TCG Pilot Village Tract: Rebuilding Small Farm Livelihoods during the Dry Season Bi-weekly Reports, December 2008 – April 2009, Yangon. ASEAN Hub Coordinators, 2009, Bi-weekly Hub Reports, October 2008 – June 2009. ASEAN Secretariat, 2009, Chairman’s Statement of the 14th ASEAN Summit: “ASEAN Charter for ASEAN Peoples”, Statement, 1 March 2009, Cha-am, Thailand. ASEAN Secretariat, 2009, ASEAN Stresses the Importance of Wider Involvement from Line Ministries in Implementing Post-Nargis Recovery in Myanmar, Press Release, 2 July 2009, Jakarta. ASEAN Secretariat, 2008, ASEAN Charter, Jakarta. ASEAN Secretariat, 2008, ASEAN Socio-Cultural Blueprint, Jakarta. Belanger, J., & Horsey, R., 2008, ‘Negotiating Humanitarian Access to Cyclone-affected Areas of Myanmar: A Review’, Humanitarian Exchange, no. 41, December 2008. Blewitt, R., Creac’h, Y., Kamal, A., Pujiono, P., and Wegerdt, Y., 2008, ‘The Village Tract Assessment in Myanmar, July 2008: Lessons and Implications’, Humanitarian Exchange, no. 41, December 2008. Coordinating Office for the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force, 2009, Post-Nargis Humanitarian Assistance, March 2009. Creac’h, Y., & Fan, L., 2008, ‘ASEAN’s Role in Cyclone Nargis Response: Implications, Lessons and Opportunities’ Humanitarian Exchange, no. 41, December 2008. IDE/M, 2008, TCG Pilot Village Tract: Rebuilding Small Farm Livelihoods during the Dry Season Project Proposal, IDE/M, Yangon. Mingalar Myanmar, 2008, TCG Pilot Project Hayman Village Tract Community-based Disaster Risk Management Project Proposal, Mingalar Myanmar, Yangon. Office of the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, 2009, The UN calls for increased support to the affected – one year after Cyclone Nargis, Press Release, April 2009, Yangon. Palmstrom, B., 2009, ‘Food output on rise, says report’, The Myanmar Times, February 9 to 15. Statement by John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the Press Conference for the Release of the Post-Nargis Joint Assessment Report, 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, 21 July 2008, Singapore. Summary Record of the High-level Roundtable on Post-Nargis Relief and Recovery Efforts in Myanmar, November 26 2008, Yangon. Summary Record of the Workshop on Cooperation and the Way Forward for PONREPP Implementation in Myanmar, May 21 2009, Yangon. Taylor, DAD., 2002, ‘Signs of Distress: Observations on Agriculture, Poverty, and the Environment in Myanmar’, paper presented to Burma Reconciliation in Myanmar and the Crises of Change conference, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C.

A Bridge to Recovery: ASEAN’s Response to Cyclone Nargis


Taylor, DAD., 2005, ‘Reducing Poverty through Smallholder Agriculture in Burma/Myanmar: What can be done?’, paper presented to Challenges and Opportunities: Providing Assistance to People in Burma/Myanmar conference, Brussels. Tripartite Core Group, 2008, Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA), July 2008. Tripartite Core Group, 2008, Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP), December 2008. Tripartite Core Group, 2008, Post-Nargis Periodic Review I, December 2008. Tripartite Core Group, Social Impacts Monitoring I (SIM), December 2008. Tripartite Core Group, 2008, Tripartite Core Group Mandate Extended for One Year, Press Release, 4 March 2008, Yangon. Tripartite Core Group, 2008, TCG Launches First Periodic Review of Humanitarian Relief and Early Recovery Efforts in Cyclone Nargis Affected Areas, 19 October 2008, Yangon. Tripartite Core Group, 2008, Periodic Review Factsheet, 25 October 2008, Yangon. Tripartite Core Group, 2008, Periodic Review FAQ, Yangon. Tripartite Core Group, 2008, TCG Report Reviews the Current Situation for Cyclone-Affected People, Press Release, 19 December 2008, Yangon. United Nations, 2009, Cyclone Nargis – 1 Year On, Key Achievements in Facts and Figures, April 2009. United Nations, 2009, Cyclone Nargis – Key Information Per Sector, April 2009. United Nations. 2009, Nargis 1 Year On – Q&A, April 2009 UNESCAP, 2009, Senior UN Official Stresses the Importance of the Right Framework as Post-Nargis Recovery Moves to the Next Phase, Press Release, 9 February 2009, Bangkok.

Contributing Writers: Adelina Kamal Anggiet Ariefianto Hnin Nwe Nwe Chan Joseph Viandrito Kyaw Myat Tha Lwin Lwin Aung Mai Phuong Tang Natthinee Rodraksa Naw Primrose Dr. Niken Gandini Philipp Danao Sok Phoeuk Thaw Thar Khaing Wanna Suksriboonamphai Dr. William Sabandar

Photography: ASEAN Hub Coordinators ASEAN volunteers Christopher Davy Periodic Review/Ohnmar Win Periodic Review Enumerators Editing and Design: Christopher Davy

On 2 and 3 May 2008, Cyclone Nargis swept in from the Bay of Bengal and struck Myanmar’s Yangon and Ayeyarwady Divisions, resulting in largescale loss of life and destruction of infrastructure, property and livelihoods. Approximately 140,000 people were killed or unaccounted for following the cyclone. Cyclone Nargis is the 8th deadliest cyclone recorded and by far the worst natural disaster in the history of Myanmar. Acknowledging the unprecedented scale of the disaster, ASEAN rose to the challenge and actively collaborated with the Government of Myanmar to allow international relief workers to operate in the country. Since then, the organisation has played an instrumental role in coordinating both the initial response to the disaster and the transition towards medium and long-term recovery.

Printed in Bangkok July 2009