News Highlights

Disaster Management in ASEAN


On January 13, 2015, Asia Society Philippines, in cooperation with the Asian Institute of Management ASEAN 2015 Project, hosted Understanding ASEAN series, Part 3: Disaster Management at the Fuller Hall, Asian Institute of Management.

The ASEAN region is one of the most vulnerable to growing impacts of climate change, such as storms, typhoon and coastal flooding. Super-typhoon Yolanda last November reinforces the urgent need for the Philippines and other ASEAN countries to identify new approaches and ways forward for disaster risk reduction. The dialogue explored disaster management in the context of ASEAN, as well as innovative bottom-up approaches to mitigate disaster risk for countries like the Philippines.

Professor Federico M. Macaranas moderated a panel discussion with speakers that included: Edgar Ollet from National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Office of Civil Defense, Dr. Marqueza Reyes, a technical advisor for Disaster Risk Reduction of ASEAN, Celina Agaton, a 2013 Google USAID Fellow, Zak Yuson, Director of MovePH Rappler, and Takaaki Kusakabe a Research Coordinator for Earthquake Disaster Prevention, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Key Takeaways:

  • EDGAR OLLET discussed the government’s efforts towards disaster management. He explained NDRRM’s Framework and how recent changes in the system has yielded better reaction to disasters. However, he also highlighted the need for further improvement. Just to name a few, he calls for: improvement of the DRRM System, development of risk financing schemes, and dynamic partnerships with foreign government and financial institutions.

  • MARQUEZA REYES, in contrast, talked about regional efforts. She went over the different mechanisms in place on the regional level and how ASEAN reacts to disasters—before, during and immediately after. She also talked about being proactive about disasters, rather than reactive, and how ASEAN conducts risk assessment and monitoring regionally. Lastly, she said that there are still gaps and challenges and reiterates the need to be “One ASEAN, one response.”

  • TAKAAKI KURASABE briefly featured the different systems in place in Japan relating to disaster management. He talked about classic mitigation methods in Japan and how planning and simple prevention can go a long way in times of need. He hopes to share knowledge with other Asian countries to exchange best practices with one another.

  • CELINA AGATON shed light on how technologies can really create a difference on how we manage disasters. Ms. Agaton provided examples of how crisis mapping help mitigate situations. Closely related to disasters, during the earthquake in Haiti, for example, crisis mapping was able to connect aid providers to those who were in need. She sees the same happening here in Asia where disasters is a regular occurrence.

  • ZAK YUSON talked about the potential of social news network. With more than a third of the population regularly connected to social networks and about 60% of people getting their information from social media, he says it’s hard to deny the potential of social news networks. He strives to provide collaborative stories, with a blend of expert opinion and the wisdom of the crowd. Mr. Yuson provided examples wherein social media had played a major role in recent disasters in the country. He says social media usage in ASEAN reflects the region’s young and dynamic population. He also says technology is reducing the cost of people-to-people interactions across mediums, while providing countless possibilities towards better disaster management.


The Open Forum gave the participants to engage the speakers by asking questions that explored the potentials and challenges of disaster management in ASEAN. After, Asia Society Philippines Executive Director Suyin Liu Lee synthesized the key points raised and emphasized the importance of sustainable development, mindset change and continually striving for improvement