A Comparative Analysis of the Post-Cyclone Scenarios of Mocha and Nargis in Myanmar

Executive Summary

  • In comparison between Cyclone Nargis and Mocha, the military regimes’ responses, and actions towards the cyclones’ management in short and long-term perspectives can be seen as not too different. Their own actions for emergency responses and rehabilitation processes remain insufficient in certain factors that lead the affected communities to be more harmful.

  • In both cases, especially for Nargis, in early warning stages, the responsibility of state authorities failed to do enough warnings and preparedness like helping the people in evacuation to safe places and supporting required or enough food to the people who are moving to temporary safe zones. Related to aid supplies in both cases, there is mishandling of assistance through their respective authorized or assigned ministries in state level, township level and village or tract level. These include stealing and abuse of aids for their own profits in different ways such as re-selling and keeping their pockets.

  • During the cyclone responses, there were significant concerns about the mishandling of aid supplies by certain individuals within the regime authorities. In Nargis, reports emerged of aid being diverted for personal gain, donated items being sold in local markets instead of reaching to those in need, and the obstruction of private relief efforts. Likewise, in Mocha, voluntary groups spoke out loud that they face similar situations of being abused of aid distributions.

  • In both cases of Nargis and Mocha, the people were dying due to the lack of required food staffs, water, or health care after cyclone-hit to their areas, but the urgent access of helps are blocked by junta even if the civil society organizations, NGOs or INGOs are ready by halting the travel authorizations. This includes a clear human rights violation.

  • The role of the non-state actor ULA/AA, a de facto authority on the ground, becomes more prominent in the response of Cyclone Mocha. The group also possesses more trust and legitimacy from the local people while the affected population is under dire need of urgent assistance.

  • It seems like Mocha gets less attention than Nargis at the international eye. In terms of numbers, more countries were interested in the case of Nargis and had more actions for helping the vulnerable population in the Nargis-affected areas. Even though the regimes did the same as the situations of Nargis in the case of Mocha including reluctance to accept the international aids and blockages of travel allowance, there is no effective international pressure or efforts in condemning the junta.

  • Unfortunately, the roles of the United Nations and ASEAN communities in the case of Mocha are less prominent compared to the Nargis. Besides, the neighboring countries such as China, India and Thailand are also more committed to the Nargis response in terms of financial contributions and action plans.

  • Western counties especially Europe, United States, and Australia in the case of Mocha contributed a smaller amount for both financial and diplomatic sectors, which is much less amount of Nargis. It can be mainly their unhappy relations with the existing military regime as they wanted not to engage by avoiding giving legitimacy. Otherwise, the roles of community based, and civil society organizations should also be worth noting.

  • The natural disaster events in Myanmar are highly political especially when it happened under the military rules. Both the state and non-state actors are in competition and conflict rather than in collaboration in a search for the common platform and solution. It can also be seen in both cases of Nargis and Mocha.

  • Myanmar, one of the most environmentally risky countries in the world, is in a state of emergency with increasing frequency and intensity of natural hazard arrival. Yet, and even at the national level, what if the rehabilitation or emergency responses are out of national capability, so that it is important to give easy access for international or regional humanitarian support from global organizations or countries to help to reduce the hazards.

  • Introduction: Why Disaster Management Becomes National security?

    Security issues, encompassing both traditional and non-traditional threats, continue to impact global human security. Efforts to address these challenges are being undertaken by various stakeholders at national, regional, and global levels. One particularly critical security concern that demands immediate attention is natural disasters. To effectively tackle these issues, it is imperative to prioritize securitization not only at the national level but also through cooperative endeavors at the regional and international levels. This collaborative approach is crucial for devising impactful solutions, especially in the areas of disaster management and prevention. However, developing nations such as Myanmar face unique obstacles when dealing with the adverse effects of natural disasters. Weaknesses in governmental and non-governmental actions further compound the challenges faced.

    Considering the vulnerability of Myanmar as one of the least developed countries, the importance of environmental security in the region becomes a crucial topic bringing to a discussion table. Myanmar faces various natural disasters such as cyclones, storm surges, floods, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, fires, and forest fires. It ranks among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change, and it is expected that the severity of natural disasters would increase in the near future. Analysis of data from 1998 to 2007 reveals that approximately 71% of reported disaster events in Myanmar were attributed to fires, followed by 10% attributed to floods, 11% to storms, and 8% to other events including earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides.1 Rainfall-induced flooding is a recurring occurrence throughout Myanmar, while specific regions face risks of landslides and drought.

    Along its history, Myanmar has experienced a diverse array of hazards, each varying in frequency and impact. Among these hazards, urban fires are the most prevalent, accounting for approximately 70 percent of all recorded disaster events. Flooding follows closely behind, constituting approximately 11 percent, with storms accounting for 10 percent. Other types of disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides, make up around 9 percent of the total occurrences.2 So, the loss and effects are worth securitizing as the impacts are deeply harmed by the society of Myanmar. The aftermath of those disasters, the lack of food, resources, and energy, the outbreak of diseases, violence was followed, and the long-term rebuilding is required. Added, according to the report of FAO, in the developing countries, the agricultural absorbs 22 percent of the total damage by the impacts of disaster outbreak. Consequently, the effects of the natural disaster can cause another securitization process in a way.

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