Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Malaysia involves the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, sustainable management of land and the environment and improved preparedness of individuals, community and agencies to face disasters. The National Security Council (MKN) of the Prime Minister’s Department is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the effectiveness of the disaster management mechanisms in the country as mandated by MKN Directive 20.
In Malaysia, the disaster management cycle has been modified to suit existing legislative directives, promote consistent practices and accommodate practitioners from multidisciplinary backgrounds. The cycle comprises the following five phases: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
Disaster Prevention(Pencegahan Bencana) focuses on long-term measures for reducing or eliminating risk. Such measures include mainstreaming disaster risk reduction, legislation, land-use regulations, standards, guidelines and insurance as well as measures to reduce underlying risk factors. Aspects of prevention include identification of disaster prone areas and vulnerable populations, development of early warning tools, communication of risks to policy and decision-makers as well as the public, engaging stakeholders and providing regulations on evacuation. Prevention is the most cost-efficient method for reducing the impact of hazards.
Disaster Mitigation(Mitigasi/Peredaan Bencana) is the effort to prevent hazards from developing into disasters altogether or to reduce the effects of disasters through physical constructions. Mitigation measures encompass structural measures such as the use of technological solutions like flood levees, coastal barriers and other engineering structures.
Disaster Preparedness(Kesiapsiagaan) essentially involves informing the public about disaster risks and what to do in the event of a disaster. Information of this kind can be incorporated into the education system, starting from the kindergarten stage. In the preparedness phase, emergency managers develop plans of action to manage disasters and take action to build the necessary capabilities needed to implement such plans. Common preparedness measures include communication plans, proper maintenance and training of emergency response teams, testing of early warning methods, maintenance of disaster supplies and equipment, development of trained volunteers among civilian populations and casualty prediction for particular kinds of event.
Disaster Response(Tindakbalas Bencana) includes the mobilization of the necessary emergency services and first responders such as fire fighters, police and ambulance crews in the disaster area. These will be supported by secondary emergency services, such as specialist rescue teams. A well-rehearsed emergency plan developed as part of the preparedness phase enables efficient coordination of rescue.
Disaster Recovery (Pemulihan) essentially focuses on the restoration of an area affected by disaster to its previous state. Recovery efforts are concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are addressed. Actions include rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure. Efforts should be made to “build back safer”, aiming to reduce the pre-disaster risks inherent in the community and infrastructure. Effective recovery efforts take advantage of a ‘window of opportunity’ for the implementation of prevention and mitigation measures that might otherwise be unpopular, while the impact of the disaster is fresh in the memory of its victims.