UN-HABITAT is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. UN-HABITAT is one of the few international institutions that provides an overall perspective on urbanisation processes and the only one with housing and urban development as its principal mandate.
UN-Habitat established it’s presence in Myanmar in the early 1990’s through 2002 where the agency pioneered the “People’s Process” by establishing the first community led projects in the Dry Zone, Shan State and the Delta. The agency also extended substantive assistance in designing the Human Development Initiative for UNDP & has partnered in implementation of HDI1, HDI 2 and HDI 3.
Today UN-Habitat continues to implement several normative and operational activities focusing on basic access of services to settlements, while addressing cross-cutting issues of gender, risk reduction, environment and climate change.
Disaster Reduction Goal
UN-HABITAT’s main goals related to disaster risk reduction are:
- Increasing investment in disaster risk reduction - redirecting priorities from visible and short-term development projects to abstract long term potential threats and risks.
- Addressing the root causes of disasters - inadequate development practices increase the vulnerability of communities, and more focus on pre-disaster risk reduction needs to be integrated in all development planning.
- Incorporating vulnerability reduction and disaster management into on-going national and local development and poverty reduction plans.
- Redirecting the focus on disaster risk reduction and mitigation rather than preparedness and response related strategies in the human settlements context.
- Building a culture of prevention entails a cross sectoral, multi-dimensional approach integrating participatory analysis of risk, implementation of programmes, and development of policy and legal frameworks with all stakeholders including civil society, private sector, local, national and international government, in a gendered and comprehensive process.
Policies and Programmes in DRR
The Habitat Agenda (Istanbul 1996), which details its mandate, calls upon the agency to assist member states in disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness, and post-disaster rehabilitation capabilities in human settlements.
In 2007, a Strategic Policy on Human Settlements in Crisis was adopted starting from UN-HABITAT’s Sustainable Relief and Reconstruction Framework which includes the Hyogo Framework for Action and aims at:
- Reducing the vulnerabilities of human settlements and strengthen their capacities for managing disasters at all levels;
- Responding to immediate needs in the aftermath of crises that are linked to Agency mandated interventions supporting sustainable human settlements.
UN-Habitat, Myanmar has following ongoing partnership programme (s) with the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
Myanmar Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme with Relief and Resettlement Department, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.
Coastal and Urban Settlements Support Programme with Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Border Affairs.
Myanmar Programme for Safer Settlements and Urban Research (MPSSUR) with Department of Human Settlements and Housing Development, Ministry of Construction.
Membership in Key Networks
Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG) Myanmar
Disaster Preparedness and Response Education (DPRE) Working Group, Myanmar
Humanitarian Country Team, Myanmar
Disaster Reduction Focal Point(s)
Country Programme Manager
Making disaster risk reduction a policy priority, institutional strengthening (HFA 1)
UN-Habitat is working through its operational and normative programmes towards to provide policy and institutional support to various Government Ministries at National, State and Region and support institutional strengthening at local government level such as formulation of Myanmar National Building Code, Myanmar Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (MAPDRR), Disaster Management Law etc.
In addition, UN-Habitat is co-lead of Strategic Priority 3: Reduce vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change of UN Strategic Framework (2012-2015) and also supports Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (DRRWG)for broader DRR Support in Myanmar.
Risk assessment and early warning systems (HFA 2)
UN-Habitat in partnership with technical agencies and partners such as Myanmar Engineering Society, Myanmar Geo-Sciences Society is undertaking risk assessment for earthquakes in 3 Cities Bago, Sagaing and Taungoo cities. In addition it is in the process of undertaking hazard specific assessments for other urban centers in Myanmar and also establish National Disaster Damage and Loss Database along with UNDP.
Education, information and public awareness (HFA 3)
Public Awareness and Education (PEA) is an integral part of UN-Habitat DRR Work. In the past it has developed numerous manuals, posters etc. It also supports knowledge sharing through Disaster Risk Reduction- Disaster Information Assimilation Source one stop portal for information sharing.
Reducing underlying risk factors (HFA 4)
UN-Habitat proactively works with key stakeholders in addressing the risk factors through formulation of Myanmar National Building Code, Development of guidelines on land use planning, City Development Strategies, Climate Change Policy Framework.
Preparedness for effective response (HFA 5)
UN-Habitat works closely with relevant stakeholders (Government, UN, INGOs and LNGOs) in enhancing the response preparedness capacities. Currently it also supports implementation of Disaster Management Plan preparation and link with Community Level through CBDRR.