This policy report traces developments in disaster governance in South Asia as an area of cooperation for Southeast Asia. South Asia is highly exposed and vulnerable to the impacts of natural hazards. It has been affected by several large-scale disasters over the past two decades, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Multiple small and medium disasters have also occurred with increasing frequency, disrupting the lives of affected communities and halting developments in a region already fraught with poverty. Yet, none of these events have been a catalyst for greater regional cooperation on disaster management, unlike in Southeast Asia.
The following steps could be considered to facilitate future cooperation between South Asia and Southeast Asia on disaster governance:
- Encourage ASEAN to extend access to its disaster management training programmes and joint simulation exercises to South Asia.
- Establish an inter-regional forum of HADR experts to bring together technical experts, practitioners, and disaster management specialists from South Asia and Southeast Asia for the sharing of experiences and best practices.
- Explore the establishment of a South Asia Disaster Management and Emergency Relief Fund and a South Asia Emergency Response and Assessment Team, drawing on the experience of ASEAN, to build up regional disaster management capacity in South Asia.
- Invite ASEAN to explore partnerships with sub-regional groupings such as BIMSTEC, BBIN, and IORA on issues of disaster management and emergency response.
- Establish linkages between regional disaster management hubs such as the AHA Centre, SAARC Disaster Management Centre, and BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate.
- Facilitate inter-regional cooperation through tracks 1.5 and 2 such as academic exchanges, practitioner engagements, and country-level knowledge sharing. (vii) Explore the ADMM Plus platform as an avenue to engage the South Asian defence ministries and militaries on HADR cooperation.