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National Disaster Management Sets To See New Era

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KUALA LUMPUR – Disaster management in the country is set to see a new era, with a promise of 360-degree approach by the newly set up National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA).

Its director-general, Datuk Zaitun Ab Samad, said the agency would not only be just about handling assistance during and after disaster, but preparations were already ongoing in rolling out initiatives to reduce risk of disasters, as well as educating public on good practices to avoid and handle disasters.

As such, the former Civil Defence Department director-general said the agency would have a holistic administrative department of Planning and Preparedness, Operational as well as Post Recovery for disaster.

“Going forward, we will meet with the state governments, local authorities, government agencies to discuss, among others, projects and construction that would prevent future floods or landslides.

“Public awareness is also among the things that the agency will focus on. Things to do when expecting floods, what kinds of action needs to be done during earthquake for instance, these were never done formally before,” she told Bernama in a recent exclusive interview on the roles and plans of NDMA here.

The agency, which became fully operational from Oct 1 this year, is supported by six main rescue agencies for disaster, with about 50,000 personnel in total, namely the Royal Malaysian Police, the SMART team, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department, Health Department and RELA.

It was formed through a combination of two entities – the Post Flood Recovery Unit under the Prime Minister’s Department and Disaster Managemen Division of the National Security Council – and subject to the provision in the National Security Council Directive No.20.

Elaborating further, Zaitun said the pre-emptive efforts were new elements to disaster management in the country as it had never before handled by a single, specific agency.

“This would be the main agenda for NDMA as we would like to see disaster management in the country becoming more organise, thus contribute to reduction in rescue budget, save more lives and consume less manpower,” she said.

Being set up at the brink of monsoon season, Zaitun, nonetheless, was highly positive that the agency, with its 235 administrative staff, was ready to face their first encounter, floods.

“Even though we are a new agency with newly appointed staff, almost everyone came with vast experience in handling disasters,” she said, adding that in review of the unprecedented massive floods last December, the agency had decided to take pre-emptive initiatives, which include the arrangement for each of its senior officers to be responsible of a specific, flood-prone location nationwide.

Other than that, she said food supply had also been stored in food depots across the country, ready to be distributed to more than 5,122 temporary shelters for flood victims.

“Food kits will also be ready for victims even before they are evacuated to the temporary shelters and each kit will able to supply a family of four for at least three days, before a kitchen at the shelter is open,” she said.

At the same time, in a bid to coordinate and facilitate the distributions of aid by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government-linked companies (GLCs), she said NDMA had engaged them in two separate meetings.

“In total, we had met with at least 24 GLCs and 21 NGOs so far. This is to enhance the cooperation and identify their strengths,” she added.

Apart from natural disasters, NDMA would also respond to industrial disaster, air accidents, pandemic, haze, dam failure and collapsed building. – BERNAMA

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