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Malaysia: Floods, DREF operation update, n° 1 (MDRMY003)

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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Heavy rains that started in December 2016 continued until late January 2017 in parts of Malaysia, causing flooding in seven states of Peninsular Malaysia – Johor, Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Terengganu, Malacca and Selangor – and Sabah in East Malaysia. More than 23,000 people, mainly from smaller towns and villages in rural areas, had to leave their homes to the relief centres.

The situation improved significantly after the weekend of Lunar New Year (28-29 January), with floodwater receding in several affected districts, allowing families that were in relief centres to return home. National Agency for Disaster Administration (NADMA) reported that the state of Johor suffered the brunt of rising waters, with more than 8,000 evacuees and one fatality. More information on the floods can be obtained from Information Bulletin n°1 (issued on 5 January), Information Bulletin n°2 (issued on 27 January) and Information Bulletin n°3 (issued on 2 February).

Summary of current response

Overview of Host National Society MRCS volunteers in branches throughout the affected areas have been active since December 2016 in anticipation of the seasonal rains and potential flooding. For instance, the Kelantan branch of MRCS activated its preparedness plan which it had developed following a disaster management training facilitated by the IFRC in May 2016 with funding support from the Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). In addition to the training, the branch had also been equipped with a rescue boat. When early warning advisories were received from the Malaysian Meteorological Department, Red Crescent volunteers were placed on standby for response and following the initial flooding in Kelantan, the MRCS branch deployed its boat to support search and rescue efforts alongside the government’s Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART).

As the rains continued to pour throughout January and flooding was reported across several states, MRCS mobilized members of its national disaster response team (NDRT) and emergency community volunteers to support the local authorities and NADMA in evacuating families in high-risk areas to safer areas. MRCS also complemented government relief distributions by providing hot meals in evacuation centres.

Furthermore, the National Society deployed six boats to support inter-agency rescue operations in affected states, with most recent priority on four districts of Pahang and Johor that remained inaccessible between 24 and 28 January. In all, MRCS mobilized more than 150 volunteers from its branches for the operations, supported by three rescue teams from the national headquarters.
To meet the immediate needs of families in relief centres, MRCS branches requested the release of 3,000 hygiene kits from prepositioned stocks. The hygiene kits were released on 27 January and as of 30 April, MRCS branches in Johor, Pahang and Terengganu had completed distributions and hygiene promotion.

Overview of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in country The IFRC Asia Pacific Regional Office (APRO) in Kuala Lumpur doubles as the country team for support to Malaysia. Its international and national staff specializing in various programming sectors and support services is supporting the MRCS response. The disaster and crisis unit of APRO has one team member – a project coordinator – dedicated fully to support the disaster management department of MRCS in operational planning and coordination.

In addition to the IFRC, ICRC is the other Movement partner with an office in Kuala Lumpur which also, partly, covers Malaysia. A close coordination mechanism already exists among the Movement components in Malaysia and information sharing continues. In the immediate aftermath of the floods, the Singapore Red Cross provided a donation of SGD 20,000 to MRCS – on bilateral basis – and deployed two volunteers for peer-to-peer support.

Coordinating with the authorities As auxiliary to the public authorities, MRCS coordinates with and complements government bodies, especially NADMA. During the response phase, MRCS deployed boats to support search and rescue efforts alongside the government’s Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART).