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Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei – Asia Pacific Region: Operational Plan 2021 (Appeal №: MAA50002)

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This Operational Plan has been written within the framework of the IFRC Plan and Budget 2021-2025. While its outlook is for five years, this plan details mainly work that will be carried out in 2021. The funding requirements also focus on 2021. The indicators (annex 1) are set for five years and where possible a target has been set for 2021 and/or subsequent years.



Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country consisting of 13 states and three Federal Territories. The country is separated into Peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo (East Malaysia) by the South China Sea. According to the Malaysia Department of Statistics, the country’s population is estimated at 32.7 million persons, of whom 15.9 million are female and 16.8 million are male.

Being a tropical country, Malaysia has warm weather all year round. Although relatively free from some of the natural hazards that affect its neighbouring countries – including because it is geographically located outside the Pacific Ring of Fire – Malaysia is vulnerable to several natural hazards such as floods, forest fires, haze, landslides, seismic activity and epidemics. Floods are the primary hazard affecting the country, with the risk of earthquakes mainly in Sabah in East Malaysia. Landslides and droughts are also significant though their effects are limited to much smaller areas in the eastern regions.

In terms of health, Malaysia has nearly achieved most targets that were set for child mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio, antenatal coverage, HIV and AIDS and malaria under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
However, some communicable diseases – including dengue – and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) still burden the country. NCDs now account for an estimated 73 percent of total deaths in Malaysia, with the biggest contributor being cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Data from national health and morbidity surveys (NHMS) shows an increasing trend for all NCD risk factors including overweight, obesity, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

Until 2020, Malaysia’s efforts to achieve holistic growth and high-income status were guided by a five-year plan adopted in 2016 – Eleventh Malaysia Plan 2016-2020 (11MP). The 11MP had six strategic thrusts to support addressing various aspirations of the plan, among them enhancing inclusiveness towards an equitable society, improving wellbeing for all and pursuing green growth for sustainability and resilience. The process of finalizing and adopting the Twelfth Malaysia Plan (12MP), to set the way forward for national development agenda for the period 2021-2025, has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 12MP is projected to encompass three dimensions: economic empowerment, environmental sustainability and social re-engineering. Socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 are significant with the World Bank – in its June 2020 Malaysia Economic Monitor – projecting that Malaysia’s economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), may contract 3.1 per cent due to the significant impact of economic disruptions resulting from the country’s movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Brunei (in full Brunei Darussalam) is a small country on the northwest side of Borneo Island. It has a welldeveloped economy and with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. Brunei benefits from hydrocarbon production, which accounts for 90 percent of its exports. According to the country’s Department of Economic Planning and Development, Brunei has a population of 421,300 people of whom 204,900 are female and 216,400 are male. Slightly over 64 per cent of the country’s population is aged between 17 and 54 years.

Located in a unique area largely spared from natural hazards, Brunei is not prone to earthquakes and typhoons.
Floods and forest fires (with their resultant haze and air pollution) are the main hazards that occasionally impact the country, sometimes with substantial humanitarian consequences. Due to its hazard risk profile, Brunei established the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) in 2006. The government, through the NDMC, is the primary provider of assistance for its people when they are affected by a disaster or crisis. The authorities usually allocate significant budgets for disaster recovery and mitigation. The country also has a community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM) programme with a component targeting schools.

In terms of health, NCDs are the leading cause of mortality in Brunei with the Health Information Booklet issued by the Ministry of Health (updated in January 2019) placing the probability of dying between the ages 30 and 70 years from NCD at 14.3 per cent based on 2017 data. In 2017 NCDs accounted for 52.5 percent of the total deaths in Brunei. Road traffic accidents are the leading factor of mortality due to external causes in the country.

Singapore is a highly developed island city-state in South-East Asia. It has the third-highest GDP per capita in the world and is ranked 9 out of 189 countries and territories in the UN Human Development Index. The country sits outside the Ring of Fire and not prone to natural hazards. It has is placed highly in key social indicators including education, healthcare, quality of life, personal safety and housing. One of the biggest challenges facing Singapore relates to vulnerabilities linked to ageing. Projections indicate that due to its rapidly aging population, by 2030 one in five people in the country will be aged 65 years or older.

Furthermore, the island city-state is not insulated from the impact of climate change. As a low-lying island, the rise in sea level poses the most immediate threat to Singapore. Considering that it imports more than 90 per cent of its food demand, Singapore is vulnerable to fluctuations in global food supply and prices. Effects of climate on crops grown in countries from which it imports food would have the potentiation of disrupting food supply. The country would also see an increase in cases of vector-borne diseases such as dengue which are usually observed during warmer periods. In addition, heatwaves may lead to more occurrences of heat stress and discomfort among older people.