Four consecutive typhoons pummeled the Philippines in just a couple of weeks, leaving swathes of destruction in their wake. The most recent one, with the local name “Ulysses” (international name: Vamco) submerged parts of Luzon, giving residents in the capital a painful reminder of the great flood that happened 10 years ago. These kinds of calamities, as terrifying and as destructive, are happening in some parts of the ASEAN region, too. Since October, five typhoons have hit the Mekong Region, resulting in catastrophic floods in Central Vietnam, Cambodia, and Lao PDR, leaving millions worth of properties destroyed and scores dead.
Our hearts deeply go out to the victims of these massive floods. Climate change impacts have been accelerating and are now severely felt. These emergencies go to show that Southeast Asia remains one of the vulnerable regions taking the brunt of climate change. It is among the most disaster-prone in the world, with 1,218 disasters occurring from 2012 to 2018, data from the ASEAN Secretariat show. These disasters cause an estimated damage of USD 15.9 billion annually, equivalent to three times the ASEAN’s collective annual gross domestic product.
Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim