Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD), Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MOSWRR) in collaboration with United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) launched “Earthquake Risk Assessment for 3 Cities” in Nay Pyi Taw on 20th December 2012. Risk assessment study will assess the seismic hazard and related risk for the most possible seismic scenario along Sagaing fault for Bago, Taungoo and Sagaing cities which has a population 412,730, 231,460 and 291,230 respectively.

The launch meeting brought together a total of 65 representatives of various departments from National and State, professional bodies, bilateral donors, NGOs and media representatives.

In her opening remarks, H.E. Dr. Myat Myat Ohn Khin, Union Minister of Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and Chairman of Myanmar Disaster Preparedness Agency (MDPA) stressed the urgency to undertake both preparedness and mitigation measures against natural disasters and particularly on earthquakes as they could not be detected or foreseen. H.E. Union Minister also emphasized the need to address underlying risks and vulnerabilities through risk identification and explore ways and means to better reduce risks by raising awareness of authorities and local communities concerned.

The current activities are implemented as part of ‘‘Myanmar Comprehensive Disaster Risk Reduction Programme”, a partnership agreement between UN-Habitat and RRD said Mr. Bijay Karmacharya, Head of Agency and Country Program Manager, UN-Habitat. “Cities and urban centers in the past along the Sagaing fault experienced major earthquakes and those cities have undergone substantial changes over the years. With the market-oriented economy, it will further undergo rapid transformation. The risk assessment project will facilitate development of long term action plan for vulnerability reduction of three cities and will also lead to building national capacities to undertake such assessment in other cities which are equally prone to earthquakes”, he highlighted in the speech.

UN-Habitat handed over 15 sets of training aids to RRD to support rolling out capacity building programme on DRR by State and Regional governments. Training aids included laptops, projector and screen, portable audio system and portable generators. U Soe Aung, Director General of RRD, thanked UN-Habitat and ECHO for the support and contributions as these are essential for its department to build capacity and awareness programme in 14 State and Regions.

Following the launching event, experts from Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH), Myanmar Engineering Society (MES) and Myanmar Geosciences Society (MGS) presented the lessons learned from recent earthquakes and status of seismic hazard assessment in the country. Experts also discussed the framework for undertaking risk assessment in 3 cities and touched upon important aspects such as land use planning, building codes, design of critical infrastructure and risk communication for minimizing current and future vulnerabilities to earthquake. For implementation of the project, a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) comprising key departments will be established to guide the risk assessment process along with Technical Working Group (TWG) at State and city level to coordinate the risk assessment and development of action plan.