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The Science and Technology for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (STDR3) Week 2023 was held on 3 till 6 October in Kundasang, Sabah, in conjunction with the National Preparedness Month (BKN) and the UNDRR International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2023 celebration. The STDR3 Week 2023 was hosted by the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) of Malaysia, Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Center (DPPC), Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Kuala Lumpur, Sabah State Disaster Management Committee, Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM), Department of Mineral and Geoscience (JMG), UNICEF Malaysia, Southeast Asia Disaster Prevention Research Institute (SEADPRI), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) Kobe, Japan, Natural Disaster Research Center (NDRC), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), and MERCY Malaysia. The strategic partnerships and combined efforts underscored the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration in mitigating the impact of geological hazards. This is the third time that DPPC and strategic partners conducted this STDR3 week. The previous event was held back in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs and Special Duties), Our Honourable Datuk Armizan bin Mohd Ali has successfully officiated STDR3 Week. During his speech, he highlighted that this program was in line with the government’s commitment and one of the national disaster management strategic steps implemented through the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) through a whole-of-nation approach to reduce the negative impact of climate change as stated by YAB the Prime Minister in his presentation speech of the Kajian Separuh Penggal Rancangan Malaysia Ke-12 (KSP RMKe 12) in the Dewan Rakyat on 11 September 2023. Datuk Mohd Hanafiah Bin Mohd Kassim (Permanent Secretary of Ministry Science, Technology and Innovation MOSTI, Sabah) and Mr Zamakhshari bin Hanipah Deputy General Director, Development and Disaster Preparedness Section, National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), Prime Minister’s Department, were also present to witness this momentous event.

This high-impact program focused on the implementation of science and technology in disaster risk reduction (DRR), with an emphasis on stakeholders, local agencies, decision-makers, and vulnerable groups exposed to various hazards and disasters. In addition, various technical methods and learning modules will be discussed to identify geological hazards and take risk reduction measures and build resilience for vulnerable groups. The STDR3 Week 2023 brought together experts, scientists, government officials, and international organisations to share insights, knowledge, and technological advancements aimed at enhancing disaster preparedness and resilience.

 Empowering women and children in Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience towards equitable resilience

 In the past year, NADMA together with DPPC-MJIIT-UTM and UNICEF has collaborated on a project known as Women & Child-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (WCDR3) with an aim to empower vulnerable women and children in disaster risk reduction for societal resilience by equipping them with knowledge and a platform to voice out their concerns as well as ideas for a more equitable decision-making process as part of a building disaster resilience community. This project is unique through its localised module which was strengthened by local strategic partners that enables each community to understand its own resilience and risk elements with science-backed evidence from the local agencies.

Being the 5th program held under the WCDR3 project, the Kundasang’s module had undergone vast improvements to ease the assimilation of knowledge for women and children. On the 3rd October 2023, a total of 81 students from SK Mesilou participated in the program, moderated by Dr. Kogila Vani a/p Annammala.  In order to accommodate all the students from Standard 4, 5 and 6 to join in the activities, eight station games were designed. By applying the principles of Play-to-Learn, common games such as Snake and Ladder, Telefon Karat, and Bingo were incorporated with Disaster Risk Reduction elements to make it educational and fun. Students gained exposure and basic knowledge about disasters and actions to be taken when it happens. Visual cue cards, interesting imagery and audio also play a major role in the game design process.

On the same day, activities held at Mesilau Hall were attended by 37 local community women from Kg. Mesilau. With the great enthusiasm of Sabahan, an active Focus Group Discussion was held to gain understanding on the local disaster, risk and challenges faced by the community from a women perspective. A brief knowledge sharing session was given by Dr. Sumiaty Ambran, a Sabahan herself, about the importance of women’s role in disaster, disaster risk and resilience as well.

Knowledge Empowerment and Disaster Risk Reduction Workshop held on 4th October 2023

Knowledge Empowerment and Disaster Risk Reduction Workshop in schools was a continuation of DRR capacity building activities through the experience of Phase 1 and 2 last year by SEADPRI – UKM. This phase focuses more on primary students. Targeted students by exploring their opportunities and capacities to change the stigma of society and stakeholders about children being only passive victims when disaster strikes. Through this workshop, students foster knowledge about the basics of DRR and how to handle emergencies, in addition to be able to improve the system and delivery of information in national disaster management and increase their capacity. Children are a positive catalyst towards a resilient community, especially when provided with the knowledge to explore future resilient community opportunities.

Test Run ICT Tools and application for Community Based Disaster Risk Management held on 5thOctober 2023 for Mesilau and Dumpiring Communities

It was the pioneer project for the Use of Latest Communication Technology for CBDRM and Disaster Emergency Management, in collaboration with the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) under the ASEAN-Japan Work Plan on Disaster Management for the Asia-Pacific project through the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management in Malaysia, will be held on the third day of the STDR3 Week. The need for the implementation of this project is to further strengthen the capacity of community DRM (Disaster Risk Management) and reduce human losses through non-structural measures, such as emergency response and rapid recovery preparedness, closely related to increasing public awareness and enhancing community capacity. Comprehensive hazard and risk maps with evacuation information are crucial for the public to take appropriate and timely actions in dealing with disaster situations.

In addition to the informative sessions, the STDR3 Week also featured interactive workshops with children and women, focus group discussion with experts from agencies, and test-run using ICT Tools for earthquake scenarios in Kundasang, Sabah. These practical elements allowed participants to gain hands-on experience and a deeper understanding of the issues at hand.

Climate-induced disasters are already impacting lives and communities. The earthquake in Sabah on the 5th of June 2015 caused a series of landslides that resulted in a high number of human and economic losses. When disaster strikes, children get cut off from schooling, nutrition, and health care. They can lose critical social services and protection, while finding themselves in hazardous environments. Children whose families live in poverty are more impacted by disasters and the consequences of climate change.

The increasing frequency and severity of disaster events means that communities need immediate action to build resilience. The Science & Technology for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Week aims to empower children, young people and women with the knowledge and tools to contribute towards community resilience.

The event concluded with a call to action for all stakeholders and communities, emphasising the need for a comprehensive, holistic approach to disaster risk reduction and resilience. The knowledge and insights gained during the STDR3 Week 2023 will undoubtedly contribute to the global efforts in reducing the impact of disasters and building more resilient communities.