Nargis and Haiyan: The Politics of Natural Disaster Management in Myanmar and the Philippines

Brendan Howe, Geehyun Bang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This paper examines the impact of two of the gravest natural disasters in contemporary Asian history: Cyclone Nargis, which devastated parts of Myanmar in May 2008, and Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in November 2013. It addresses the role played by greatly divergent governance structures, noting that governance failures led to the exacerbation of the disasters in both cases. The paper explores the links between the national government as the primary duty-bearer for good governance and natural disaster risk management, examining institutions, infrastructures, education and budgetary allocations in each country; seeking the underlying causes of inefficient disaster management. This includes the extent to which each government fell short in its response even though each country is regularly exposed to typhoons and tropical storms. In each case the findings are that the national resilience and government preparedness efforts to reduce the impact of natural disasters were insufficient, and that the authorities, either through lack of capacity or lack of will, experienced reaction shortcomings. The final section contains lessons learned and policy prescriptions in order to enhance resilience in the face of future natural disasters in Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-78
Number of pages21
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Korean Ministry of Education under a BK 21 PLUS Grant for Global Networking Leadership Development and Education; and the Japan International Cooperation Agency Research Institute’s research project on “Human Security in Practice: East Asian Experiences”. The authors would like to express their gratitude for invaluable feedback from the editors of Asian Studies Review and the anonymous peer reviewers.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Asian Studies Association of Australia.


  • Cyclone Nargis
  • Governance
  • Myanmar
  • The Philippines
  • Typhoon Haiyan
  • disaster management
  • human security
  • risk management resilience


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