The first great natural disaster of 2009 in the Asia-Pacific region was the series of flooding disasters which struck Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines during the early weeks of January. A minor flooding calamity also hit Brunei.
There have been consistent media reports about the flooding in each of the cited countries, but few have mentioned that the flooding disasters were a region-wide calamity. News reports were mainly focused on specific countries. There is no region-wide initiative to address the flooding problem and its aftermath.
The disaster areas are all located in the southern region of the Asia-Pacific. While tropical storms and flooding are frequent in this part of the world, it is rare that flooding calamities have occurred almost simultaneously. Today's flooding disaster is not as enormous as the 2004 Asian Tsunami but many bloggers have described the flooding as the worst that ever happened in their countries.
The best sources of information about the flooding are to be found on the Internet. Citizen journalists in the provinces were active in reporting about their experiences while floodwaters were rising in their towns. They uploaded pictures and videos of the impact. Filipino bloggers have launched a donation drive through Plurk and other social networking sites. Some bloggers in Fiji have criticized the government for its delayed response to the crisis.
Except for Jakarta, the flooding disasters occurred in the provinces of Malaysia and the Philippines. This proves that citizen journalism is not only possible and effective in highly urbanized areas.
Global Voices posts related to the floodings
Feb 25 – Brunei: Fund drive for flood victims
Feb 6 – Brunei: More rain, flashfloods and landslides
Jan 27 – Brunei after the floods: A time of loss and prayers
Jan 22 – Philippines: The root cause of the flooding
Jan 20 – Brunei: Rainy days and flooding
Jan 19 – Malaysia: Lessons from the flooding disaster
Jan 18 – Philippines: Helping flood victims through Plurk and blogs
Jan 17 – Flashfloods and landslides in south Philippines
Jan 17 – Malaysia: Worst flooding in years
Jan 17 – Indonesia: Flooding in 13 provinces
Jan 16 – Fiji Floods: ‘The Village Drowned’
Jan 15 – Fiji Flooding: “The economic costs will be massive”
Jan 12 – Fiji floods: ‘Where is all this water coming from?’
Jan 06 – Philippines: New Year Flash Floods
For more information or to volunteer to write for Global Voices, contact South East Asia Editor, Mong Palatino.
Global Voices author John Liebhardt initially wrote three articles about the flooding in Fiji. The Western Division of Viti Levu, the country's largest island, was the hardest hit by the flooding. At least 10,000 people were being housed in schools used as temporary shelters. Water and electricity services remain scarce in some parts of the country. A state of emergency was declared by the government in the wake of the disaster.
Global Voices author Karlo Mongaya wrote about the New Year flash floods that hit several parts of northern Mindanao in the Philippines. At least 30,000 individuals were affected by the disaster. But this was only the start of the suffering to be endured by the residents in the southern provinces. Last week, strong rains produced flash floods and landslides in the region. More than 100,000 people were displaced by the flooding calamity.
Thirteen provinces in Indonesia were hit by flooding. Many parts of Jakarta were inundated with sea water. Flooding is normal in the nation's capital but bloggers have noted that the recent flooding was “unseasonably early.” Flooding also disrupted the lives of thousands of residents in Malaysia's Sarawak State, especially in the towns of Bau, Kuching and Sibu.
willchua has a comprehensive compilation of pictures of the Sarawak Flooding in Malaysia. Cagayan de Oro City Info and Awatiro have uploaded numerous pictures of the floods in southern Philippines. A sample of pictures from Awatiro's page:
japanese-aliav uploads a video of the flooding in Kuching, Malaysia.
Neren uploads a video of the flash floods in Gingoog City, Philippines.