Governments in the region can learn from businesses when responding to mega-disasters in the region, said Singapore’s Home Minister K Shanmugam.

Asia Pacific receives the highest number of natural disasters in the world, according to the United Nations. The “expert thinking” is that there will be more such disasters in the region, he said.

“In any disaster, the governments will be expected, and will have to take the lead. But the expertise does not always lie with the governments,” he said at the ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue on Disaster Management on 19 August. Governments must work with the private sector to leverage their expertise and resources, he said.

Governments can learn from supply chain and logistics companies on transporting relief, for instance. “The logistics companies are doing this every day for a living. They have to get their goods across in good times and in not so good times,” he said. ASEAN has already set up a regional logistics system for disasters and emergencies.

Similarly, governments can learn from technology companies by working with them. “It only makes sense for the governments to partner with the private sector”, he said, as governments don’t develop technology on a “day to day basis”.

For instance, during the 2014 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Air Asia provided cargo space and flights for NGOS and humanitarian agencies to supply relief to the affected areas.

ASEAN has set up a coordinating centre in 2011, and a joint emergency response team to improve disaster response in the region.

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