George Town needs integrated plan to face disasters: UNESCO


GEORGE TOWN: Since being named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008, George Town has yet to have a collaborated action plan in facing natural or man-made disasters.

Realising the urgent need for an integrated plan for disaster risk reduction (DRR) of the heritage city and those in Southeast Asia (SEA) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific, UNESCO office in Jakarta, Indonesia and Apia, Samoa in collaboration with George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) and International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) organised a two-days workshop to officially start a series of activities for the purpose.

UNESCO, local governments, researchers and NGOs are now working on developing a system to link all risk management plans to specific heritage sites risk management plan.

Head of Culture Unit UNESCO office in Jakarta Bernards A. Zalo said three heritage cities have been selected as the pilot sites under this project; Malacca and George Town represents historic cities of the Straits of Malacca, Jakarta Old Town in Indonesia and Levuka historical port town in Fiji.

“The objective of this project is to build capacity for DRR of heritage cities in SEA and Pacific SIDS with a view to developing strategies and integrate them into the overall heritage management plan of heritage cities,” he said at a press conference here, today.

Meanwhile, GTWHI general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee said although the state government has a good flood mitigation system in plan and has managed to reduce the risk of flooding in the heritage city, there is a gap between all disaster risk plans.

“Every department including the fire and rescue team, the police, even the National Security Council or MKN has their own disaster risk management plan but sadly it is not integrated or not collaborated in a way to specifically the world heritage cities site,” she said.

Ang added that it is hoped that a more comprehensive, integrated plan to protect heritage cities specifically George Town will be ready for implementation by year end or early next year.