/ / Monthly Disaster Outlook



A significant change in the number of disaster occurrences was observed for the month of January 2020, with a 56% decrease of all disasters in comparison to the previous five-year average, and a majority of registered disasters were flood events. All but one of the recorded disasters took place in Indonesia. There were, however, significant increases compared to five-year averages of affected people (13% increase), internally displaced people (86%), and damaged houses (8%), due primarily to high monsoon activity in the region, with winds exhibiting convergence patterns (leading to formation of clouds and eventually precipitation) according to the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG). Overall, the number of occurrences decreased, but the disasters affected more people compared to the previous five-year averages.

There was also a significant increase in the number of casualties for the month of January, up 63% compared to the five-year average, with the number of injuries also increasing by 32%, despite the life-saving mechanisms of the ASEAN Member States being effectively put into place. Such increased disaster severity may be an indication of the effects of a changing climate. In terms of geophysical hazards, the phreatic eruption of the Taal Volcano in the Philippines on January 12 spewed ash across Metro Manila, and the Northern, Central, and Southern Luzon regions, causing widespread cancellations of classes, work, and flights, and significant losses for the agricultural sector (US$63 million). The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) issued an Alert Level 4 (out of five levels), or hazardous eruption possible within hours to days, due to the volcanic activity. On 26 January, decreased volcanic activities prompted PHIVOLCS to downgrade that alert level. Taal Volcano’s eruption contributed significantly to the number of displaced people in this month’s figures, with an estimated 459,300 people living within the volcano’s 14-kilometer danger zone.


The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) expects drier conditions for the month of February over Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and northern parts of Borneo and the Philippines. These conditions are expected to last until the end of March and extend to some parts of Thailand. However, wetter conditions are expected with increasing chances over the southeastern part of the maritime continent in the following months, which are expected to ease in the last week of March.

For temperature conditions, on one hand, the ASMC expects warmer conditions over much of the maritime continent and shall progressively affect parts of Mainland Southeast Asia in the last week of March. On the other hand, colder conditions are expected to occur and last until the third week of February over northeastern parts of the northern ASEAN region.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), characterised by an eastward spread of large regions of enhanced and suppressed tropical rainfall, is expected to be in Phase 7 of 8 towards the end of January 2020. This means the enhanced rainfall will continue to move eastward into the western Pacific and eventually dissipate in the central Pacific. There are signs of a weak MJO emerging in the Maritime Continent in mid-February, but is forecasted to weaken. This weak MJO is also forecasted to reemerge over the Indian Ocean towards the end of March. This development may contribute to wetter conditions in the Southern Maritime Continent as predicted by the models.

Data Sources: ASEAN Disaster Information Network, ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre

Written by : Keith Landicho and Lawrence Anthony Dimailig


Disclaimer: AHA Centre’s estimation is based on data and information shared by National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) and other relevant agencies from ASEAN Member States, international organisations and news agencies. Further information on each recorded-significant disaster, description and detail of data and information are available at: http://adinet.ahacentre.org/reports.