Discussion Papers

Impact of Disasters and Disaster Risk Management in Singapore: A Case Study of Singapore's Experience in Fighting the SARS Epidemic

By Allen Yu-Hung Lai and Seck L. Tan

ERIA Discussion Paper 2013-14

Posted: August 2013

Abstract


Singapore is vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters alongside its remarkable economic growth. One of the most significant disasters is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2003. The SARS outbreak was eventually contained through a series of risk mitigating measures introduced by the Singapore government. This would not be possible without the engagement and responsiveness of the general public. This paper begins with a description of Singapore's historical disaster profiles, the policy and legal framework in the all-hazard management approach. We use a case study to highlight the disaster impacts and insights drawn from Singapore's risk management experience with specific references to the SARS epidemic. We draw on the lesson-learning from Singapore's experience in fighting the SARS epidemic, and discuss implications for future practice and research in disaster risk management. The implications are explained in four aspects: staying vigilant at the community level, remaining flexible in a national command structure, the demand for surge capacity, and collaborative governance at regional level. This paper concludes with a presence of the flexible command structure on both the way and the extent it was utilized. This helps to explain the success level of the containment of the SARS epidemic.

ERIA-DP-2013-14

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