Impact of Urban Floods to Waste Management (Disaster Waste Management)

Malaysia is generally blessed to be spared of many major natural disasters that occur worldwide. However, we do face the occasional flood, landslide and haze. In recent years, we have experienced extreme weather and climatic events, ranging from thunderstorms to monsoonal floods.

On 16th December 2021, a tropical depression brought torrential downpours lasting three days over the peninsula. The floods that ensued resulted in loss of around 50 lives, 5 missing persons and thousands evacuated from their homes across the nation, as reported by Bernama.1 The heart-wrenching aftermath saw families with lost homes, missing belongings, damaged vehicles which were all swept away or submerged in the floods. 

The Selangor government alone had spent RM6 million out of the allocated RM10 million by 31st December last year.2 Disruptions in solid waste collections affected by floods occurred causing delays and difficulties in domestic and bulk waste collection. Inaccessible routes and damage to waste collection trucks were a big factor for the disruptions while some waste contractors were also impacted by floods in terms of reduced manpower, damaged facilities and equipment.

Floodwaters carry risks such as water- borne diseases, thus proper management of floodwater and waste is needed to reduce these risks. Flood water may contain things that may harm human health such as human and livestock waste, household waste, industrial and medical waste, lumber, vehicles and debris, and wild animals such as rodents and snakes.3

In Malaysia, waste management and waste minimization is not the sole responsibility of local authorities but include government agencies like the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Ministry of Environment, Ministry Of Health, various academic institutions and NGOs who work together to achieve this. In the event of a flood or natural disaster, your local council is the first point of contact for information on:

  • financial assistance
  • appropriate clean up and waste disposal in your area
  • essential and immediate needs

There is however, a need for local councils to strengthen post-flood waste management systems now with the increased frequency of floods occurring. The volume of garbage is huge, must be cleaned immediately and almost nothing can be recycled. Most of these will pile up in landfills.

Along with garbage and belongings, a high number of motor vehicles were damaged and sent to auto service centres and workshops for repair. There was a sudden surge in the number of vehicles needing repair resulting in a high volume of scheduled waste generated from auto centres nationwide. 

In light of these floods, natural disaster insurance coverage is more important than ever as the risk of floods and being caught in one could have serious impacts on financial wellbeing. A small fee relative to vehicle value when renewing our road tax could save many Malaysians from draining their savings to fix vehicles damaged in floods. 

Pentas Flora received many enquiries from various industries once the floods had subsided last year. We are able to support waste management services for the private sector specifically with scheduled waste collection, cleaning, oil trap service maintenance and other scheduled waste requirements. 

We offer customised services to customers throughout Malaysia in compliance with environmental laws and guidelines. More information on our services can be found here.

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