Typhoons, from the Chinese Tai fung or big wind, generally pass over very large geographical areas. Therefore, any effective response to them calls for regional cooperation among the affected countries. A key element in such a response is an efficient typhoon warning system which involves the rapid and frequent exchange of information between countries and areas based on close observation and monitoring of the storm’s development and movements. Obviously such activities cannot be effectively performed on a casual or informal basis, a regional institution is necessary.
The Typhoon Committee (TC) is such an institution. It is an inter-governmental body organized under the joint auspices of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1968 in order to promote and coordinate the planning and implementation of measures required for minimizing the loss of life and material damage caused by typhoons in Asia and the Pacific. The founding Members of the Committee were: China; Hong Kong, China; Japan; the Republic of Korea; Lao PDR; the Philippines and Thailand. Cambodia (1972); Malaysia (1976); Viet Nam (1979); Macao, China (1993); People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (1993); Singapore (1997) and the USA (1998) raised the present membership to fourteen (14).
The Typhoon Committee succeeded beyond expectations. In emulation of its success, four other similar organizations were set up in as many tropical cyclone basins around the world, namely, Panel on Tropical Cyclones, RA I and RA V Tropical Cyclone Committees, and RA IV Hurricane Committee.
The TC works on reducing the damage caused by typhoons and floods in the region by:
a) reviewing regularly the progress made in the various fields of typhoon damage prevention;
b) recommending to the participating Governments concerned plans and measures for
the improvement of meteorological and hydrological facilities needed for typhoon damage prevention;
c) recommending to the participating Governments concerned plans and measures for improvement of community preparedness and disaster prevention;
d) promoting the establishment of programmes and facilities for training personnel from countries in the region in typhoon forecasting and warning, hydrology and flood control within the region and arrange for training outside the region, as necessary;
e) promoting, preparing and submitting to participating Governments and other interested organization plans for coordination of research programmes and activities concerning typhoons;
f) considering, upon request, possible sources of financial and technical support for such plans and programmes;
g) preparing and submitting, at the request and on behalf of the participating Governments, requests for technical, financial and other assistance offered under the UNDP and by other organizations and contributors
In carrying out these functions, the TC maintains and implements action programmes under three components: namely Meteorological, Hydrological, Disaster Prevention and Preparedness; with supported by Advisory Working Group and Training and Research Coordination Group, and Resources Mobilization Group and also with contributions by its Members and their cooperation and the assistance provided by the UNDP, ESCAP, WMO, and other agencies.
In general, the Members are responsible for implementing those parts of the programme within their national jurisdiction with assistance, if necessary, from the TCS staff or consultants.