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

  • Allen Yu-Hung Lai
  • Seck L. Tan
Part of the Risk, Governance and Society book series (RISKGOSO, volume 18)


Singapore is vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters alongside its remarkable economic growth. One of the most significant disasters in recent history was 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 chapter 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. The implications from the SARS focus on four areas: 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 chapter concludes with a presence of the flexible command structure on both the way and the extent it was utilized.


Gross Domestic Product Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Disaster Management Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Disaster Risk Management 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) to initiate this meaningful research project, and four commentators—Professor Yasuyuki Sawada (Tokyo University), Professor Chan NgaiWeng (University Sains Malaysia), Dr. Sothea Oum (ERIA), Mr. Zhou Yansheng (SCDF) and all participants in ERIA’s two workshops, for their insightful comments for an earlier draft of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute of Health Economics and ManagementESSEC Business School – Asia PacificSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Centre on Asia and Globalization, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public PolicyNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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