EU provides €12.3 million to enhance disaster preparedness capacity across Asia and the Pacific

Bangkok, 7 July 2016 – The European Commission is making available € 12.3 million to strengthen the capacity of disaster-prone countries across Asia and the Pacific to prepare for and protect themselves from recurring natural disasters. Almost half of the world’s natural disasters last year occurred in Asia and the Pacific, causing large-scale losses of lives and assets.

“The European Commission's funding will help people in countries in Asia and the Pacific to increase their preparedness when disasters strike. The funds will support projects aiming to reduce the impact of natural hazards and build resilience amongst the most vulnerable communities in 11 countries across the region. It is of paramount importance that people in these vulnerable countries are given the necessary means and knowledge to face these recurrent events in the best possible way”, said Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

The EU funds will be provided to humanitarian partner organisations such as international non-government organisations (INGOs), UN agencies and the Red Cross and Red Crescent family, to implement the initiatives in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, North Korea, Nepal, Mongolia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand.

Asia and the Pacific is the world’s most disaster-prone region, with at least 160 disasters taking place in the region last year, out of 344 recorded globally. These events often have greater impacts on the most vulnerable populations, who are less prepared to cope with these hazards. According to the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), catastrophic events resulted in the deaths of more than 16 000 people and left close to 59.3 million others affected across the region in 2015.

The latest allocation brings the Commission’s total funding for disaster preparedness programmes in Asia-Pacific to more than € 140 million since 1996, including almost € 27 million in the last funding cycle (2014-2015), covering 18 most disaster-prone countries across the region.

Background

Asia-Pacific encompasses a broad array of high-risk zones such as river basins, flood plains, seismic fault lines and volcanic landforms. Its vast and diverse landmass allows for varied and extreme weather patterns, ranging from floods to cyclones and droughts. Climate change, rapid urbanisation and rising population densities in disaster-prone areas may also result in more frequent and intense hazards in the future.

Since 1996, the European Commission has funded a number of disaster preparedness programmes across Asia and the Pacific. These initiatives typically focus on providing most-at-risk populations with better know-how and practical training whilst supporting the involvement of local, regional and national authorities. Last year, for example, when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Nepal, a then-ongoing medical preparedness initiative proved life-saving from the very first hours of the emergency: past training of medical staff on trauma protocols, the stockpiling of medical supplies and non-structural retrofitting of hospitals all ensured that targeted health premises in the capital city, Kathmandu, were equipped to cope with the devastating impact of the earthquake and health personnel able to perform their emergency duties without delay. Besides Nepal, other vulnerable countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka,

Pakistan, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, North Korea, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam, also benefited from EU-funded preparedness projects between 2014 and 2015.

In addition to dedicated disaster preparedness initiatives, the Commission also encourages the integration of disaster risk reduction interventions into all EU-funded humanitarian operations.

Contact

Pierre Prakash, Regional Information Officer for Asia and the Pacific, European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO): +66 89 811 54 81, Pierre.Prakash@echofield.eu