Bangladesh + 3 more

Enhanced disaster preparedness in South Asia: Through community-based and regional approaches



Pursuant to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, the United States Government (USG), as represented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA), Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), is seeking applications from US and non-US, non-profit or for-profit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations (IOs), and other qualified non-USG organizations to implement activities as described in the following Annual Program Statement (APS). This program is authorized in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.

The purpose of this APS is to disseminate information about this activity to prospective applicants so that they may develop and submit applications for USAID funding of one or more grants or cooperative agreements. This APS: (1) provides brief background concerning disaster vulnerability and program history in South Asia; (2) describes the program aim, results and types of activities for which applications will be considered; (3) explains the criteria for evaluating applications; (4) describes the level of funding available and the process and requirements for submitting applications; and (5) refers prospective applicants to related documentation available on the Internet.


A critical element of the USAID/DCHA/OFDA strategic plan is Intermediate Result 1.4: "Increased adoption of mitigation measures in countries at greatest risk of natural and human-caused disasters." For this purpose, mitigation is defined as any sustained action that reduces or eliminates risk to people, livelihoods, and property from natural hazards. Mitigation is accomplished by reducing vulnerability, increasing the capacity of risk management systems, or by modifying, where possible, the hazard.

USAID/DCHA/OFDA is engaged in a wide variety of disaster mitigation, preparedness and response activities in Asia. Some examples of types of programs to which OFDA has provided support include: public outreach addressing natural disasters; seismic retrofit demonstration; community-based disaster vulnerability assessment and mitigation planning; support to the development or refinement of national disaster management plans; and medical first response and search and rescue capacity-building. In this regard, and through ongoing collaboration with a variety of national and regional institutions, USAID/DCHA/OFDA has worked to strengthen the linkages between the trio of disaster mitigation, preparedness and response, and development.

While USAID has supported disaster mitigation and preparedness activities in South Asia for many years, recently, members of the U.S. Congress have urged USAID to increase its disaster preparedness programs and activities in South Asia (H.R. 2506 Conference Report, December 19, 2001). Congress specifically requested the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to increase support for activities that prevent unnecessary loss of life and property during frequent natural disasters such as cyclones, earthquakes and floods. These activities should also promote regional cooperation and stability.

South Asia is extremely vulnerable to both seismic and hydro-meteorological hazards such as floods, typhoons, droughts, and derivative disasters such as forest fires and landslides. This vulnerability is compounded by socio-economic conditions that exacerbate the impact of disasters. These conditions include: 1) population pressures--increasing number of people affected, and resulting in more people inhabiting marginal lands, such as flood plains, deserts, earthquake prone areas and steep slopes; 2) environmental degradation--negatively affecting the natural resiliency to disasters; and 3) investments in infrastructure in hazard prone areas-increasing vulnerability and potential loss of economic assets. Because disaster response organizations in South Asia typically suffer from a lack of resources, the impacts of natural disasters have a further reaching impact than they otherwise would. Thus, OFDA is committed to enhancing the preparedness and response capacities of countries and assisting the implementation of mitigation programs that will lessen the impact of natural disasters in South Asia.

USAID/OFDA and USAID Bilateral Missions in Asia have found community-based disaster preparedness and mitigation activities to be some of the most effective ways of reducing disaster vulnerability. The first line of disaster response is always at the local level, where simple planning and preparedness measures can greatly reduce the impacts of natural hazards. USAID also realizes that many natural hazards transcend local and national boundaries and require cooperation from neighboring governments. Disaster preparedness is an area where countries are often very willing to share ideas and cooperate to meet compelling humanitarian needs. USAID/OFDA seeks to support regional efforts that will complement and help to spread best practices in disaster preparedness and mitigation, including community-based efforts, throughout the region.


USAID/DCHA/OFDA is inviting applications to implement both community-based disaster management projects and regional projects for enhanced cooperation in disaster preparedness and vulnerability reduction. Projects should help to encourage the development of a culture of mitigation among the most disaster prone countries and their communities in the region. Such activities could further existing programs and/or begin new efforts.

Activities should be implemented in areas where disasters affect the greatest number of people, and have the most significant economic impact. Innovative approaches that may require initial pilot phases in less vulnerable areas should be structured to eventually address the needs of the most vulnerable areas within the overall project scope.

USAID/DCHA/OFDA plans to award multiple grants to enhance disaster preparedness and mitigation in three disaster-prone South Asian countries: Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Projects that enhance cooperation on a broader regional level will also be considered as part of this program. Program duration will be up to five (5) years.

These activities must follow three program principles: applicability (demonstrate obvious and direct impact on the vulnerability of at-risk communities); replicability (simplicity in concept and implementation to ensure effective duplication elsewhere); and institutionalization (successful interventions and lessons learned are accepted and institutionalized within government and NGO policies and programs).


Program activities eligible for funding should be specifically designed to facilitate the efforts of governments and communities to change their planning, policies and procedures consistent with IR 1.4 ("Increased adoption of mitigation measures in countries at greatest risk of natural and human-caused disasters.") of the USAID/DCHA/OFDA strategic plan. These activities may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Programs that improve capacities at the local level to gather information on past natural disasters, their impact on the community, and traditional local coping strategies used in dealing with these events. Using this information, these programs should demonstrate how traditional coping strategies and lessons learned from other similarly at-risk communities and countries can be used as tools to mitigate the effects of natural hazards at the local level.

  • Outreach programs to develop and implement mechanisms that increase community awareness and improve management of natural hazard risks and vulnerabilities.

  • Programs that promote the use of appropriate vulnerability reduction practices at the community level with demonstrated sustainability and long-term viability. These programs may include both structural and non-structural interventions.

  • Programs that demonstrate strong training components for community leaders and possess communication and coordination mechanisms that facilitate the development and continuation of enhanced disaster preparedness and response capabilities.

  • Programs that link community disaster preparedness to state and national disaster management networks, thereby increasing the capacity and effectiveness of existing disaster management institutions.

  • Programs to identify and incorporate hazard awareness and risk management criteria into local development programs, working through local officials, community development organizations, private sector organizations, schools, and local emergency preparedness committees.

  • Programs that increase awareness and understanding at the local levels of the sectoral impact of natural hazards, such as on agriculture, food security, water, health, and environment; and develop planning tools for risk reduction, and disaster preparedness and response capabilities in these sectors.

  • Programs that improve understanding of the economic and social benefits of using climate/weather and hydrologic monitoring and forecasting technology for enhancing disaster preparedness. Programs that illustrate to regional institutions, national governments and local communities how early warnings may be utilized as an economic loss reduction tool.

  • Programs that link to monitoring, forecasting and early warning organizations, and assist with warning dissemination to allow incorporation of forecasting and early warning information for enhanced community disaster preparedness.

  • Recognizing that another El Nino event (ENSO warm cycle) may be forming this year, programs that demonstrate timely and effective use of climate/weather and hydrologic forecasts to reduce the negative El Nino impacts, and/or capitalize on its positive effects, at the regional, national and local level. Programs that enable vulnerable communities and local groups to understand climate forecasts and to undertake corresponding disaster preparedness and mitigation activities.

  • Programs that improve dialogue and cooperation among the different agencies involved in disaster preparedness, response and mitigation. These agencies may include, but are not limited to, the meteorological services, agricultural, water and health agencies, disaster response and management agencies, private sector organizations, academic and technical agencies, at the regional, national and local levels. These programs should enhance exchange of information and lessons learned, and encourage collaboration at the international and regional levels, for hazard risk reduction and disaster preparedness.

  • Programs that promote the incorporation of flood and drought management strategies into natural resource management planning at the regional, national and local level. These programs should focus on actionable strategies for vulnerability reduction within existing institutional structures, as opposed to programs that require difficult and time-consuming institutional change.

  • Programs that incorporate innovative approaches and technologies for reducing risk to vulnerable communities. These approaches must be appropriate to the local context, but may include technologies that are new and therefore require pilot activities with action research to guide larger scale implementation. Only activities with a high likelihood of significant vulnerability reduction will be supported.


1. Funding Available and Number of Awards: USAID/DCHA/OFDA plans multiple awards to support disaster preparedness and mitigation activities in Bangladesh, India and Nepal -- although a broader group of South Asian countries may be included in regional activities -- for up to five years. OFDA anticipates a maximum combined total of $2,500,000 to support all of the awards over the five-year period of implementation. Activities may be funded incrementally, and support will be contingent upon performance and availability of funds. While no ceiling has been established on individual applications, applicants are encouraged to keep costs reasonable in relation to the scope of their proposed activities, recognizing that the total funding under this APS will cover a range of efforts.

USAID reserves the right to award cooperative agreements instead of grants if deemed more desirable or appropriate. USAID shall not be liable for any costs incurred by applicants in the preparation and submission of concept papers or applications.

(Applicants should note that USAID policies make foreign governmental organizations [i.e., organizations which function as governing bodies, such as foreign ministries and local governments] and foreign government-owned organizations, [i.e., host government agencies or firms operated as commercial companies or other organizations -- including nonprofit organizations other than public educational institutions -- which are wholly or partially owned by a host government or agencies thereof] ineligible for USAID financing unless waivers are approved or special approvals are provided. Even if a waiver is approved or special approval is provided, potential applicants must consider the impact of foreign governmental organizations' and government-owned organizations' sovereignty on issues such as audits, cost disallowance, disputes, etc. In addition, USAID policies do not permit the payment of "salary supplements" to employees of a host government except in exceptional circumstances. Additional guidance on salary supplements may be found at:

2. Types of Assistance: If USAID elects to award a cooperative agreement instead of a grant, a cooperative agreement will permit the "substantial involvement" of USAID/DCHA/OFDA in program activities. Specifically, OFDA may be substantially involved, for example, through approval of annual work plans and key staff appointments, approval of program monitoring and evaluation plans, approval of subcontracts and subagreements (and technical/programmatic provisions thereof) and subcontractors and subrecipients, and collaborative involvement in the selection of advisory committee members (if applicable).


Concept Papers: Applicants must first submit a concept paper (maximum three pages). A concept paper is an organization's presentation of a fundamental project concept or idea. The concept paper will not be reviewed for the purpose of making an award. OFDA will review the concept paper, and if the review results are positive, the applicant will be requested to prepare and submit a full application based on the concept paper. OFDA will not review full applications that have not passed the concept paper review process. Favorable review of the concept paper does not guarantee final USAID funding. Concept papers will be treated confidentially according to federal regulations.

The concept paper must include, but is not limited to, the following elements: the proposed activity(ies) and anticipated benefits, benefiting country(ies), timeframe, proposed implementing partners, and total estimated cost.

Full Applications: Full applications will be written in accordance with the "OFDA Guidelines for Grant Applications and Reporting (Oct 1998)." In brief, OFDA's recommended format for the application includes: executive summary; problem analysis; program goal and objectives; program description; management, administration and security; monitoring and performance measurement; and budget. Documents should be submitted in English. Documentation in other languages may be included as long as there is an English translation. No maximum number of pages is specified for full applications, but brevity is appreciated.

Submission Deadline: This APS is open for six months from the date of issuance, although OFDA plans to review concept papers in batches. Concept papers submitted by 4 p.m. Kathmandu time on 22 May 2002 will be included in the first batch for review. OFDA will review the first batch of concept papers on or about 31 May 2002, and will request full applications based on favorably reviewed concept papers. Applicants requested to submit full applications, will have until 4 p.m. Kathmandu time on 1 July 2002 for application submission. Subsequent reviews of concept papers will be conducted on 15 July 2002 and 16 September 2002.

Application Submission: Applicants are requested to send their concept papers and/or applications to the Contracting Office at USAID, Kathmandu, Nepal (address below). It is preferred that concept papers and applications be submitted in an electronic version using Microsoft Word 97 and Excel 97 formats (on diskette or via email). USAID will also accept faxed copies at the fax number listed below and/or hard copies which may be hand delivered to the bid box at the USAID guard gate located the following address:

Ram Nath Gurung
Contracting Office
US Agency for International Development
Rabi Bhawan, Kathmandu, Nepal
Phone: (977)-1-270392, 270144
Fax No. (977)-1-277562
E-mail address:

Any questions regarding this APS should be directed to Ram Nath Gurung, USAID/Kathmandu.


1. Geographic Focus: Activities must benefit the communities and countries that are most vulnerable to natural hazards in South Asia. The focus countries are Bangladesh, India and Nepal, but a broader group of South Asian countries may be included in regional activities. Proposed activities may take place in a single country, or in multiple countries. If activities take place in multiple countries, preference will be given for activities that promote regional cooperation.

2. Contextual Knowledge: All applicants must posses a clear understanding of and appreciation for the diverse cultural practices in South Asia, and an ability to design and implement projects within existing cultural norms and realities, engaging maximum input, participation, and "buy-in" from target communities. Care should be given to maintain a gender balance in all activities, and to targeting women when necessary to achieve that balance. In keeping with this, applicants must therefore possess the capability and skills to accurately assess capacities and vulnerabilities of targeted communities for the purpose of fully utilizing and integrating these capacities into project design and implementation.

3. Past Performance: Applicants must have a demonstrated track record of implementing successful hazard reduction programs at the community level, if proposing community-level activities, and at the regional level, if regional activities are proposed. All other evaluation factors being equal, preference will be given to applications that demonstrate recent vulnerability reduction work in one or more of the South Asian countries.

4. Institutional Capability: Applications must demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding of natural disaster reduction programs and practices, and linkages to regional and international organizations involved in disaster mitigation. All other evaluation factors being equal, preference will be given to applications that reflect strong linkages and contributions to a national and regional vulnerability reduction agenda.

5. Duration: The program shall not exceed five (5) years, and shall have demonstrable results by mid-year of the third year. This requirement is necessary in the event that additional funding is unavailable, or the program is not funded by USAID/DCHA/OFDA for the fourth and fifth years.

6. Monitoring and Evaluation: Applications should include a general plan for monitoring and evaluating program progress, results and impact against stated objectives. The methodology chosen for this should be determined at the onset of the program to ensure data is collected and issues are documented during the implementation phase, and that reporting reflects impact of the activities being implemented. The monitoring and evaluation plan and the methodology must be consistent with OFDA Guidelines for Grant Proposals and Reporting (Oct 1998). As much as possible, evaluations should be made available to the public, to encourage use of its data and application of lessons learned.

7. Consultation and Coordination: Applicants will need to demonstrate that their proposed activities have been discussed with and agreed to by community leaders and/or relevant government officials, as well as by any implementing partners, and that adequate consultation has taken place with other organizations to avoid duplication of efforts. Programs are encouraged to promote interaction and cooperation across a range of stakeholders and partners, including relevant governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, local businesses, academicians, emergency response and management entities, and community groups.

8. Responsibility: All applicants must have financial management systems, internal control systems, and policies and procedures which comply with USG and USAID standards, as set forth in 22 CFR 226, OMB Circulars A-21 (for universities) or A-122 (for non-profit organizations) and A-133 (for both U.S. universities and U.S. non-profit organizations) or 48 CFR 31.2 (for for-profit organizations), and ADS-303, including the standard provisions for U.S. or non-U.S. nongovernmental organizations which are mandatory references to ADS-303, and also including references contained in said standard provisions (e.g., the USAID Inspector-General's "Guidelines for Financial Audits Contracted by Foreign Recipients," which applies to non-U.S. organizations in lieu of OMB Circular A-133). Public International Organizations (PIOs or IOs) will be subject to ADS-308, including the standard provisions set forth in ADS-308.5.15. Potential for-profit applicants should note that USAID policy prohibits the payment of fee/profit to the prime recipient under grants and cooperative agreements. However, if a prime recipient has a subcontract with a for-profit organization for the acquisition of goods or services (i.e., if a buyer-seller relationship is created), fee/profit for the subcontractor is authorized.


The OFDA South Asia Regional Office, OFDA/Washington and other relevant U.S. Government Technical Agencies will review applications in accordance with the following evaluation criteria and respective weights (out of a total of 100 points):

Program Viability 25 points

The program description shall be evaluated based on the likelihood of achieving the expected results within the proposed timeframe and budget, and the appropriateness of the activities with respect to achieving OFDA's objectives for disaster mitigation in Asia. The program description must be results-oriented, be written in the active voice, and answer the questions: who, what, where, when, why and how. Applicants are encouraged to review "Results-Oriented Assistance: A USAID Sourcebook," which may be found at:

Program Priorities 25 points

  • Applicability: Priority will be given to those activities that transfer critical knowledge and skills at the community and local level, rather than broad management skills to government administrators. Activities that will significantly enhance regional cooperation are an exception.

  • Replicability: Priority will be given to activities that are low-cost (i.e. affordable to local communities and governments), that are relatively easy to implement, and that are transferable to similarly at-risk communities within the same country or elsewhere in the region.

  • Institutionalization: Priority will be given to activities that enhance prospects for integration of disaster preparedness and mitigation into local development plans and policies, and demonstrate linkage and contribution to a national and regional vulnerability reduction agenda.

  • Creativity: Priority will be given to activities that utilize creative, innovative and effective approaches to disaster preparedness and mitigation.

Contextual Knowledge 15 points

  • Clear understanding of the political, cultural, social, and institutional norms in targeted areas.

  • Incorporation of lessons learned from past mitigation programs in the region.

  • An understanding of local capacities and demonstrated inclusion of the affected populations in program planning and implementation.

  • An understanding of the community dynamics and planned steps for gender-integration and -balance in activities at all levels.

Institutional Capability/Past Performance 15 points

  • Natural hazard mitigation activities performed in one or more of the candidate countries in the past.

  • On-the-ground presence in country(ies) proposed in program.

  • Technical capacity related to hazards being addressed.

  • Organizational performance record in Asia.

  • Effective results achieved in past work related to disaster mitigation.

  • Strong and productive relationships with former and current partners and beneficiaries.

  • Appropriate targeting of vulnerable communities.

Applicants must submit a list of all contracts, grants or cooperative agreements involving similar or related programs over the past five years, to include the location(s), name and current telephone number and/or e-mail address of at least one person knowledgeable of the applicant's work on each such program, award numbers for each program (if available), and a brief description of the work performed.

Personnel 10 points

  • Key personnel must demonstrate relevant experience in managing international programs and working collaboratively with Asian governments and disaster-related organizations.

  • Key personnel must demonstrate relevant experience in working with community organizations and/or regional organizations.

  • Program personnel must demonstrate sector-specific technical capability in the proposed areas and appropriate language skills.

Curricula Vitae, no more than five pages long, should be included for key program personnel.

Cost 10 points

  • Cost Effectiveness: Percentage of overall budget going as direct assistance to beneficiaries; significance of program impact in terms of number of beneficiaries and cost per beneficiary.

  • Cost Realism: Likelihood that the program can be accomplished within the stated budget.

  • Cost-Sharing: Extent to which the applicant intends to use its own funds, and/or those of other non-USG donors.


The "OFDA Guidelines for Grant Proposals and Reporting (Oct 1998)" may be obtained from the USAID/DCHA/OFDA Website at:

Resulting awards to U.S. non-governmental organizations will be administered in accordance with Chapter 303 of USAID's Automated Directives Syst