USAID/OFDA South Asia Newsletter March and April 2011
**Supporting Disaster Preparedness in Asia **
On March 11, the world watched as massive tsunami waves tore through villages along the northeastern coast of Japan, killing thousands of people, destroying houses, and displacing hundreds of thousands of people in what is now considered the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. Against this backdrop, leaders from Asian nations and global donors came together on April 15 in Washington, D.C., to advance disaster preparedness and risk reduction across Asia. Co-sponsored by USAID, the Government of Nepal (GoN), the World Bank, the U.N., the U.S. Department of State, and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, the oneday conference helped to strengthen awareness of the importance of disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategies in Asia and provided donors and government officials with an opportunity to discuss ways to mainstream DRR into longer-term policy and planning.
“We are making an effort to shift the paradigm from reaction to prevention,” stated U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero. Participants noted that investments in DRR can have immeasurable benefits following a disaster, highlighting Japan as a recent example. While the tsunami caused significant damage to coastal villages, little damage or deaths were caused by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake—a testament to Japan’s long-standing commitment to using seismically sound building codes, which perhaps saved thousands of lives. The conference also recognized recent efforts taken by the GoN to prepare for disasters, including a potential large-scale earthquake, and reduce its exposure to risks.