Chronic conflict, earthquakes, recurrent seasonal storms, floods, and droughts, as well as limited government re-sponse capacity, present significant challenges to vulner-able populations in South Asia. Between Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 and FY 2011, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disas-ter Assistance (USAID/OFDA) and USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) have provided humanitarian as-sistance in response to a diverse range of natural and complex emergencies in the region, including cyclones in Bangladesh, earthquakes in India and Pakistan, and com-plex crises in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Between FY 2002 and FY 2011, USAID provided more than $1.2 billion in disaster response assistance in South Asia. USAID/OFDA assistance included more than $546 million for programs in health, nutrition, protection, agricul-ture and food security, livelihoods, humanitarian coordina-tion, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene, as well as logistics and relief commodities. USAID/FFP assistance included more than $700 million in food aid.
In the last decade, USAID deployed multiple humanitarian assessment teams to the region, including six Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs). In December 2004, members of a multi-country DART responded to the impacts of the Indian Ocean tsunami in India and Sri Lanka. A DART also deployed to Bangladesh in FY 2008 after Cyclone Sidr. However, the majority of recent DARTs in South Asia were deployed to Pakistan, including DARTs following the Muzaffarabad earthquake in FY 2006, conflict and displacement in FY 2009, and country-wide flooding in FY 2010 and FY 2011. USAID has also activated multiple Washington, D.C.,-based Response Management Teams to support DART coordination and response efforts in the region.
Due to the recurrent or chronic nature of many of the disasters that affect the region, USAID/OFDA priorities include supporting and promoting activities to help reduce the vulnerability of populations at risk of climate- and human-induced disasters, as well as to increase resiliency to future shocks. USAID/OFDA has developed a DRR strategy in the region to complement emergency assistance interventions and address the underlying causes of vulnerability. The strategy emphasizes building local capacity to prepare for and respond to disaster events. As such, USAID/OFDA programs reduce the impact of emergencies in the region by increasing the capacity of local emergency response agencies and personnel and enabling communities to recognize hazards through early warning systems. DRR programs include flood preparedness in Bangladesh and the Hindu Kush-Himalayan mountain region, drought readiness in India, earthquake risk management in Nepal and Pakistan, and private sector partnerships for disaster management in India.