NONTABURI, THAILAND - (September 15, 2005) The development of improved disaster warning systems was the subject of a technical assistance agreement concluded today between the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and Thailand's National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC). The $597,000 grant was awarded as part of USTDA's commitment to assist Thailand and other Indian Ocean countries in emergency warning communications and collaboration on post-tsunami reconstruction.
The grant also supports the coordinated U.S. Government $16.6 million initiative for the development of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS) for tsunamis and related natural disasters. USTDA's partnering agencies, also present at the ceremony, include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service.
A signing ceremony was held at NDWC to officially confer the award. Mr. Alexander A. Arvizu, Charge d'Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, and Vice Minister Dr. Plodprasop Suraswadi, Executive Director of NDWC, signed the grant agreement on behalf of the U.S. and Thai governments, respectively.
The USTDA grant will support disaster warning systems integration and capacity building that will assist the NDWC in developing a strategic and technical roadmap to automate the current management and notification infrastructure. This technical cooperation will provide NDWC with the tools to automate its data collection, assessment and notification systems and procedures. The USTDA-funded technical assistance will help NDWC to lower its response time from event detection to public notification.
The project will include hands-on integration and implementation of special-purpose software and operational procedures. It will also involve the deployment of a scalable operations center technology platform that is interoperable with other communications systems. NDWC selected the Pacific Disaster Center, based in Honolulu, Hawaii, to conduct the technical assistance.
This year, USTDA has identified 17 projects related to tsunami reconstruction efforts in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India that are eligible for potential grant funding by the agency. These projects amount to over $6 million in collaborative efforts in energy, emergency communication, transportation, and environmental projects that offer significant opportunities for U.S. commercial involvement.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries. The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment. USTDA's strategic use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade, investment and sustainable economic development. In carrying out its mission, USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of goods and services.
CONTACT: Donna Thiessen (703) 875-4357