The European Commission earmarks € 6 million for natural disaster preparedness in Nepal and other South Asian countries(15 February 2006).
Kathmandu, 15 February 2006
The European Commission earmarks € 6 million for natural disaster preparedness in Nepal and other South Asian countries.
The European Commission has earmarked € 6 million from the humanitarian aid budget to step up its natural disaster preparedness efforts in South Asia, including in Nepal. The funds will be channelled through the Commission’s humanitarian aid department (ECHO) under the direct responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel. The assistance provided by this third DIPECHO action plan is aimed at improving the response capacity of the local population in one of the most natural disaster-prone regions of the world.
With its floods, landslides, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and forest fires, South Asia - together with South-East Asia - is one of the most natural disaster-prone regions of the world. Social and political structures, population pressure, building and agricultural practices and economic development combine to make South Asia’s population extremely vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters.
As Louis Michel puts it: “Recent disasters in the region - the most violent being the tsunami on 26 December 2004 and the earthquake in Pakistan on 8 October 2005 - have clearly demonstrated the importance of disaster preparedness. Simple actions can save lives, speed up recovery and reduce the impact of new disasters. We are far from helpless in the face of natural disasters. Disaster preparedness is helping people help themselves.”
The current third ECHO Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO) for South Asia is the result of wide-ranging consultations held in April and May 2005 among more than 150 humanitarian aid and disaster preparedness professionals from NGOs, international organisations, local authorities and the scientific community. They were asked to identify the most urgent needs and the communities and regions most vulnerable. They were also asked at what level DIPECHO’s assistance would be most effectively targeted: grassroots, local, national or regional.
As a result, Nepal, a country in the throes of a conflict ignored by the media, has come out as being in need of more substantial support. It is victim to disasters all year round and lives under constant threat of a major earthquake in the Kathmandu valley.
This initiative will also cover Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, countries also frequently hit by natural disasters.
By its support to the region, the European Commission aims to continue promoting the objectives confirmed at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe (Japan) in January 2005.
For more information: Delegation of the European Commission to Nepal. Tel. 4429445/6. E-mail: Delegation-Nepal@cec.eu.int & Website: www.delnpl.cec.eu.int
Mr. Eduardo Lechuga-Jimenez
Acting Head of the Delegation of the EC to Nepal