The UK and Chinese Governments are working together to help low-income countries increase their resilience to natural disasters, with the launch in Beijing of a new programme to strengthen regional cooperation on disaster management in Asia.
The UK Department for International Development, Ministry of Civil Affairs of China and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will collaborate under a new programme, Sharing and Learning on Community-Based Disaster Management in Asia. The programme will support strengthened regional cooperation on building resilience to natural disasters. The first phase will run until March 2015, with a UK investment of £3 million to provide technical support, and Chinese contribution of government staff, facilities and technologies, and domestic programme resources. UNDP will provide programme management.
The programme sits under the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2011 by the British and Chinese Governments, which established a new partnership to work together on shared international development objectives to reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This is the second programme launched under the partnership; the first – targeting food insecurity in Africa and elsewhere - was launched in November 2012.
The new programme will support the sharing of expertise and technology between China, the UK, and other developing countries in Asia, through community-level visits and pilots, joint research and new information-sharing platforms. The Governments of Bangladesh and Nepal have been proposed as the initial partners.
The programme was launched by Gu Zhaoxi, Chinese Vice Minister of Civil Affairs, Joy Hutcheon, Director General of the UK Department for International Development, and Patrick Haverman, UNDP China Deputy Country Director, alongside Sun Yuanjiang, Deputy Director General of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, Sk. Mizanur Rahman, Joint Secretary of the Bangladesh Ministry for Disaster Management and Relief, and Mr. Binod Chandra Jha, Joint Secretary of the Nepal Ministry of Urban Development. Around 60 people attended the launch.
The programme is an important step forward in China and the UK’s international development partnership,and a measure of our shared commitment to reducing the impact of disasters on some of the most vulnerable communities in Asia.
The launch of the Sharing and Learning on Community-Based Disaster Management in Asia programme highlights the joint China-UK response to Asia’s situation as the world’s most natural disaster-prone region. On average, natural disasters caused over 65,000 deaths in Asia and affected almost 220 million people each year between 2002 and 2011. Truly catastrophic events have become more common: the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 claimed 226,408 lives and in 2008, Cyclone Nargis killed 133,655 and 87,150 people died in China’s Wenchuan earthquake. Although recent experience has prompted some improvement, regional coordination and cooperation in disaster management can still be improved further.