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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Global warming brings busy year for UN disaster teams


Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
Thursday December 27, 2007
Guardian Unlimited


Residents of Villahermosa, the capital of the state of Tabasco, are rescued by the Mexican navy
Residents of Villahermosa, the capital of the state of Tabasco, are rescued by the Mexican navy. Photograph: Gilberto Villasana/AFP/Getty Images
 


The United Nations office that sends expert teams around the world to help governments deal with natural disasters was busier than ever in Latin America this year, a fact it at least partially blames on climate change.The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, said in a statement that a record nine missions were dispatched to the region during 2007, among 14 sent around the globe, itself a higher than usual number
Of the 14 global missions, 70% were in response to hurricanes and floods, the OCHA statement said, calling this "possibly a glimpse of the shape of things to come given the reality of climate change."

In Latin America the proportion was even higher.

There were the rains in November that left most of the southern Mexican state of Tabasco under water for weeks, including large parts of the city of Villahermosa.

In October, Tropical Storm Noel triggered flash floods in the Dominican Republic that killed dozens. In September, Honduras faced the category five Hurricane Felix, just as Jamaica and Belize had been battered by the similarly strong Hurricane Dean the month before.

In South America, Uruguay suffered its worst flooding in 50 years and hundreds of thousands of Bolivians were inundated and their crops ruined at the beginning of the year, warranting two UN missions alone.

The remaining UN disaster team sent to the region went to help with the relief effort following an 8.0-magnitude earthquake along the Peruvian coast.

There were also other significant disasters which did not receive UN attention because the teams were not invited in by the local government. Hurricane Felix caused its greatest devastation in Nicaragua, but the UN mission was only sent to neighbouring Honduras.

"The number of disasters is increasing and it is connected to climate change but we cannot at this juncture directly link any one incident," OCHA spokesperson Stephanie Bunker told the Guardian. "More studies will have to be done before that is possible."

In 2006, the number of missions to Latin America was just two. In 2005 it was five.

Previously the highest number of missions to the region was the eight sent in 1998 after Hurricanes Mitch devastated Central America and Hurricane Georges ripped through the Caribbean.

Since its establishment in 1993, the OCHA has sent 167 disaster assessment missions. The largest number were in response to the tsunami and earthquake that killed around 230,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean nations on Boxing Day 2004. This year, aside from the missions to Latin America, the UN also sent teams to Madagascar, Pakistan, and Ghana in response to floods, as well as to the Solomon Islands following an earthquake and tsunami, and to Laos to help with disaster preparedness efforts.



Sri Lanka tested satellite disaster warning system to be used in India


 

Dec 27, 2007 (LBO) – A digital satellite radio disaster alert system that can be remotely activated which was field tested in Sri Lanka is now ready for use in the region to give early warning of tsunamis, officials said.

The Addressable Radio for Emergency Alert (AREA) system can send disaster alerts within seconds of its transmission by government authorities and also has the advantage of activating a siren.

The system is also expected to be adopted in India, which along with Sri Lanka, was among several countries that suffered from the 2004 tsunami.

The system, which has early-warning emergency messages, audio and visual alarms, was tested in a study conducted by LIRNEasia, a regional policy think tank, and Sarvodaya, a charity, in 32 Sri Lankan coastal villages.

"The product is digital satellite radio – it means there's no ground infrastructure at all," said Rohan Samarajeeva of LIRNEasia.

"It is a very small device about the size of my palm and can be taken around. It can give warnings in text and audio in multiple languages."

The device was designed for community-based disaster relief by LIRNEasia and WorldSpace, a US-based wireless technology major.

"We are planning to introduce the product in India as early as possible," WorldSpace's Senior Vice-President S Rangarajan, was quoted as saying in Indian media reports.

"Optimistically, we expect to launch the system especially in the coastal districts, which are prone to natural disasters, by 2008. Later, we plan to move to other regions," said Rangarajan, formerly programme director at Indian Space Research Organisation.

Radio transmission is a very quick way of communicating warnings but the key ingredient is that the radio must usually be on.

"The unique feature of this product is that it can wake you up. Even if the device is off, it can be activated by the disaster warning centre," Samarajeeva said.

"If you're watching another channel, it will automatically switch you to the disaster channel – a feature not found in any other technology that we know of."

The technology has two applications: it can either be used for public warnings or for a community-based warning model, like the one tested in the island under which designated people in disaster prone areas are given prior training.

A pilot project started in December 2005 has just concluded.

"We're now in the dissemination phase educating people in the region. We did it in a closed user group, as only government's have the authority for public warning systems, to see it in real life conditions."

Samarajeeva said they concluded after the trial that for the community-based kind of service they want to use it for, the ideal solution was to use it with another technology like mobile phone to provide two-way communications capability.

"For this sort of thing you don't rely on one technology. It's called complimentary redundancy."

The Closed User Group Digital Audio Broadcast station system that was tested uses digital satellite radios over a WorldSpace channel to broadcast information to remote communities.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Sri Lanka says floods displace 175,000


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COLOMBO (Reuters) - Flash flooding in east and central Sri Lanka has forced 175,000 people from their homes, with many seeking refuge in makeshift welfare centers in schools and temples, officials said on Monday.

Heavy rains on Sunday and Monday caused a reservoir to burst its banks in the eastern district of Batticaloa, where more than 40,000 families comprising around 150,000 people were displaced, said Ramya Siriwansa, deputy director of emergency operations at the National Disaster Management Centre.

The central district of Polonnaruwa was second-worst hit, with around 6,500 people displaced, with the balance affected in the northern districts of Jaffna and Trincomalee and the central district of Matale.

The inundation comes a week after 20,000 people were flooded out of their homes mainly in the eastern district of Ampara, when a depression over the Bay of Bengal intensified monsoon rains. Most of those people have since returned home.

"The flooding is due to heavy rains. A water tank has broken its banks in Batticaloa, so that is why most people have been affected," Siriwansa told Reuters. "There are 175,025 people displaced."

"Many are with friends and relatives, others are in camps and sheltering in schools and temples."

Flooding and displacement are common in Sri Lanka, where a southern monsoon batters the island between May and September, and a northeastern monsoon runs from December to February.

Batticaloa, on the eastern seaboard, was badly battered by the 2004 tsunami. The third anniversary of a disaster that left 35,000 people dead and missing in Sri Lanka alone is just two days away.

Flooding and drought are cyclical in Sri Lanka.

In January, around 60,000 people were displaced by flooding, with the southeastern district of Hambantota badly hit.

More than a dozen people were killed by landslides in the central hills at the time, hundreds of houses were damaged and thousands of people were stranded in makeshift welfare centers.

(Reporting by Simon Gardner; editing by Roger Crabb)




Sunday, December 23, 2007

Disaster: Choked roads hinder response

Disaster: Choked roads hinder response


Traffic must not be stopped, but diverted

21 hospitals have agreed to help during calamities


BANGALORE: If you thought the overflowing traffic in the city only got you late for work, here is a bit of a shocker.

Emergency services in the city are severely delayed because of traffic, resulting in delayed response to a disaster situation, M.A. Sadiq, Bangalore Urban Deputy Commissioner, said at a press conference on Saturday.

This was one of the key findings of the mock fire drill conducted at National Games Village in Koramangala as part of testing response mechanisms for disaster.

"We found that the traffic was affected in many places, blockades were reported from areas around Koramangala and even the Fire and Emergency Services took time to reach the spot," he said.

Brigadier B.K. Khanna, senior specialist at the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said that in case of disasters, traffic must not be stopped but diverted towards other roads.

"It is important to isolate the area so that all services are able to reach on time," he said.

Medical disasters

Twenty-one large private hospitals and five government hospitals have come forward to assist and co-operate in case of medical disasters, Mr. Sadiq said.

"We have many hospitals in the city and until recently we had no ideas about the specialised services they offer, their staff strength or the number of beds.

These hospitals have decided to forego any procedures when victims of medical disasters are brought from other hospitals."

Stating that weak security in malls was a big concern, Mr. Sadiq said he had requested the NDMA to issue guidelines about mall security.

"I have written to malls and cinema theatres in the city to install metal detectors and increase security measures in these public places," he said.

Training

The Disaster Management Cell of Bangalore Urban District is conducting training programmes for 23 government departments.

"We are educating officials about the role of their department and the role of different agencies in case of a disaster," Pradeep K., liaison officer of the cell told The Hindu.

These awareness programmes are conducted in association with the NDMA, National Institute of Disaster Management, and NIMHANS.




Saturday, December 22, 2007

India approves Rs 6bn disaster management plan


NEW DELHI: Indian Home Ministry on Monday approved a Rs 6 billion plan to address the critical gaps in the management of earthquake related disasters.

The concept paper prepared by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has been named National Earthquake Risk Mitigation Project (NERMP). A Home Ministry spokesman said the preparatory work for the detailed project spread over for next five years would be initiated after an approval from the Planning Commission.

The plan involves training of engineers, builders, architects and masons etc at the National Institute for Earthquake Management. It is to be set up in the Himalayan city of Dehradun. The plan also involves investment in the research and development of safe construction technology, which is at present lowest in South Asia.

While the USA, West European countries and Australia spend 4 to 6 per cent of total construction investment in the R&D for developing construction techniques, India and other countries in South Asia spend abysmally low amount to the tune of just 0.03 to 0.05 per cent. The proposed project is aimed to achieve following goals: Capacity building of various stakeholders groups like engineers, architects, faculty members of engineering colleges, site supervisors, contractors, lead masons and masons.

Creation of public awareness on earthquake risk and vulnerability, techno-legal regime, building safety. Creating an enabling techno-legal regime and its enforcement and compliance by different ministries of government of India and state governments. Institutional strengthening and R&D. Retro-fitting of lifeline structures starting with district hospitals in 229 high risk districts in seismic zones IV and V for demonstrative effect.



creating jobs, reducing poverty and improving the qualify of life says IPS

NEW YORK, Dec 21, 2007 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) -- Sithe Global Power, LLC, through its special purpose affiliate SG Bujagali Holdings, Ltd., (collectively, "Sithe Global") announced today with its partner, Industrial Promotion Services (K: 53.54, +0.72, +1.36%) ("IPS"), an affiliate of the Aga Khan Fund for African Development ("AKFED"), that their jointly owned special purpose company, Bujagali Energy Limited ("BEL"), a Ugandan company, has closed financing on a USD 682MM construction debt facility for the 250 MW Bujagali hydroelectric station located on the Nile River in Uganda, Africa. Multilateral and bilateral debt will be provided by European Investment Bank, International Finance Corporation ("IFC"), African Development Bank ("AfDB"), Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelinsslanden N.V. ("FMO"), Societe de Promotion et de Participation pour la Cooperation Economique ("Proparco")/Agence Francaise de Developpement ("AFD"), DEG-Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft MBH ("DEG") and KfW. Commercial debt will be provided by Standard Chartered Bank and Barclays/Absa Capital with Partial Risk Guarantee cover provided by International Development Association. The construction debt facilities committed for the project include USD 90MM in contingency and debt service reserve. A total of USD 190.9MM of equity for the Bujagali Project is being funded by Sithe Global, IPS and the Government of Uganda ("GOU"). Sithe Global's equity, which comprises approximately 65% of the total sponsor equity commitment/ownership in the project, is being funded by its majority owner, The Blackstone Group, together with investment funds managed by Reservoir Capital Group and Sithe Global management. Sithe Global has also secured Covered Risk insurance for its equity investment from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. IPS's equity, which comprises approximately 35% of the total sponsor equity commitment/ownership in the project, is being funded by AKFED, Jubilee Investment Company Limited and by IPS itself. Additional equity is being provided by the GOU. The Bujagali project is being undertaken as a "Public Private Partnership" between the GOU and the State-owned transmission company, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited ("UETCL") on the one hand, and Sithe Global and IPS on the other. Sithe Global and IPS were selected pursuant to a competitive international bidding process.

Uganda has one of the lowest rates of electrification in the world and currently faces a serious economic crisis due to the lack of power generating facilities capable of producing electricity at affordable prices. Uganda's electricity demand growth has outstripped the capacity of existing hydroelectric power generation facilities on the Nile River, causing severe disruptions to Uganda's economic activities and forcing reliance on expensive emergency generators that burn diesel transported by tanker trucks over long distances. The Bujagali project will provide substantial additional hydroelectric power generation capacity, producing power at a levelized cost of approximately USD 6.5 cents versus the current approximately USD 31 cents cost of diesel generation units, thus addressing a national policy priority and facilitating Ugandan economic growth.

The Bujagali project will be comprised of a dam and hydropower station of 250 MW capacity on the Nile, 10 KM from the outflow of Lake Victoria, downstream of the existing Nalubaale and Kiira dams. The project will provide power from an indigenous and renewable resource with low carbon dioxide emissions, re-utilizing water already used for power generation at the upstream dams and therefore contributing to sustainable development. BEL will make available generating capacity and will sell power to UETCL under a power purchase agreement. The five generating units will be commissioned sequentially as each becomes available, ensuring that the benefits of the project will be delivered to the people of Uganda at the earliest opportunity. The first unit is expected to be commissioned during the fourth quarter of 2010. When fully commissioned, the Bujagali project will double Uganda's effective generation capacity. It represents one of the largest private power sector investments ever made in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The project is already under construction and approximately two to three months ahead of schedule as a result of a USD 75MM bridge loan that was advanced to BEL by the GOU. Proceeds from the GOU loan were used to finance engineering design, detailed site investigations, construction of permanent civil works, construction of camp-site and offices as well as the procurement of equipment, all of which provides a basis for an accelerated commissioning under the full notice to proceed that was issued today by BEL to the Contractor. The GOU has been repaid its loan in connection with this financial closing.

Hailing the attainment of the project's financial close as an historic event for the people of Uganda, the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development, Mr. Daudi Migereko, said, "This is a great tribute to public private partnership and a just reward for sacrifices that the Government has made on behalf of the people of Uganda. The Government has created an environment that has enabled blue chip lenders and BEL to commit financing for the project while at the same time safeguarding the interests of Ugandans through the GOU's equity ownership in the project as a result of its contribution of certain valuable assets, such as land and intellectual property, which had been previously developed. The loan refunded by BEL will now be returned to the Energy Fund for appropriate reutilization."

Recalling His Highness the Aga Khan's quote during the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the project, "Think of the difference it will make when the supply of power is adequate to the needs, and massive load-shedding becomes a distant memory", Mr. Lutaf Kassam, the Group Managing Director of IPS remarked that "adequate and affordable power supply will restore the competitiveness of the Ugandan manufacturers thereby creating jobs, reducing poverty and improving the qualify of life".

Bruce Wrobel, Sithe Global's Chairman and CEO, said, "Sithe Global is excited to be participating in a project that will have such far reaching but positive impacts to the Ugandan economy. Reliable power, especially of the clean and renewable variety, is one of the most important factors a potential investor considers when exploring a new opportunity for investment. We are proud to be adding to Uganda's already attractive investment outlook."

David Foley, a Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group with primary responsibility for Blackstone's investments in the energy sector, said "Blackstone is proud to invest alongside the Aga Khan Group and the Government of Uganda in the Bujagali project, which we believe will provide investors with favorable returns while providing significant economic benefits to the people of Uganda. Blackstone expects to continue to invest substantial equity in support of Sithe Global's growth plan as the company funds the construction of other power projects in its portfolio."

Sithe Global Power, LLC is owned approximately 80% by Blackstone SGP Capital Partners (Cayman) IV L.P., an affiliate of The Blackstone Group, and management, led by Mr. Wrobel, with the remaining approximately 20% stake held by the investment funds managed by Reservoir Capital Group. Blackstone purchased an 80% ownership interest in Sithe Global in 2005 with the objective of facilitating Sithe Global's plans to develop, finance, construct and operate electric power generation facilities in the U.S. and certain international markets. Sithe Global has a portfolio of power plant projects in various stages of development and construction, including: the 880 MW gas-fired combined cycle Goreway project under construction in Brampton, Ontario; the 1,500 MW Desert Rock facility, a coal-fired project in New Mexico; the 750 MW Toquop facility, a coal-fired project in Nevada; the 300 MW River Hill facility, a waste coal-fired project in Pennsylvania; a 1,000 MW project in Italy; and projects in Africa, the Middle East and other regions totaling approximately 5,000 MW of generating capacity.

About Industrial Promotion Services (K: 53.54, +0.72, +1.36%) Ltd.

IPS is the infrastructure and industrial development arm of AKFED. IPS has operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of the Congo and is also actively pursuing investment opportunities in Rwanda, Mozambique and Madagascar. Outside the East Africa and Central Africa regions, IPS also operates in Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, as well as Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Canada.

IPS's involvement in power comprises: the 288 MW Azito gas power plant in Cote D'Ivoire; concessionaire for Energie du Mali (power & water utility); Kenya's 75 MW diesel plant; and a vertically integrated off-grid utility involved in generation, distribution and sale of electricity in the West Nile district of Uganda. IPS companies in East Africa have a total workforce of approximately 8,500 employees

About the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development

AKFED is an international development agency dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship and building economically sound enterprises in the developing world. AKFED focuses on building enterprises in parts of the world that lack sufficient foreign direct investment. It also makes bold but calculated investments in situations that are fragile and complex.

AKFED operates as a network of affiliates with more than 90 separate project companies employing over 30,000 people. The Fund is active in 16 countries in the developing world: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Senegal, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Uganda.

AKFED's areas of interest comprise aviation, financial, industrial and infrastructure development, media and tourism promotion services. Further details on IPS and AKFED may be obtained from the website www.akdn.org.

About Sithe Global Power, LLC

Sithe Global is a privately held international independent power development and construction company which focuses on certain target markets in North America, Europe, Mexico, Africa and the Middle East. Sithe Global is led by a seasoned management and technical team with extensive independent power project development experience, and a proven record of identifying project development and acquisition opportunities which create substantial value for its investors. The Sithe Global management team has successfully developed more than 50 power plant projects in nine countries with a capital investment in excess of $5 billion.

About Blackstone

The Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) is a leading global alternative asset manager and provider of financial advisory services. Its alternative asset management businesses include the management of corporate private equity funds, real estate opportunity funds, funds of hedge funds, mezzanine funds, senior debt funds, proprietary hedge funds and closed-end mutual funds. Blackstone is an experienced and active investor in the energy sector, including investments in Premcor, Inc., one of the largest independent refiners of petroleum products in the U.S. prior to its acquisition by Valero in 2005; Texas Genco, a Houston-based wholesale electric power generating company; Foundation Coal (NYSE:FCL), a U.S. coal mining company; and Kosmos Energy, an oil exploration company. The Blackstone Group also provides various financial advisory services, including mergers and acquisitions advisory, restructuring and reorganization advisory and fund placement service. Further information is available at www.blackstone.com.

About Reservoir

Reservoir Capital Group is a privately held investment firm with an opportunistic 'hybrid' investment approach. Reservoir invests directly in public securities and private investments, as well as in partnership with investment teams through the creation of hedge funds and private equity firms in which the Reservoir funds are an owner. Reservoir's investment funds currently have over $3 billion under management.




Friday, December 21, 2007

Namibia: Region Meets On Disaster Preparedness

Namibia and seven other countries from Southern Africa met in South Africa early this month to discuss ways in which they can closely work together to combat the devastating effects of floods in the region.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says the eight countries, namely the Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa met to scale up disaster preparedness ahead of the rainy season.

In 2007, flood and wind damage caused by heavy rains and cyclones destroyed the livelihoods of more than one million people across the region.

In Namibia, the floods hit four constituencies in Caprivi Region, namely Kabbe, Katima rural, Linyanti, and Kongola and displaced more than 7000 villagers. Eleven schools were affected and 1120 pupils were relocated to other schools on higher ground - at Schuckmannsburg, Lusese and Kabbe.

In February this year the floods hit Namibia when heavy rains received in Angola resulted in the Zambezi River bursting its banks, flooding the Caprivi Region.

Many villages, fields, cattle and boreholes were submerged while nine people died from drowning, crocodile attacks and snakebites.

Even though the floods are a perennial event in the Caprivi Region, this year's were reported the worst since 1958.

The floods forced farmers at Muyako to prematurely harvest their crops in the fertile Lyambezi Lake, after the area was submerged.

According to the UN's humanitarian affairs office, emergency responders agreed to a draft declaration of intent to share information and capacities for emergency response, establish regional rapid response teams and develop protocols that allow for the free circulation of emergency personnel and relief materials in the region.

The group agreed on the need for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders to demonstrate the political will and financial commitment necessary to ensure the full implementation of their recommendations, including the re-activation of the SADC Disaster Risk Management Team.

In recognition of the high HIV prevalence levels throughout Southern Africa, the group agreed to pay special attention to integrating HIV prevention and care into emergency preparedness and response.

Two countries, South Africa and Madagascar, were quick to cement their commitment to regional cooperation. They signed an agreement to collaborate in the exchange of technical know-how, human resources and equipment in response to floods and cyclones next year.

"This year, many governments in the region have taken steps in their own countries to be better prepared for the current rainy and cyclone season, in particular undertaking contingency planning for disasters," said Kelly David.

Relevant Links

"And now, they are looking beyond that and how they can help each other and draw on international resources and technical expertise to better manage the impacts they all face from natural hazards."

David is the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Regional Office for Southern Africa, which hosted the emergency preparedness and response workshop.

International aid workers and officials from countries vulnerable to floods and cyclones attended the workshop held from December 5 to 7 in Johannesburg.



Monday, December 17, 2007

New focus is on disaster prevention

Realizing its extreme climate risks, India is now moving towards a proactive rather than reactive approach to disaster management, wherein prevention and preparedness are being seen as the thrust areas rather than relief and rehabilitation. Vinod Menon, member of the National Disaster Management Authority, says, "A paradigm shift is taking place towards disaster preparedness." A National Alliance of Disaster Risk Reduction formed last month aims to sustain this shift. 

Faced with recurring disasters, many of them due to extreme weather conditions, the common folks are also learning the value of disaster preparedness such as evacuation drills and networks of dormant volunteer groups that could be pressed into service in emergencies. 

People in tsunami hit Poompuhar village in Tamil Nadu learnt their lesson when a fisherwoman's foresight led to evacuation of 10,000 people from her village, sounding of alert in neighboring villages and rescue of over 250 people as the deadly waves crashed into the mainland. Her efforts required quick thinking, coordination and community assistance. With a similar coordination of village, state and national agencies including civil society groups, perhaps the devastation caused by the tsunami could have been reduced manifold.

Villages in Orissa, where floods, droughts or cyclones occur quite frequently, people have mobilized to safeguard trees ensuring conservation of forests, and reducing chances of soil erosion and flooding. Experts at a recently held national workshop on disaster relief reduction hailed the initiative as an example of simple and practical solutions for India's policy makers.

The Indian National Disaster Management Act 2005 explains disaster management as a continuous and integrated process of planning, coordinating and implementing mitigation, capacity building and assessment measures of any disaster as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Climate change has a direct bearing on almost all spheres of human life including poverty, housing, water, and sustainable development. It is magnified when 27 of the 35 states and UTs in India are disaster prone.

India's experience in dealing with disasters in the recent past has been mixed. Initiatives by NGOs, international organizations and government bodies have tried to provide timely assistance as seen during the tsunami, earthquakes and floods. The new preventive approach will change the way people approach hazards and create a fresh synergy between different organizations required to work in tandem in times of crisis.




Sunday, December 16, 2007

Global warming has already reached ‘tipping points’: Expert

Saturday,15.12.2007 (GMT)

Washington, A leading climate scientist has said that the global warming has already reached "tipping points", and that present levels of greenhouse gases will further worsen the climate on Earth.

 

James Hansen, a climatologist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, issued this warning during a presentation at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in San Francisco.

 

He recommended curbing the use of fossil fuels such as oil and coal to avoid any further climatic damage. He said that such fuels were responsible for most of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which are widely believed to be driving global warming.

 

Hansen revealed that the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere was enough to cause the Arctic sea ice cover and massive ice sheets such as in Greenland to eventually melt away.

 

He further said that uninterrupted changes would cause climatic zones like the tropics and temperate regions to continue to shift, and the oceans to become more acidic, endangering much marine life.

 

"I think in most of these cases, we have already reached the tipping point," the National Geographic quoted him as saying.

 

Hansen, however, said that mending the way people use energy might help prevent such damages.

 

"In my opinion, we have not passed the point of no return, so that it's still possible to avoid the impacts. The problem is that it's just been taken as a God-given fact that we're going to burn all of these fossil fuels and let the CO2 in the atmosphere," he said. 

 

"You just can't do that if you're going to keep this planet resembling the one that we've had for the last 10,000 years," he added.

 

According to Hansen, the oceans and land currently absorb roughly half of the CO2 people emit each year. If humans stopped emitting CO2 through fossil fuel use, he said, the gas would continue to be soaked up and levels in the atmosphere would drop.

 

"We have to figure out how to live without fossil fuels someday. Why not sooner?" he said.



Friday, December 7, 2007

Bangladesh: Disaster Management Information Centre situation report

Summary of Cyclone Sidr Response

Updated official report from MoFDM illustrates that the number of death caused by tropical cyclone 'SIDR' has risen to 3324 affecting 8.7 million people of 2 million families. These casualties and damages of houses, livestock, crops, educational institutions, roads and embankments have been reported from 1945 unions of 200 upazilas of 30 districts. Most deaths and damages have been attributed to the storm surge.

AFD is working on non-stop basis and carrying the relief goods to the local administrations, communities at the very remote locations by both BAF and US Aircrafts. Today US carried 7.492 ton relief items to affected areas.

Up to Wednesday, December 05, 2007 GoB have allocated approx 808 million BDT from Honorable Chief Advisor's Relief & Welfare Fund and DRR, MoFDM for the Sidr victims. GoB has also allocated 16890 MT GR Rice, distributed 27,000 food bags, 26700 blankets, 16454 tents, 3,348 carton utensils and 13,000 bundles of CI sheets by the Directorate of Relief and Rehabilitation (DRR).

MAP - Bangladesh: Cyclone SIDR - Damage Information (as of 6 Dec 2007)


Sunday, December 2, 2007

DG ECHO, AKF to implement disaster management accord

DG ECHO, AKF to implement disaster management accord
Sunday, December 02, 2007
ISLAMABAD: An agreement has been signed between the Aga Khan Foundation UK (AKF UK) and DG ECHO through its Disaster Preparedness Program (DIPECHO) to implement a project entitled “Building Local Leadership and Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction in Northern Pakistan.” The project will be implemented by Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan (FOCUS) in three districts in Northern Pakistan.

Northern Pakistan is a highly disaster prone area vulnerable to multiple natural hazards including landslides. Glacial lake outburst floods, debris/mud flow, earthquakes and flash floods. The remoteness and inaccessibility of the area makes it important to build a disaster response capacity of local communities.

With DG ECHO/DIPECHI’s support FOCUS will continue to build local community capacity and will partner with a variety of stakeholders. Including local government, to strengthen and institutionalise disaster risk management (including prevention, mitigation and preparedness) enhanced so that they are able to play a leadership role in disaster risk reduction and management.

The project will improve community and government knowledge of local hazards and natural disaster risks. High risk communities will benefit from small-scale mitigation work to reduce the level of physical vulnerability and will also be targeted with in depth hazard, vulnerability, capacity and risk assessments which will help to enhance their disaster preparedness. Data from these assessments will feed into the refinement of FOCUS’ risk reduction model.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Saudi Nurses Get Training on Disaster Management


Lulwa Shalhoub, Arab News
 

JEDDAH, 30 November 2007 — Eighteen Saudi nurses have completed a three-year training program in Japan, a Ministry of Health official said recently. This three-year program consisted of various workshops for teaching different areas of the field, such as disaster response and forensics.

"The Saudi-Japanese partnership serves as an instrument for the development of a three-year program leading to the professional and personal development of Saudi nurses in areas of nursing education and disaster-nursing management," said Dr. Muneera Al-Osaimy, director general of the General Directorate of Nursing at the Ministry of Health.

Disaster nursing was the main issue of discussion during the Second Scientific Symposium for Disaster Nursing Management that took place at King Fahd General Hospital on Tuesday.

"The basic topic today is about disaster nursing, which is convenient to be discussed at this time of the year before the Haj season," said Ryuichi Tomizawa, resident representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at the Embassy of Japan in Riyadh. "This training gives the opportunity for these nurses to utilize their knowledge in disaster nursing during Haj when many accidents happen."

He said that disaster-nursing project focuses on the procedures in treating injured people at accident sites and in establishing triage to diagnose and identify more seriously injured persons.

"Japan's government has been very cooperative in developing human recourses," said Toshimitsu Ishigure, consul general of Japan in Jeddah. "We have no oil or mineral resources so we are keen on developing our people. That is why we are happy to cooperate with Saudi Arabia to develop its human resources."

Al-Osaimy said that Japan is known for dealing with natural disasters, like earthquakes and volcanoes, and that the ministry was correct when it chose Japan for disaster nursing training.

"Nurses who underwent the three-year program are now capable of proper planning to deal with accidents that might occur, especially during Haj," said Tomizawa




Thursday, November 29, 2007

Severe storms

Thunderstorms, hail, blizzards, high winds and heavy rain can develop quickly and hit hard, threatening life and property. Here are some tips on what to do when a severe storm hits. Have your children and family members discuss and practice these methods for avoiding injury during severe storms.

Indoors

  • Stay away from windows, doors and fireplaces .
  • During thunderstorms, stay away from items that conduct electricity, such as telephones, appliances, sinks, bathtubs, radiators and metal pipes.
  • Do not go outside to remove laundry from the clothesline because it may conduct electricity.

Outdoors

  • Take shelter immediately, preferably in a building or, failing this, in a depressed area such as a ditch, culvert or in a cave. Never go under a tree.
  • If you are caught in the open , do not lie flat but crouch down with your feet close together and your head down (the "leap-frog" position). By minimizing your contact with the ground, you reduce the risk of being electrocuted by a ground charge.
  • Do not ride bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, golf carts or use metal shovels or golf clubs because they may conduct electricity.
  • Take cover if hail begins to fall . Do not attempt to cover plants, cars or garden furniture or to rescue animals. Hail comes down at great speed, especially when accompanied by high winds.
  • Never touch power lines: a hanging power line could be charged (live) and you could be electrocuted. Remember also that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after the end of the precipitation.

In a car

  • stop the car (away from trees or power lines that might fall on you) and remain in the car.

Minnesota's trauma translates to lessons in disaster management



Two history making disasters in August taught emergency managers in Minnesota and around the nation what works and what doesn't when the unthinkable becomes reality. Now lawmakers want to tap into that knowledge as the state gears up for the next big one.

"State and local efforts need to be well-coordinated, ready to move at a moment's notice and prepared to see the long-term recovery process through to the end," Representative Ryan Winkler said Wednesday.

Winkler and Senator Linda Higgins convened a legislative working group on disaster planning at the Capitol. Most of what they heard was pretty positive news, which is that training and interagency coordination paid off during the traumatic events of 2007.

"We had our collapsed structure team on site within 8 minutes," Rocco Forte testified.

The former Minneapolis fire chief now heads the city's emergency preparedness office, and was at the center of the storm, so to speak, the night the 35-W bridge collapsed. He ran the emergency operations center which was the nerve center of the massive rescue effort.

"We had victims in the water, we had victims in the debris, we had victims on the banks, and we had victims on the bridge itself."

Forte said had the bridge fallen down five years earlier it would have been a much more chaotic situation. But on that night years of planning, training and building strong relationships with other agencies paid off for the survivors.

"Through mutual aid we were able to take our force of 100 firefighters to about 600 firefighters in a matter of about a half hour."

He said the city's investment in 800 megahertz radios enabled unprecedented communication among emergency responders from different jurisdictions.

Forte remarked that level of cooperation doesn't come naturally. It takes a plan, and getting every agency on the same page before tragedy strikes.

"So not only Minneapolis knew the plan we were going to follow but all the partners who came in and worked with us knew and understood our plan beforehand."

The job of the Emergency Operations Center, he asserts, is to think of what rescuers will need and move it into position before they even arrive.

"For instance it's nighttime and we realize we're going to need lights. We realize we need generators, so we started moving that equipment up to staging areas before they get there."

Forte said the agency has already made some upgrades to its plans as a direct result of the bridge collapse, including having more stockpiles of medication on hand for episodes involving a large number of victims and rescuers.

If anything caught the emergency experts by surprise it was the speed at which sightseers converged on the huge accident scene, which added another layer of complication.

"After about the first 20 minutes of this incident we started having civilians coming in and taking trophy pictures," Forte said.

"At the time we didn't know what caused the bridge to collapse. It could have been terrorism, so we had to treat it as a crime scene."

The legislators also heard testimony on the National Guard's response to the flash floods in southeast Minnesota, which claimed seven lives in August.

Lieutenant Colonel Eric Waage remembered the urgent plea from the Winona County Sheriff, which came at 2:30am August 18.

"He said he had families hanging in trees and rooftops and vehicles swept away," Waage told lawmakers.

He said in the past it would take as long as three days to get the Guard mobilized, but that morning units started arriving within four hours.

"We were in a pretty good position to send units pretty quickly because the two units we selected were already drilling and were exercising for just such an event." Waage reflected.

What worked against them was the region's hilly terrain and blank spots for cell phone reception.

"You're surrounded on all sides by high bluffs and we have a lot of line-of-sight equipment," Waage said.

"What we were short of was satellite communication, and even then, satellites require a large horizon and we didn't have that horizon."

The heroes that come to mind first are the emergency responders and average citizens that put themselves in harm's way to help victims in the river and the rubble. The people coordinating the effort can't be ignored.




Tuesday, November 27, 2007

new trend was noticed when an earthquake hit Delhi


  NEW DELHI: The world's appetite for news breaks is definitely growing, fuelled in no uncertain terms by Live TV and Internet coverage. But a new trend was noticed when an earthquake hit Delhi and other adjoining areas of the National Capital at 4:40 am Monday morning.

The Net version of this paper, which is updated 24X7 with real time information, had put up the story about the tremor within a minute of its occurrence. While congratulatory messages from people flowing in is the norm whenever a good job is done, what struck one immediately was not that messages were coming in but that most of them were from readers within India.

One would normally expect the readership at that hour to be mostly from the Far East or the US, but for Indian users to access the Net for the latest information early on a cold winter morning was new. It shows two things. One, the Internet is emerging as a credible source of information for people, and two, and more importantly, it is entering their mind space to an extent that they seek it out as well to stay updated.

And the response from the cross-section of society validates that the Net has insidiously crept into their everyday system. Even as students from IIT and JNU campuses, call centre employees, housewives and professionals in the Capital and other parts of India were all praise for the speedy update, for the bunch of overseas Netizens in UK, US and Dubai alike, this brought in some relief to know that their family in India was safe. A much-relieved Lokesh from Dallas in the US wrote in to say, "Got the news while browsing for news in the US. The first thing I did was to call up my mother & brother in Delhi. Although the news sent jitters through me, it was good reporting."

Likewise for Kamal Goklani in St Maarten in the West Indies , who called up his sister in Delhi and Avinash Mathur Down Under who was able to reach out to his family in Delhi/Gurgaon after the news was flashed on the website. Neeraj from Malaysia also sent in a note appreciating "the fast update".

For the Indian audience, the story wasn't much different. Noida-based professional Aman Gupta , who rushed out of office along with other colleagues after the tremors, read the news first on TOI.com after having "searched lots of websites for the news". For JNU student Vikas Gupta the frustration with the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) website was visible. "You of course were the first to mention the quake! The IMD's dull website seems clueless and their toll-free weather phone no.18001801717 is useless".

For Noida-based Manish , the reference to the date 26 was uncanny. "It is 26th again! It is just a coincidence that all recent earthquakes have been felt on 26th. In many cases the day also happens to fall just 1-2 days after a full moon or new moon night."
Another reader, Ujjwal , himself is quite kicked about the power of the Net. The reader from Delhi says: I am surprised to see so many comments by 9:00 am. Indeed the power of the Internet can be visualised here. Even after the quake, so many people logged on to see if it is on the Net!"

There are many readers like Ujjwal for whom the Net is no longer a revolution but has become a commonplace reality. And as their numbers grow, the power of the mouse is definitely rising. And in the words of Vips from Delhi's Katwaria Sarai "You people are faster than earthquake", goes on to prove that news on the Net is no longer a mousy affair.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

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India offers to help Asia Pacific region build disaster management system

Bangalore (PTI): India on Thursday offered to share its experience in establishing a disaster management support system with countries in the Asia Pacific region.

"This region has a number of islands, large coastal line, and fishing community needing timely information," Secretary, Department of Space, G Madhavan Nair said in his address to the 14th session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) here.

"Low cost communication terminals for the fishermen community to provide information of impending events and rescue operations will go a long way," he said.

Nair, also Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, said the search and rescue method developed by India and the technology for data acquisition platform proven through the INSAT system can be of immense help in the area.

"The Indian satellite provides 'earth observation' once in 40 hours and soon it will be made on a daily basis".

Noting that Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency had taken the initiative to implement "Sentinel Asia" programme aimed at utilising earth observation satellite data for disaster management support system in Asia Pacific region, Nair said India would be playing a very major role in providing appropriate inputs and near real time data in this regard.

He also said there was an urgent need for having a constellation of microwave imaging satellites which can see through the clouds as well as to have more number of earth observation systems for meeting the needs and monitoring parameters which were of paramount importance, especially in the context of global warming.

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SAUDI GIVES 100MILLION TO CYCLONE HIT BANGLADESH



For detail write up click on link below

SAUDI GIVES 100MILLION TO CYCLONE HIT BANGLADESH


Saudi gives $100 mln cyclone-hit Bangladesh

Saudi gives $100 mln cyclone-hit Bangladesh

RIYADH - Oil-rich Saudi Arabia said on Monday it is giving Bangladesh 100 million dollars in emergency aid to help victims of a devastating cyclone, which left thousands dead.



Saturday, November 17, 2007

Safe India 2007’ showcases tools for disaster management

Safe India 2007' showcases tools for disaster management Staff Reporter

Sophisticated gadgets including devices for anti-Naxal operations on display
— Photo: K. Gopinathan

Gadgets galore: Chief Justice of Karnataka Cyriac Joseph; Jeeja Harising, DGP and CG Home Guards; Vatsala Watsa, Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department; and C. Chandrashekar, IGP Fire Services, at 'Safe India 2007' in Bangalore on Thursday.

BANGALORE: It looks very like an executive's briefcase. Open it and you find a lightweight, compact V-SAT communication device, which doubles up as a satellite phone for use in areas cut-off from communication.

The device, called S-Band Briefcase Terminal, is among the many equipment showcased as disaster management tools by the Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL). Developed in association with the Defence Research and Development Organisation and DEAL, Dehradun, BEL displayed this unique device at the three-day "Safe India 2007" exhibition on disaster management, organised by Directorate of Home Guards, Civil Defence and Fire and Emergency Services. The exhibition was inaugurated by Chief Justice of Karnataka Cyriac Joseph here on Thursday.

Deputy General Manager of BEL Manoj Kumar explained that the briefcase terminal helps in establishing a communication network in inaccessible areas which are totally cut-off. "The first man reaching the spot can establish the much-needed communication system and facilitate relief operations. This can be carried anywhere," he said.

Mr. Kumar said the Indian Army was extensively using the briefcase terminals in its combat operations. Chhattisgarh uses the device for their anti-Naxal operation. "Still, there have not been any requests from the States for using this device for disaster management operations," he said.

The Mobile Emergency Operation Centre (MEOC) is another offer from BEL. It looks similar to the vans used by the broadcast media. The all-terrain vehicle carries among other facilities, the VSAT (very small aperture terminal), video camera, video phone and a laptop computer. Communications can be set up within 30 minutes and links can be established with police stations across the country, using the POLNET facility.

This mobile unit can also establish contacts with the Prime Minister's office and many of the Central Government organisations.

Mr. Kumar said the Home Ministry's National Disaster Management was presently using seven such vehicles.

Knowledge base

Besides the stalls showing disaster management devices, the exhibition also showcases organisations involved in disaster management.

One such stall is that of the Green Hounds, the special anti-Naxalite force of Andhra Pradesh Police. "Dealing with Naxalities is also part of disaster management," said G. Krishna Murthy, Additional Superintendent of Police, as he spoke about the modern weaponry, communication equipment and other gadgets used by the force.

Mr. Murthy displayed the "heat-and-eat" food products procured from Mysore, "which sustains our men for 15 days in the jungle," he said.

The Directorate has a separate stall where the work of the Home Guards, Civil Defence and the Fire and Emergency Services is explained to children. The National Disaster Response Force of Central Industrial Security Force, Indian Coast Guard and Nuclear Power Corporation also display their disaster management mechanisms. A HAM (Amateur) Radio Station also finds a spot in the exhibition.

For more info log on to  Disaster Awareness




Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New guidelines on disaster management released

New Delhi (PTI): With natural and man-made disasters taking a heavy toll, the country is now gearing up to prevent mass casualties during calamities by setting up specialised trauma centres, burn facilities, blood banks and integrated ambulance network.

According to the guidelines prepared by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), which were released here on wednesday, emergency medical response at incident site, evacuation of casualties and hospital disaster management planning both for acute and chronic health effects would be rigorously followed to prevent large scale deaths during disasters.

The guidelines, prepared by a number of experts, specialists and representatives from the nodal Health and Family Welfare Ministry as well as other departments focus on prevention of deaths by preparing integrated disease control programmes.

"We prepared the guidelines after conducting mock exercises at 12 different places in the country," General (retd) N C Vij, Vice Chairman of the NDMA, told reporters. The guidelines also espouse a mechanism for minimum standards of relief and provision for rehabilitation and reconstruction and media management.

"We also need to incorporate community-based practices to develop a resilient community," Lt Gen J R Bharadwaj, member of the NDMA said, adding medical preparedness for mass casualty management will also get a mainstay in the education curricula.



 

Monday, November 12, 2007

UN, Remote Sensing Authority Organizes Workshop on Disaster Management

By: Sudanvisiondaily
The United Nations Office for outer space Affairs and the Remote Sensing Authority will organize a workshop on space-based solutions for Disaster Management and Emergency Response from 9th to 12th December 2007.
The general objective of the United Nations/Sudan International UN-Spider workshop is to increase the awareness of national and regional users of the potential of both new UN-SPIDER programme and of Space-based Solutions for Disaster Management, more specifically, nominated National focal points. Northern and Eastern African and Western Asia will have an opportunity of working together during the workshop to share experiences and knowledge and learn of the potential of space-based solutions to support disaster management activities in their respective countries. Learn how to access and use such solutions and also how to implement national policies and activities to take advantage of such solutions.

For more info log on to  Disaster Awareness


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Nasa Photo

 

Dear All:  

This photo is a very rare one, taken by NASA.  This kind of  event occurs once in 3000 years.

This  photo has done miracles in many lives.     
Make a wish ... you  have looked at the eye of God. Surely you will see the changes in  your
life  within a day.!
Whether  you believe it or not, don't keep this mail with you. Pass this at least  to 7 persons.
This is a picture NASA took with the Hubbell  telescope.
Called "The Eye of God."  
Too  awesome to delete.  
 It is worth  sharing.




During the next  60 seconds, Stop whatever  you are doing, and take this opportunity.
(Literally it is only One  minute!)

Just send  this to people and see what happens. Do not break this,  please.

 

drinking water on empty stomach

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METHOD OF TREATMENT
 
1. As you wake up in the morning
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4. After 15 minutes of breakfast,
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5. Those who are old or sick and
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6. The above method of treatment
will cure diseases of the sick and others can enjoy a healthy
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The following list gives the number
of days of treatment required to cure/control/reduce main diseases:
 
1. High Blood Pressure - 30 
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2. Gastric - 10  days
 
3. Diabetes - 30  days
 
4. Constipation - 10  days
 
5. Cancer - 180 days
 
6. TB - 90  days
 
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It is better if we continue this
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Drink Water and Stay healthy and
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This makes sense .. The Chinese and
Japanese drink hot tea with their meals ..not cold water. Maybe it is time
we adopt their drinking habit while eating!!! Nothing to lose, everything
to gain...
 



For more info and comments blog on   Ways2fitness

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Meet on disaster risk reduction starts today

NEW DELHI: Faced with threats from almost every possible natural hazard, Asia has taken the lead in setting up the global agenda for disaster risk reduction. China hosted the First Asian Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which adopted the 'Beijing Action for Disaster Reduction in Asia'.

The second two-day Asian ministerial conference begins on Wednesday here and will be attended by over 500 delegates from across the world, including ministers, scientists and UN representatives. Disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness has been one of the core areas of concern for Times Foundation , the social arm of the Times Group , is supporting the conference.

A number of regional and international organisations have joined hands with the Union home ministry to collaborate with the conference. These include WHO, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, United Nations Development Programme as well as World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Times Centre for Disaster Management is a joint initiative of Times Foundation and the University of Mumbai. It aspires to be an apex academic institution, which will be responsible for capacity-building in disaster-preparedness by running both short and long term courses and research projects.

Additionally, Centre aims to create infrastructure and facilities, which would facilitate effective response to any major calamity in the future. The centre will offer certificate programmes from January 2008 and a diploma programme in disaster management from the academic year 2008-09. A similar centre is being planned in Hyderabad.

Times Foundation is also collaborating with various leading associates in the area of disaster management like Disaster Management Training Institute, National Civil Defence College, and Department of Atomic Energy of Government of India.

For more info log on to  Disaster Awareness

Thursday, November 1, 2007

UN Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response Opens Office in Bonn | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference - Sent Using Google Toolbar



UN Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response Opens Office in Bonn

PRESS RELEASE
Date Released: Thursday, November 1, 2007
Source: United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs


VIENNA, 31 October (UN Information Service) - The newly established United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), which is implemented by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), has opened its first office in Bonn, Germany, on Monday, 29 October 2007.

"UN-SPIDER will provide universal access to all countries and relevant international and regional organizations to space-based information and services relevant to disaster management to support the full disaster management cycle and will have a considerable impact on the way space-based information is used in dealing with disasters around the world," noted Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, Franz Baumann, in his inauguration speech. The programme, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006, will serve as a gateway to space information for disaster management support, a bridge to connect the disaster management and space communities. UN-Spider will also be a facilitator of capacity-building and institutional strengthening in particular for developing countries.

Besides Vienna, where UNOOSA is located, UN-SPIDER will have offices in Beijing, China and Bonn, Germany, as well as a liaison office in Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Baumann expressed the hope that the UN-SPIDER Office in Bonn will contribute successfully to the mitigation and prevention of natural disasters, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami catastrophe, via satellite-based disaster information and management. He thanked the authorities of Austria, China and Germany for their contributions to making UN-SPIDER become reality.

Alongside the opening of the UN-SPIDER Bonn Office, a three-day workshop is bringing together experts from around the world to discuss and shape the future activities of UN-SPIDER. This workshop is the starting point for a series of regional workshops and expert meetings that will contribute to making space-based information an integral part of disaster management policies worldwide.

* *** *

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting developing countries in using space science and technology.

Located in Vienna, Austria, UNOOSA maintains a website at http://www.unoosa.org .

FW: Cinnamon: For Spice and Good Health

Akbar  Jiwani

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Cinnamon: For Spice and Good Health



 

Monday, October 29, 2007

Focus News update

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FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance

 

 

 

FOCUS News Update
August-September 2007

 

AFGHANISTAN

Reducing disaster risk in Afghan Badakhshan

Through a grant awarded by the European Commission Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO) and with the assistance of the Aga Khan Foundation UK, in September 2007 FOCUS began Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) programmes in the province of Badakhshan, north-eastern Afghanistan.

 

Afghan Badakhshan

With a population of over 820,000 Badakhshan is considered one of the most highly exposed provinces to natural hazards in Afghanistan. Every year dozens of disasters ranging from severe flooding to small-scale earthquakes and avalanches occur in the province resulting in loss of lives, economic losses and destruction of homes and property. This, combined with the remoteness of the province, has increased the vulnerability of communities living and reduced capacity to cope, resist, and recover from the impact of natural disasters. Over the last two years alone, 35 small scale disasters were reported in the province resulting in high casualties and damage to the local economy.

The CBDRM programme will enable FOCUS to establish a grounded disaster risk management programme in partnership with local communities. Initially accessing four districts, the programme's key objectives are to raise awareness of disaster risk, facilitate training of volunteer teams to respond to disasters, undertake assessments, provide an advocacy forum as well as build partnerships and disaster risk management capacity within government institutions.

 

Transporting food to communities in the border districts of Afghan Badakhshan

Collaborating with UN-WFP to ensure food reaches local communities
As autumn began, FOCUS and the UN World Food Programme partnered to ensure close to 1,000 MT of food was able to reach isolated communities living in districts of north-eastern Afghanistan. Accessing the mountainous communities is challenging at the best of times, however FOCUS' expertise, local voluntary capacity and knowledge of the local terrain has ensured that vital supplies are channeled through Kulyab in Tajikistan and transported to Darwaz in the Afghanistan province of Badakhshan. The route is made complex as the only accessible road to Darwaz is across the Tajik-Afghan border and back again at a different crossing.





EUROPE

 

Europe search and rescue team training in Wiltshire, UK

Europe search and rescue team training in Wiltshire, UK

Volunteers continue search and rescue training with RAPID UK
Intensive training with RAPID UK continued into the autumn for Europe's search and rescue team at the Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service Training & Development Centre in Devizes, Wiltshire, UK.  The team of nine are being trained over eighteen months by RAPID UK in core search and rescue skills including survival techniques, navigation, mapping and reconnaissance exercises, as well as team communications. During each 48-hour training weekend, the team set up a base camp and sleep outdoors; they are given basic food rations so as to closely emulate conditions volunteers would endure in a real disaster situation. RAPID UK trainer Dan Cooke said, "It is an honour and a privilege to be involved in such a global community and humanitarian organisation. The high performance level achieved by the volunteers is only possible due to the continuing support of Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service".


INDIA

Equipping children in India to handle disaster situations

 

Equipping children in India to handle disaster situations

Equipping children living in hostels with the skills to handle disaster situations
As part of disaster risk reduction in the community, FOCUS has identified the need to sensitise children to the occurrence of disasters. Children living in age-old schools and hostels are especially vulnerable to such situations and therefore require early training and education. To this end, FOCUS, in collaboration with Aga Khan Education Services' hostel management team has created a 2-phase disaster preparedness programme for implementation in 10 hostels in Gujarat. The first phase raises awareness of possible disaster situations and provides learning on precautionary measures and minimising impact among children, staff and management.  The second phase includes forming a FOCUS Initial Response and Safety Team (FIRST) among the older children in the hostel. They are taught basic skills especially for young people including first aid, fire safety and basic search and rescue. September 2007 saw the completion of phase one in 6 hostels and the establishment of phase two FIRST in 3 hostels.


PAKISTAN


FOCUS Community Response Teams active in Chitral and Northern Areas
FOCUS-trained Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in Pakistan are the backbone of many unreported small-scale responses to emergencies in the region. From evacuating people affected by avalanches to rescuing families from blazing homes, these teams are constantly active, helping to make their own communities increasingly resilient and self-prepared.

 

FOCUS in Pakistan

Skilled community-based emergency response teams in northern Pakistan make their way through the valleys to assist people in need.

During the summer, Bathraith village in Ghizer district of Pakistan's Northern Areas was hit by a mass of debris flow' flooding affected more than a dozen homes and crop fields and injured several people. The local CERT evacuated the injured and homeless to safer areas and utilised local community stockpiles to distribute tents and blankets.

The beginning of autumn brought heavy rainfall and mudflow, affecting the region of Gindai, Mashar. The area CERT identified vulnerable homes and evacuated families to a safer area before their homes were damaged. CERT members also carried out an area assessment for any further losses.

Mr Ghulam Panjwani speaking at the FOCUS Orientation Session on better disaster preparedness at the Gilgit Serena Hotel

 

Mr Ghulam Panjwani speaking at the FOCUS Orientation Session on better disaster preparedness at the Gilgit Serena Hotel

Synergising efforts towards better disaster preparedness in the Northern Areas
FOCUS held an orientation session for the Government of the Northern Areas at Gilgit Serena Hotel, in August 2007. The session was attended by the Chief Secretary of the Northern Areas, the Speaker of the Northern Areas Legislative Council as well as government officials and department heads. Representatives of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies in Pakistan as well as local media also attended the event. Following several FOCUS programme presentations and a question and answer forum, a demonstration of a community emergency response team in action was held at Nulter Nalla. Concluding the session, the Chief Secretary requested FOCUS to lead a regional disaster management task force to combine efforts of the government, AKDN agencies and FOCUS along with other key stakeholders to ensure an effective disaster management strategy in the Northern Areas.


Representing Pakistan at Emergency Disaster Management Seminar, India

Mr. Ghulam Panjwani, Executive Officer of FOCUS Pakistan and the Chief Secretary of the province of Balochistan represented Pakistan at a seminar on Emergency and Disaster Management jointly sponsored by the National Institute of Disaster Management India and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The seminar, attended by government representatives of the South Asian Association for Regional Corporation (SAARC), provided a forum for sharing best practices in emergency disaster management and risk reduction strategies across the SAARC region.

Students from Lahore University complete Internship

Three students from Lahore University of Management Sciences interned at FOCUS' Islamabad office. The students were assigned one-month projects in the Monitoring, Evaluation & Research, Hazard Vulnerability, Capacity & Risk Assessment and the Library and Resource Units. All three students valued the opportunity of witnessing first-hand the scale of disaster preparedness activities by FOCUS across their country.


TAJIKISTAN

Building civic capacity in disaster risk reduction through training and workshops in Tajikistan

 

Building civic capacity in disaster risk reduction through training and workshops in Tajikistan

Enhancing working partnerships with the Government of Tajikistan
Several collaborative initiatives under FOCUS' disaster risk reduction programme in Tajikistan have commenced with the Tajik government. These include:

  • A trainer training workshop held by FOCUS and the Tajik Ministry of Education at the Institute of Professional Development in Dushanbe:
    The workshops aimed to prepare Trainers to conduct basic disaster awareness training in schools across Tajikistan and to ensure the continued inclusion of earthquake safety initiatives in school curricula. This training initiative, funded primarily by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), seeks to build on the region's Central Asia Region Earthquake Safety Initiative (CARESI) projects by improving the ability of schoolchildren to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
  • Training the Government's Committee of Emergency Situations (CoES) at the CoES Training Centre:
    FOCUS will be tutoring CoES staff to train government administrators and will provide educational materials including books, presentations and CDs.
  • Providing capacity building opportunities to the Tajik Governments' Geology Department:
    Under FOCUS' European Commission Disaster Preparedness 2007 – 2008 award, the geology department of the Tajik government (Tajik Geology) and FOCUS will provide mutual capacity building opportunities. FOCUS will share skills and knowledge related to geographic information systems and other tools to support the government's disaster risk reduction activities and Tajik Geology will provide support to FOCUS in physical geological assessments and other services across Tajikistan. As part of this strategic partnership, specialists from the two organisations collaborated in a joint 10-day area vulnerability assessment of Khorog City.

OSCE Ambassadors visit FOCUS projects as part of tour of AKDN activities in Tajikistan
As part of a visit hosted by the AKDN in Tajikistan, ambassadors representing seven countries of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) visited FOCUS' Tishor water channel rehabilitation project and received orientation on operational activities with FOCUS Afghanistan. The visit showcased various AKDN activities in Badakhshan. The group also discussed future activities including continuing to implement community-based disaster risk reduction activities in villages not yet reached, disaster response capacity building as well as building remote hazard assessment and intervention activities in light of climate change and global warming. The seven OSCE represented countries included Lithuania, Italy, Slovakia, France, Sweden, Belgium and Tajikistan.

 

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