Central Asia to benefit from Euro cash

The European Commission has allocated €3.5 million for work to help prepare for and prevent disasters in central Asia.

The aid package will allow the continuation of work in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

It will primarily fund small-scale projects to improve infrastructure and community's ability to predict, respond to and cope with natural disasters.

The region is particularly vulnerable to flooding, landslides, earthquakes, mudlslides and avalanches.

The work will focus on areas believed to be at the most risk and will include teaching people how to identify hazards and develop local disaster management plans accordingly, establishing early warning systems, training and equipping rapid response teams as well as search and rescue and medical teams.

It will also fund work adapting building techniques to particular environmental risks, conducting disaster simulations, improving radio communication systems in remote areas, developing database tools and systems and conducting public disaster-awareness campaigns.

The funding is part of the EU's global Disaster Preparedness ECHO (DIPECHO) programme which has provided €78 million to a total of 319 projects worldwide since its introduction in 1996.

Globally, over 300 million people are affected by natural disasters every year

Developing countries bear the bulk of the burden in terms of lives and livelihoods lost.

According to EC figures disasters reduce the economic output of the poorest nations by around 3%, depriving them of resources needed to escape poverty.

The poorest communities are usually hurt most, because they tend to live in greater density in badly-built housing on land at risk.

An estimated 97% of natural disaster-related deaths occur in developing countries.

By Sam Bond



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