INASIA

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From China: Increasing Capacity for Disaster Preparedness & Relief Efforts

June 13, 2007

As one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, last year China had more than 400 million people affected and thousands killed by natural disasters. Annual economic losses account for 1-2% percent of GDP. While disaster management systems are well advanced in terms of physical structure and government processes, involvement of the private sector and non-governmental organizations has been limited.

Last week, more than 90 representatives from Chinese government disaster management agencies, Chinese and international enterprises and non-government organizations attended The Asia Foundation’s Private Sector Disaster Management Workshops in Beijing and Shanghai. The workshops launched The Asia Foundation’s two-year project to enhance private sector participation in, and contributions to, community-level disaster preparedness, risk reduction, and relief initiatives.

The project encourages multi-sectoral approaches to disaster management aimed at promoting greater collaboration among government agencies, private enterprises, and local charities and relief organizations. The workshops were designed to raise awareness of disaster preparedness among Chinese and U.S. companies operating in China. Speakers at the launch included an international disaster management expert and representatives from the Public-Private Partnerships for Disaster Management program’s key partners: the Department of Disaster and Social Relief of the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MOCA), the International Department of the Chinese Enterprise Confederation (CEC), and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham).

The project also supports activities in communities in two coastal cities, Qingdao and Ningbo, both of which are frequently affected by natural disasters and have vibrant and growing business communities with the potential to participate in disaster preparedness and relief activities. Private sector workshops will be conducted in these cities, carrying out disaster management training for local charities and community groups, community-based public-awareness campaigns, and vulnerability reduction projects. Next year, the project will also include training workshops in disaster preparedness for the private sector. Ultimately, the project aims to create a collaborative model of community-based preparedness and mitigation initiatives that can be replicated outside immediate project areas.

This effort is being supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Related locations: China

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