By Thin Lei Win
BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A $100 million fund launched on Tuesday aims to make people in disaster-prone regions of Asia and Africa better able to cope with natural disasters and crises, so that they can get their lives and economies back on track more quickly and effectively.
The Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) set up by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Rockefeller Foundation will focus on South and Southeast Asia, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, where typhoons, floods, earthquakes and drought destroy lives and jobs and hamper development.
Scientists say climate change could bring more frequent and more intense weather-related disasters. If communities become more resilient, disaster recovery and relief efforts will cost less, and people will be able to reduce the disruption to lives and jobs and avoid falling into destitution.
“Both USAID and the Rockefeller Foundation see resilience as a vital framework to help alleviate poverty, promote more sustainable development and lessen the impacts of disasters,” said Michael Yates, director of the USAID regional mission in Asia.
The GRP’s first project is the Global Resilience Design Challenge, a multi-phase competition to be launched in September at the USAID Frontiers in Development Forum in Washington, D.C.
Multi-sector teams and organizations need to submit proposals by November on how to make communities in the three focus regions more resilient to disasters, food insecurity and the effects of climate change. Teams going through to the next round will be announced in January.
It is not yet clear how many winners there will be, but USAID and the Rockefeller Foundation say the best teams will receive funding to put their ideas into action.
“It’s going to be a competitive process and we’re very anxious to bring in ideas that are innovative and creative and have strong likelihood for scale-up,” said Yates.
SHOCKS GETTING WORSE
The two organizations say $100 million is just an initial investment and they are talking to groups from both private and development sectors who may put in more funds or provide technical support.
In addition to the Resilience Challenge, the GRP will look at developing flexible financing, predictive analytics and technologies such as crowd-sourced data collection, vulnerability and crisis mapping, and early warning systems.
“In Bangladesh, rising sea levels threaten to drown one-fifth of the country’s land mass where 18 million people now reside. In Nepal, over 2 million people live on potentially hazardous fault lines,” said Yates.
“According to the World Bank, $1 out of every $3 in development funding is lost as a result of recurring crises, and over the last 30 years that has added up to a total of $3.8 trillion,” he added.
Ashvin Dayal, the Rockefeller Foundation’s associate vice president and managing director in Asia, said the Fund hoped to better integrate humanitarian and development approaches, encourage cross-sector collaboration, and involve new partners such as the private sector in efforts to make communities more resilient.
“We face a new reality where disasters and shocks are coming faster and harder, throwing vulnerable populations into crisis year after year,” he said.
“The work of USAID and (Rockefeller Foundation) in some of the world’s most vulnerable regions shows that building resilience reduces the likelihood that stresses or sudden disruptions turn into a disaster,” he added.
(Reporting by Thin Lei Win, editing by Tim Pearce; Phone +44 207 542 2299; Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, covers underreported humanitarian, human rights, corruption and climate change issues. Visit www.trust.org)