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Development Account Projects

Strengthening information and communications technology capacities for disaster risk reduction and development: addressing information, knowledge and policy gaps in Asia

Background:

Recent natural disasters, notably the devastating floods in Pakistan and the earthquake in New Zealand, remind us that Asia and the Pacific remains the most hazard-prone region in the world, accounting for about 90 per cent of lives lost owing to disasters, with the poor being disproportionately affected. Although many natural hazards cannot be stopped, risk of disaster can be reduced. In this context, the introduction and mainstreaming of information and communications technology (ICT) at various stages of disaster management has proven to be an indispensable tool in reducing disaster risk and in promoting early recovery from disasters. Such measures could range from ICT-enabled early warning to emergency communications.
Yet, ICT capabilities, institutional and individual capacities and governance remain limited at the national disaster management agencies of ESCAP member countries that are tasked with coordinating various sectoral ministries in disaster risk reduction. With disaster risks set to continue to rise, there is an acute need for improved availability of information and analytical capabilities in assessing socio-economic implications of disaster mitigation and preparedness, and in coordinating various sectoral ministries for timely actions so that more targeted and supportive information and communications technology policies could evolve.
Against this scenario, ESCAP decided to add disaster risk reduction to its work programme and established the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction so as to contribute to the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, adopted by the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2005. In 2010, ICT for disaster risk reduction was made a priority work focus, following recommendations on the work of the secretariat by the first session of the Committee in 2009.
The project draws on ESCAP experience as the regional intergovernmental organization with the widest geographic coverage in Asia and the Pacific. It builds on the experiences and lessons learned from work on disaster risk preparedness, such as ESCAP collaboration with subregional organizations and United Nations regional offices to facilitate collaboration with disaster communities and networks. In addition, it builds on results expected from the ongoing seventh tranche Development Account project “Improving disaster risk preparedness in the ESCAP region” being implemented by ESCAP.

Objective:

To promote applications of information and communications technology and to enhance regional cooperation for improved disaster risk reduction and management, as well as for improved management of the associated socio-economic risks, for inclusive and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific

Expected accomplishments:

  • Improved knowledge and capacity of policymakers to develop policies and strategies for applications of ICT and disaster risk reduction and inclusive development in ESCAP member countries
  • Increased sharing among policymakers of knowledge on effective strategies and policy options for ICT connectivity and disaster risk reduction
  • Improved institutional capacity of policymakers to use ICT for socio-economic development

Implementation status:

In progress.