Post-Disaster Emergency Response in South Asia

March 17, 2019
Challenge In recent years, South Asia has experienced frequent natural and human-caused crises. Sustained heavy rainfall in 2017 resulted in one of the worst floods that Nepal and Bangladesh have experienced. More than 8 million people were affected and many families lost their homes, belongings and livelihoods. Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, located along the porous Pak-Afghan border, have also been affected by militancy and military operations for over a decade. In addition, the influx of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar has posed many challenges in Bangladesh. These crises require urgent relief efforts. The challenge is to ensure that recovery assistance is made rapidly available to the disaster-affected people and has long-lasting impacts, helping affected individuals to rebuild their communities, restoring their livelihoods and strengthening their capacities to achieve resilient and sustainable development in the future. Towards a Solution In recognition of the above challenge and the importance of ensuring rapid and effective recovery, the Government of China partnered with UNDP to provide financial assistance totalling USD 12 million to Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan through the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund. The overarching goal was to provide immediate support by distributing relief materials to meet the needs of the disaster-affected people, ensure their health and well-being, and help them rebuild their lives. The cooperation ensured that affected households obtained dignified emergency shelter and household packages and essential non-food materials in the selected districts. It also provided furniture and supplies to local schools and prevented women and girls from experiencing adverse health and safety hazards. In Bangladesh, a joint response plan focused on meeting the needs of 330,000 people in the six most affected districts. In selecting beneficiaries, preference was given to disadvantaged female-headed households. Community residents actively participated in opinion polling sessions in a series of group discussion to verify the wealth/poverty status of primary beneficiaries and helped the project select the most vulnerable individuals as the project’s main beneficiary. UNDP led UNFPA and six organizations in implementing the project. In Nepal, the southern Terai region was hit hard by the flood. UNDP used a competitive bidding process for micro-capital grants and selected seven NGO partners, one for each district. NGO partners worked closely with District Disaster Response Committees (DDRC) in all districts to obtain data on flood-affected households and select municipalities to provide support. UNDP also worked in close coordination with District Disaster Risk Committees and local governments. The project used available data from sources including, primarily, DDRCs, police and district Red Cross agencies, as well as selected municipality and ward representatives. Each beneficiary household’s details were collected using the mobile-based applications and individual profiles were created for each of the households. UNDP implemented this project in close partnership with the Government of Nepal’s Flood Recovery Project/National Reconstruction Authority. The chief of the flood recovery project was actively involved in defining household selection criteria, coordination and facilitation with district-level agencies. At the  district level, UNDP partnered with District Disaster Response Committees, elected local governments and civil society. DDRC supported the identification of priority areas and the creation of a database of affected households. DDRC also facilitated coordination with local governments and other development partners to avoid duplication and ensure greater synergy. And, furthermore, UNDP partnered with civil society for ground operations and coordination with local governments. In Pakistan, UNDP convened an advisory committee meeting comprising of the (federal) Economic Affairs Division, the Education Department, the Government of Balochistan and the FATA Disaster Management Authority to agree on the composition of and standards for assistance packages and coordination mechanisms to deliver assistance. The beneficiaries were selected using vulnerability criteria that prioritized households that are widow-headed, have disabled or chronically-ill family members, or are otherwise poor. Families were selected through a participatory process led by the FATA Disaster Management Authority that involved local communities, government agencies and the military. Across the three countries, a total of 617,826 people received assistance from China, UNDP and national governments to rebuild their lives. In Bangladesh, 13,910 households received and are benefiting from emergency shelter and household packages targeting 69,550 beneficiaries. The health and dignity of 13,750 women and girls were protected and restored, and 125 health workers received emergency health response kits targeting 45,000 beneficiaries. Critical emergency support was also provided to the Rohingya community in Cox’s Bazar and 118,000 woman and girl refugees received health care and medical support. In Nepal, 31,800 households received non-food packages. A total of 248,776 people benefitted from the project (48.33 per cent women). In Pakistan, 7,000 recently returned families of FATA, having been displaced due to the crisis of the region, received supplementary emergency food assistance, essential emergency household items packages and shelter restoration kits. Three hundred and seventy-five schools, benefiting 18,750 children in Balochistan, received emergency assistance in the form of school furniture. The project in Nepal introduced an innovative app- based monitoring system to monitor project progress in real time. This innovation was made possible through collaboration with Microsoft Nepal, where each beneficiary household was provided with QR cards. Details of beneficiary households were recorded to create profiles and information was synchronized in centralized databases. This provided an opportunity to monitor real-time progress and determine where support was needed. It also encouraged the implementing partner organizations to accelerate the pace of profile creation and distribution of relief packages. On the policy level, UNDP organized a workshop to share the projects’ results and provide developing countries with a platform for exchanging knowledge and gaining expertise and technology from China’s experience in disaster recovery. One hundred and fifty participants, including government officials from 10 countries, global experts in the area of disaster recovery, foreign missions and international organizations in Beijing, and officials from Chinese institutions attended the workshop on South-South cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative: China’s South-South Assistance to Disaster Recovery Efforts. One of the most important components of recovery assistance is time sensitivity because recovery support must be delivered to local people as quickly as possible. This requires proactive planning, coordination and implementation with the help of the national government, local governments, civil society and humanitarian stakeholders. Consequently, timely coordination with the relevant stakeholders is crucial for replication. Sustainable Development Goal target(s): 1.5, 3. 8, 3.9, 4.a, 5.6, 11.5, 11.7 Countries / territories involved: Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan Supported by: China Implementing entities: UNDP and respective governments Project status: Completed Project period: November 2017 – March 2018 URL of the practice: Contact:
  • Mr. Arif Abdullah Khan, UNDP Bangladesh, arif.abdullah@
  • Mr. Dharma Swarnakar, UNDP Nepal, dharma swarnakar@
  • Mr. Aadil Mansoor, UNDP Pakistan, aadil.mansoor@
  • Ms. Yating Zhao, UNDP China,