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Developing Countries: Natural Disasters

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 23 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what steps the Government has taken to improve the support given to developing countries immediately following natural disasters; (228313)

(2) what steps the Government has taken to encourage other countries to provide emergency service personnel to developing countries immediately after a natural disaster.

The Department for International Development (DFID) gives substantial support to developing countries following natural disasters.

DFID’s natural disaster response has been scrutinised and praised in recent years by Parliament’s International Development and Public Accounts Committees, by the National Audit Office and by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD. We regularly monitor our own humanitarian responses and the partners that we fund, including through field visits to project sites. In the case of major disasters, there is usually an external scrutiny of the overall response. In the case of our Burma response, we are planning to supplement this with a thorough independent evaluation of our own contribution.

DFID works closely with the Governments and other authorities of developing countries affected by natural disasters, both in operational response and through longer term programmes to help those countries with measures to reduce and mitigate disaster risks. Most lives saved in a natural disaster are saved in the immediate few days by family members, local people and local organisations.

We encourage other countries to provide emergency personnel in several ways. We provide both funding and UK experts to the global United Nations Disaster Assessment and Co-ordination (UNDAC) network which sends international teams to disaster zones. We also support the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism for disaster response by providing search and rescue capability and we co-operate with a number of fellow European countries to provide combined response through a network called the International Humanitarian Partnership.