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We can prepare better for disasters: Commissioner Georgieva returns to the Philippines

Photo Credit: Pio Arce/Genesis Photos - World Vision
05/06/2014

"My visit to Tacloban has been a stark reminder of the devastation which hit the Philippines last November. Seven months on, the need for assistance remains, but I am encouraged to see people rebuilding their homes, replanting their fields, or reopening their businesses," said Commissioner Georgieva. "Nature is a truly awesome force and it’s inevitable that some mega-disasters like Haiyan are beyond our power to prevent. But we can do a lot to reduce the magnitude of their consequences by addressing climate change and through better preparation."

Amongst the many tragic disasters that have affected the world in recent years, the 2013 typhoon Haiyan, the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China are amongst the most vibrant reminders of the need and importance of reinforcing cooperation in disaster management. Recent devastating floods in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina underscored that Europe also faces challenges in coping with disaster.

In addition to humanitarian assistance deployed in the immediate aftermath of Haiyan, the European Commission carries out disaster preparedness programmes (DIPECHO) in Asia and other areas of the world prone to recurrent catastrophes. DIPECHO aims to increase the capacities of the local populations to face disaster consequences.

The Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM) on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Manila from 4 to 6 June 2014 will highlight lessons learned and best practices in disaster risk reduction and management based on the experience of Haiyan and other mega-disasters. The "Tacloban Declaration" will be endorsed by the participants and contribute to the post-2015 international framework on Disaster Risk Reduction to be adopted in March next year.

Background

Typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda) was the strongest cyclone ever recorded. It struck the Philippines on 8 November 2013, causing massive devastation in the central regions. Over 6 200 people have been officially reported dead, more than a thousand are missing, four million were displaced and 14-16 million affected, out of which 6 million were children.

The humanitarian assistance provided by the European Commission to the survivors amounts to around € 30 million (ca. PHP 2 billion). This contribution has made a difference for around 1.2 million people. The overall EU's humanitarian assistance for Haiyan, including the funding coming from the Member States, amounts to over € 180 million (ca. PHP 11 billion).

In addition, since 1998, € 7.7 million have been released by the European Commission to the Philippines for disaster preparedness measures (DIPECHO).