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| Last Updated:23/05/2020

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World Bank, UK to help poor nations hit by natural disasters

SENDAI: Some good news for the developing countries. The World Bank and the UK government has jointly launched a new competitive challenge fund that would help poor nations -- those hit by disasters like floods, cyclones, droughts and earthquakes -- to empower their local communities.

The fund, launched on Monday on the sidelines of UN's 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction at Sendai, will help developing countries design and implement ground-breaking solutions to overcome problems they face assessing disaster risks.

"Finding new ways to use technological innovation to empower communities to build their own solutions to the risk of disasters has proven effective from Nepal to New Orleans," said Rachel Kyte, World Bank group vice-president and special envoy for Climate change. The fund is launched by World Bank's Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery with the UK government.

The new fund will help spur new and inventive approaches and partnerships so that the developing countries can better gauge disaster risks, he said. In its first phase the Challenge Fund will provide between $20,000 and $150,000 to up to 20 projects.

The experience in last decade shows frequency of natural disasters have increased two-fold, compared to what it was 30 years ago with the annual economic losses rising from $50 billion to almost $200 billion. "To limit the human and financial cost, it is vital that countries understand the risks and how to reduce the impact of natural disasters on individuals, communities, and governments," a GFDRR and World Bank press note said.

"World-class innovations and data tools can save lives but global investment in these new technologies remains far too low and is not keeping pace with the growing risk countries face."

The Challenge Fund aims to help decision makers in developing countries to make the best use of technology and data through new approaches and innovative partnerships between technology companies, NGOs and those at risk from natural disasters.

With the new Fund grant organizations will be able to build capacity and respond to DRR challenges. It will help them access high resolution digital models of an area's train and elevation; identify and collect missing data that undermines countries' ability to understand the risks they face; develop new approaches to modeling risk; and initiatives to communicating risk to different stakeholders.

The GFDRR helps high-risk, low-income developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerabilities to natural hazards, and adapt to climate change. It is working with over 400 partners-mostly local government agencies, civil society, and technical organizations. GFDRR is managed by the World Bank and funded by 25 donor partners.