Saarc centres ‘no help’ in time

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

May 17, 2015-

Two Saarc regional centres—Saarc Disaster Management Centre (SDMC) and Saarc Food Bank (SFB)—set up to work during regional crisis failed to respond during Nepal’s Great Earthquake.

The SDMC has aimed to establish regional and national response mechanism, establish and improve search and rescue mechanism and establishing a post-disaster recovery and reconstruction mechanism.

But it could not play a minimal role to address to mitigate the risk and improve response and recovery management at all levels as expected of them, officials here say. Similarly, it also failed to create a regional response mechanism dedicated to disaster preparedness, emergency relief and rehabilitation to ensure immediate response.

 No progress has been made since the centre was established in 2007, said a Foreign Ministry official,adding that four member countries have yet to endorse the charter of the centre which would enable it to come forward with common programmes and operations.

“Saarc is dysfunctional,” said former Foreign Minister Bhek Bahadur Thapa. “It lags far behind in crisis management despite the fact that the region is very much venerable of natural calamities.”

The New Delhi-based centre has two major objectives: to develop and standardise damages, loss and impact assessment methodologies, and relief management procedure and establish a post-disaster recovery and reconstruction mechanism.

Consequently, Saarc member nations made individual pledge to support Nepal in the wake of the devastating earthquake and aftershocks, said the official. “At this moment of crisis, the regional organisation and its specialised agencies could contribute much more effectively.

Similarly, the SFB is not expected to be of much help to Nepal. Established to secure food items during times of crisis in the region, but the member states have yet to come up with a real time solution to extend support through the bank.

Nepal has yet to make an official demand with the bank to cope with the possible food deficit, the ministry official said. The bank will make available required foodstuff as per Nepal’s demand.

Any member state Nepal in need of foodstuff at the time of crisis will have to purchase food at the market price upon taking the consent of other member states through the Saarc Secretariat.

The bank currently has 253,000 tonnes of reserved food in its stock. Nepal has contributed four thousand tons of wheat and rice to the bank.

Published: 18-05-2015 08:46

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