Preparing for the Inevitable: Natural Disasters

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By Mansi Desai, Give2Asia Marketing Intern

April 25th, 2015 was a dark day for the people of Nepal. Over 3 million people were rendered homeless, 22,000 were injured, and at least 9,000 were killed in what was one of the deadliest earthquakes to have struck the country. Measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, the earthquake struck about 40 miles away from the capital city, Kathmandu, wrecking entire communities. Along with people's’ livelihoods, Nepal’s cultural sites were also destroyed.

Two and a half years later, communities are still recuperating from the aftermath of this devastating tragedy. Why is it taking this long for the people of Nepal to get back on their feet? The answer is simple. The road to long-term recovery, much like it sounds, is a lengthy process. Obstacles like critical weather conditions (heavy monsoons followed by equally brutal winters bring all construction to a standstill), geographic barriers (the mountainous topography of the region makes it even more difficult to build earthquake resilient structures), and government challenges (corruption and favoritism lead to uneven delivery of aid) have also contributed to the slowdown of recovery in the region.

While each disaster is unique, there are some common lessons to be learned. Working towards rebuilding communities across Nepal has shed light on how best to deal with both recovering from a disaster and preparing for one:

Early Warning Systems: Even today, earthquake early warning systems have been deployed in only a handful of the world’s seismic hot zones. These systems can warn people minutes before the earthquake strikes. Seismologist Peggy Hellweg of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley said, “If Nepal had a seismic network that operated as the seismic stations in Northern California did in the Napa quake, people in Kathmandu would probably have had 15 to 20 seconds warning.” This would have provided residents with enough time to take appropriate cover, or even escape some collapsing buildings.

Building Back Better: The reconstruction of communities will mean nothing if future disaster possibilities aren’t taken into account. “Building back better” looks at the bigger picture:

○ The building codes need to be improved, town planning has to be done at a more superior level, and the community’s infrastructure needs to be strengthened.

○ Decentralized disaster risk reduction planning must be part of the reconstruction and recovery process.

Data Collection/Access to Information: Japan is one of the most prepared countries when it comes to disaster preparedness. However, when the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck, it had a shockingly devastating outcome. Seismologists concluded that it was the lack of information that restricted them from predicting a disaster of this magnitude. In the wake of the earthquake, researchers have been working towards building better earthquake models and forecasting for not only Japan, but also the rest of the world.

Local Community Involvement: According to research, a community that is struck by disaster recovers faster if locals are involved in the restoration process. Nobody knows communities better than their residents, and it is necessary to involve them at every step of the planning and rebuilding process. In fact, a majority of lifesaving work in any disaster is done by the population themselves.

Coordination: The lack of coordination between the government and local authorities, coupled with corruption and favoritism, led to the uneven delivery of aid across the country. Additionally, the national government had pledged that all citizens who lost their homes would receive a subsidy of around $2,000 USD to rebuild. As of April 2016, those funds had not been released. Many have avoided rebuilding even modest shelters for fear of losing eligibility for the subsidy, if and when the government made the funds available.

Immediate Versus Long-Term Relief: Providing immediate relief to the victims of disaster is necessary, but neglecting their long-term shelter needs is a mistake. The damage done by the Nepal earthquake didn’t just stop at infrastructure. People's’ means of making a living was also affected in the process. Recovery of the local economy and livelihoods is the key to long-term relief.

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Since 2015, Give2Asia has been working with local organizations to provide both emergency and long-term relief to victims of the Nepal earthquake. Some of the projects include constructing earthquake-resilient homes for the locals, rebuilding schools and classrooms in several districts, and carrying out earthquake drills and safety-preparedness in schools. Today, Give2Asia is working with Koshish Nepal to seek out persons displaced by the earthquake that suffer from mental health issues and provide them with psychosocial support.

Since 2014, Give2Asia has been a leader in supporting disaster preparedness and resilience by partnering with locally-based organizations that are helping their communities adapt to the growing threat of disasters. Natural disasters are inevitable and we may not be able to prevent them, but we can definitely work towards building a more resilient community, one that emerges from such incidents stronger than ever.

To learn more about Give2Asia’s Disaster Preparedness Program, click here.

 

October 23: China Country Profile Webinar

Philanthropy in China

Give2Asia Country Profile Webinar Series

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Date

USA – Monday, October 23, 2017

China – Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Time

USA West Coast (PST) - 5:00 PM

USA East Coast (EST) - 8:00 PM

China (CST) - 8:00 AM

Registration

To register, please fill out this form. You may submit your topics of interest or questions you would like to discuss. Please register by August 8th, 2017.


How to Participate

Join the webinar by following this link.

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect meeting before, click here to test your connection and click hereto get a quick overview. 

On January 1, 2017, China passed a law that impacts how US-based donors provide support to local NGO’s. In compliance with the new Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Administration of Activities of Overseas Nongovernmental Organizations in the Mainland of China (the ONGO Law), Give2Asia became one of the first philanthropic overseas NGOs to successfully register in China. With a vote of confidence from the Beijing Public Security Bureau, Give2Asia now has the ability to extend the grant making capacity of US-based corporations seeking to support local NGO’s in China.
 
The ONGO Law requires procedural changes to the grant making process in China, as well as increased administrative management. This webinar will provide the following:

  • Background on the ONGO Law
  • Overview of how grant making in China has changed, including details on:
    • Required procedural changes to grant making
    • New administrative management processes
    • Expected annual grant-making timeline
    • Temporary Activity Permission
    • Implications for your giving priorities in China

In order for us to address your queries better during the webinar, please submit your questions when you register. We look forward to your engagement. 

Best Regards,
Give2Asia Team

Give2Asia's webinars feature practitioners and subject experts representing different perspective on the social sector in featured countries. These webinars will provide an opportunity to learn more about the social sector in Asian countries; however, due to the dynamic nature of the region careful due diligence and partnership selection is necessary. 

   

   

Birger Stamperdahl, President and CEO
Xiao Rong, VP China Operations and Country Representative
Give2Asia

Give2Asia makes it possible to support local organizations in Asia addressing critical issues such as healthcare, education, livelihood, and the environment. By building long-term connections between donors and local programs in Asia, Give2Asia fosters trust and accountability on both sides of the relationship. With a team of local staff, advisors and partners in 25 countries in Asia, Give2Asia ensures projects are effective, results are transparent, and grant recipients are accountable. Give2Asia reports on activities to certify that projects meet the needs of the target beneficiaries and the donor, and works to make local charitable organizations more sustainable by expand their sources of funding. Xiao Rong plays a crucial role in providing strategic leadership to Give2Asia’s programs in China. Prior to joining Give2Asia, Rong served as a Research Fellow at the China Academy of Social Sciences, and as an Assistant to China Program Director of The Asia Foundation’s Beijing Office.
 

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Dr. Jia Xijin
Tsinghua University

Ranked as one of the top academic institutions in China and Asia, Tsinghua University is dedicated to academic excellence, the well-being of Chinese society, and global development. The University has 57 departments within 20 schools, which cover a broad range of subjects including medicine, science and social sciences, arts and literature, engineering, and law. At Tsinghua University Ms. Jia Xijin is an Associate Professor of School of Public Policy and Management, and the Vice Dean of Institute of Philanthropy.
 

 

Stepping up for Survivors of the South Asia Floods

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By Birger Stamperdahl, President & CEO, Give2Asia

When over 1,000 people die from seasonal floods in South Asia, it is easy to ask the question “Why were we not better prepared?”  Across India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, the death toll has climbed to an unusually high number over the past 6 weeks, with millions of people displaced.

For both relief and preparedness, working at the local level is a fundamental belief behind Give2Asia’s work and why we fund programs and initiatives from the local leaders who are the most personally committed to the long-term sustainability of the solutions that Give2Asia seeks to support.

Give2Asia is privileged to be supporting Facebook’s effort to reach local, affected communities in response to the South Asia floods: Facebook has made a $1 million commitment to relief in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Their efforts will support Goonj and Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS) in India, BRAC in Bangladesh, and other local projects in Nepal.

Give2Asia is mobilizing its entire donor network at this time and encourages you to join us in support of these communities. Click here to contribute.

Preparing for Annual Monsoons

However, this work needs to be done with the awareness that monsoons in South Asia are an annual event. As we work with local communities, Give2Asia is increasingly looking at preparedness. Give2Asia is now entering the fourth year of a five-year disaster preparedness program focusing on eight countries in South and Southeast Asia, and Nepal and Bangladesh are part of this effort. Please see here to understand the impact of preparedness work in these communities and the challenges building funding partners for ongoing efforts.