Pakistan News

UN humanitarian response facility in Lahore

UN humanitarian response facility in Lahore

LAHORE: The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) and the Punjab Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) inaugurated the fourth humanitarian response facility -- the first in Lahore -- on Thursday.

Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Maj-Gen Asghar Nawaz, chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Lola Castro, WFP representative in Pakistan jointly opened the facility.

The WFP and the Pakistan government have been working together since 2013 to establish a network of humanitarian hubs in eight strategic locations across the country as part of broader emergency preparedness activities. These relief hubs will allow both the government and the rest of the humanitarian community to respond swiftly and efficiently to emergencies.

The first facility was inaugurated in Quetta in 2013 and the second in Muzaffargarh in February last.

With Australia’s support, the WFP is developing a network of eight HRF’s at strategic locations across Pakistan to augment the emergency and disaster response capacity of the government and the international humanitarian community in Pakistan. The opening of this HRF is timely given proximity to the 2015 monsoon season.

During the inauguration, Minister Bishop announced an additional AUD $3 million in humanitarian assistance to be delivered in partnership with the WFP and AUD $1million to support a WFP initiative to provide policy-level support to improve fortification and ultimately nutrition across Pakistan.

Strengthening disaster preparedness and response capacity is a priority for the NDMA and has been included in Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Plan. Erratic weather patterns linked to climate change have made the country vulnerable to increasingly intense natural disasters, including floods and droughts.

“Preparation is key when responding to disasters – and a strategic relief hub equipped with all the necessary equipment is a very tangible example of emergency preparedness. Just in recent days we’ve seen the value of a very similar response facility in Nepal, where a logistics hub at Kathmandu airport is helping the WFP and the whole humanitarian community reached earthquake survivors with life-saving assistance,” said Castro.

“In Pakistan, it is the priority of both the government and WFP to ensure that we have all the skills and tools we need to save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies, and WFP is proud to partner with the government on this important initiative.”

The $3 million state-of-the-art response facility in Lahore covers more than 28,600 square meters and features four large warehouses for general cargo and two smaller, climate-controlled warehouses for more sensitive items such as medicines and ready-to-use foods, as well as office space and staff facilities.

The Pakistan government has provided land to the WFP to build eight humanitarian facilities in the country’s most disaster-prone areas. The government is responsible for the management and staffing of the facilities. The WFP provides training to staff in managing the facilities, as well as in humanitarian supply chain and emergency response.

The project is being implemented in coordination with the national and provincial disaster management authorities, with generous funding provided by Japan, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Denmark and the USA.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2015

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