"We cannot stop disasters from happening but we can prevent them from killing more people”, Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response (ECHO), declared during a press conference for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management held at Diamond Hotel, Manila on June 5 2014.
As part of a visit to Tacloban, the area affected by typhoon Hayian in November 2013, Commissioner Georgieva met with Efrath Silver, Arnoud Keizer, Monika Beutel and Benjamin Konig - VSO’s EU Aid Volunteers who are taking part in DG ECHO’s pilot Volunteers initiative.
The EU Aid Volunteers and the Commissioner discussed the work on disaster resilience in the Philippines and Commissioner Georgieva talked about how impressed she was with the way people have coped following typhoon Haiyan. She stressed the role of national and local government as well as strong civil society organisations that have helped the affected communities move quickly from disaster relief to rehabilitation and recovery. She also emphasised the strength of local volunteerism and the role volunteering has played in ensuring a rapid process of rebuilding.
The VSO EU Aid volunteers explained their work with Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) and the DREAM Programme (Disaster Risk Exposure Assessment for Mitigation) of the Department of Science and Technology, which is part of the EUAV Programme on Resilience Building. The volunteers outlined how they are engaging in capacity building by working with the management and technical staff of NOAH-DREAM Programme on Flood Modelling, Project Management, Information Technology and Institutional Development.
Speaking to the volunteers in Manila, Commissioner Georgieva said she was impressed by their contribution to disaster preparedness and mitigation.
“Every dollar, euro or peso spent on disaster preparation is returned seven-fold if the disaster is avoided or mitigated “she told them.
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L to R: Efrath Silver, Arnoud Keizer, Commissioner Georgieva, Monika Beutel