Source: unic.org
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The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today launched a cooperative mechanism that will provide drought monitoring and early warning capabilities for the region's countries.

Through the mechanism, countries have committed to providing satellite services for general drought monitoring, higher resolution monitoring for high-risk areas, and early warning of drought events. This will give governments and relevant stakeholders more lead time, so they might act to prevent drought hazards from becoming major disasters.

In addition, “the mechanism will form one major tool to provide information links and activate provisions of space-based products, soon after a major disaster strikes,” said Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

The mechanism was put into service at the conclusion of a three-day meeting in Nanjing, China, attended by more than 50 officials from 15 countries, as well as five international organizations, and with the cooperation of China, India, the Republic of Korea and Thailand.

Through a statement read out on her behalf by Zengpei Xuan, ESCAP's Director of the Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division, Ms. Heyzer said the mechanism will also provide a one-stop information portal. It will enable states to draw on technical services, as well as technical support for the social and economic aspects of disaster risk-reduction.

ESCAP has also begun exploring how the modalities established for the drought mechanism can be extended to other disaster types, starting with floods.

Of all the people in the world that were killed by disasters in 2008, more than 96 per cent were from the Asia-Pacific. For the past 30 years, droughts were second only to floods in terms of their devastation worldwide – affecting 1.3 billion people and causing $53 billion in losses.