10 Apr : Multilateral lending agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said it will set up a fund to provide financial aid to developing member countries (DMCs) hit by natural disasters.
"The ADB Board of Directors approved the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Disaster Response Fund (APDRF), which will provide grants of up to USD 3 million (about Rs 15 crore) to help DMCs meet the immediate costs of restoring life-saving services," it said in a statement on Wednesday.
It added that the financial assistance will bridge the gap between existing ADB emergency loans and grants.
"ADB has an existing emergency assistance loan that is designed for longer term reconstruction and rehabilitation. While this mechanism allows for quick fund disbursement, it still takes at least 12 weeks before funds can be made available to affected DMCs," it said.
ADB will also accept a minimum USD 5,00,000 (about Rs 2.5 crore) contribution for APDRF from bilateral, multilateral and individual sources, it added.
The size of the grant extended by APDRF will depend on the extent of the disaster, it added.An initial USD 40 million (about Rs 200 crore) will be transferred from the Asian Tsunami Fund to establish APDRF, it said.
The tsunami fund was set up by ADB in February 2005 in response to the pressing needs of DMCs adversely affected by the December 2004 tsunami. Asian Tsunami Fund contributors have approved the transfer to the new fund.
ADB added the Asia and Pacific region is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of natural disasters."In 2008, out of the top 10 countries worldwide with the highest number of disaster-related deaths, nine were in Asia," it added.
APDRF assistance will be extended after three conditions are met – a natural disaster has occurred, a statement of national emergency has been officially declared by the affected DMC and the United Nations humanitarian or resident coordinator has confirmed the scale and implications of the disaster.