Department for International Development
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Ashdown Review: UK Government must be prepared for increase in natural disasters and emergencies

The UK must strengthen the way it responds to international emergencies if it is to cope with a predicted rise in the number of disasters caused by earthquakes, floods and conflict, Lord Ashdown warned today, as part of an independent review into the UK’s humanitarian response system.

The review sets out 40 key recommendations aimed at overhauling the way that the UK responds to emergencies.

The recommendations range from high-level policy reforms through to practical measures designed to improve operations on the ground.

These include better anticipation of disasters, with a global ‘risk register’, and greater co-ordination of scientific research, alongside measures to make high-risk countries more resilient to shocks, with UK aid programmes doing more to put in place more effective hazard reduction and contingency plans.

Lord Ashdown also states that there must be better international leadership in humanitarian emergencies setting out that “for too long the performance of the international humanitarian system has been inconsistent and far less than the sum of its parts”. Currently, the UN has responsibility for co-ordinating any response to international emergencies, co-ordinating the efforts of countries and other agencies.

Presenting the Review, Lord Ashdown said:

“The people of the United Kingdom know why we respond, individually and as a society, to humanitarian emergencies around the world. What is crucial is that when we decide to act, we do so effectively.

This review has revealed that we should be proud of how we, as a nation, respond. But being good is not going to be good enough if we are to meet the challenges ahead.”

We must devise new ways to meet the tests we will face in future. I hope that this report will enable the UK Government to do that and continue to take the lead internationally in preparing for emergencies yet to come. The stakes could not be higher.”

It is predicted that by 2015 around 375 million people will be affected by climate related disasters every year, while other rapid onset emergencies and the impact of conflict will affect many more.  Last year, 263 million people were devastated by disasters – 110 million more than in 2004, the year of the Tsunami.

Lord Ashdown presents the results of his independent review, which will make recommendations to Andrew Mitchell, DFID’s Secretary of State, as to how the UK government should best respond to humanitarian emergencies, on Monday 28 March.

Notes for editors:

The UK public has a history of responding generously to support those in desperate need after disaster strikes. And the UK government is one of the top three humanitarian donors in the world.

Over the last seven months Lord Ashdown has chaired a task force of leading experts to review all aspects of how the UK government responds to humanitarian disasters and emergencies.

Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, commissioned the review to help make sure that DFID continues to meet public expectations to deliver maximum benefit to those affected while getting value for money for the UK taxpayer.

The full report will be available online at:   from 11am, Monday 28 March.

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