ASEAN to build disaster-responsive social protection programmes

fao women 6The initiative aims to secure women’s rights through flexible social protection programmes. (Image source: United Nations Photo/Flickr)Three ASEAN sectoral bodies – social welfare development, disaster management and health, together with Specialised Agencies of the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), other partners and civil society groups have announced the planned development of ASEAN Guidelines on Disaster Responsive Social Protection

A joint initiative between ASEAN, ADB and UN agencies, led by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and with support from the government of Canada and the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the ASEAN Guidelines aim to enhance capacity of ASEAN member states to design and implement social protection programmes that can also deliver disaster response and help vulnerable households build resilience to shocks and stresses.

“This initiative supports two important frameworks of the ASEAN – the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme and the ASEAN Declaration and Regional Framework to strengthen social protection,” said Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, ASEAN deputy secretary general for its socio-cultural community that champions a strong cross-sectoral collaboration within ASEAN in implementing the initiative.

Ayesha Rekhi, a counsellor from the Canadian Embassy in Thailand, and Canada’s Permanent Observer to the UN’s economic and social commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok welcomed the ASEAN and UN initiative.

She particularly noted the strong focus on inclusiveness, gender equality and targeting the poorest and most vulnerable and emphasized that disasters have long-lasting impacts on households that are not always reported, such as disruption of income as well as challenges in meeting their basic food and nutrition needs.

“The EU has been supporting both humanitarian actions and disaster risks reduction, especially community-based DRR for decades in the region. We understand this challenge and thus are pleased to see the political commitments from ASEAN to look at social protection as a sustainable solution for this challenge,” commented Taheeni Thammannagoda, head of the ECHO regional office for Asia and the Pacific.

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