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Yangon, 20 Jun 12

School children collects water from a tank in Myanmar ©UN-Habitat/Veronica Wijaya

UN-HABITAT and Myanmar have signed a new agreement on disaster risk management designed to help the country shore itself up better against disasters such as cyclones which have claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced countless more people in recent years.

The Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, represented by the Department of Relief and Resettlement of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement signed a milestone Memorandum of Understanding with the agency 8 June 2012 in Nay Pyi Taw for the delivery of th Myanmar Comprehensive Disaster Risk Reduction Programme . The programme is designed to support key national priorities to promote disaster resilience in Myanmar.

In a speech at the signing ceremony, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, U Phone Swe, cited President U Thein Sein on the government's reform agenda which will formalise a central committee for the management of international assistance to enhance coordination and address gaps and needs in the service the people of Myanmar.

The Deputy Minister said he hoped that such mechanisms of cooperation supplemented by partnerships with the international agencies like UN-Habitat will smoothen and expedite emergency response and recovery measures as well as prevention measures.

"I look forward to receiving your humanitarian assistance on a real time basis and your active cooperation on disaster prevention activities both for harmonious delivery of structural and non structural measures," he said.

Mr. Srinivasa Popuri, the UN-Habitat Country Manager in Myanmar said the Myanmar Comprehensive Disaster Risk Reduction Programme would support many of the high priority initiatives listed in the Myanmar Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction. Key elements cover Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change issues through (1)Public Education and Awareness; (2)Training and Capacity Building; (3)Disaster Management Response; and Preparedness Plan's at various levels; (4)Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into sectoral development; (5)Support to policy and mainstreaming (6)Hazard and risk assessment.

The agreement formalises UN-Habitat's on-going assistance in disaster risk reduction in Myanmar. It was signed by Mr. Srinivasa and U Soe Aung, Director General Relief and Resettlement.

UN-Habitat's engagement with Myanmar began in the 1980s and 1990's as the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements where the agency supported urban issues, city and regional planning as well as capacity building. In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, UN-Habitat has been closely with various bodies in Myanmar thanks to key support from Norway.

In addition to key sectors of cooperation with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, UN-Habitat is also cooperating with relevant ministries in other sectors pertaining to the Habitat Agenda such as urban and regional development, water and sanitation and basic infrastructure, housing, land and the environment.

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