New Delhi – Twenty-one countries agreed to develop a financial mechanism for the sustainability of the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) at the First RIMES Ministerial Conference, held in New Delhi this week.
Member States and collaborating countries approved a plan of action for sustaining the delivery of RIMES products and services that aim to increase capacity for dealing with natural hazards and extreme weather events. RIMES, an intergovernmental institution, evolved with support from ESCAP through efforts in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to establish a regional system which would generate and communicate early warning information, and enhance the capacity of countries to mitigate transboundary hazards.
“RIMES sustainability is important because early warning and weather information saves lives. It can improve livelihoods and make all sectors of society more productive. ESCAP is proud to have contributed to the establishment of this innovative institutional regional resource,” said Dr. Nagesh Kumar, Director of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia and ESCAP Chief Economist, in his opening remarks to the conference.
The ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disasters and Climate Preparedness, established with a contribution of US$10 million from Thailand and US$ 2.5 million from Sweden in 2006, supported the establishment of the RIMES through the Asia Disaster Preparedness Centre. Additional support has been received from Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines and Turkey. To date, the Fund has supported a total of six projects related to RIMES, totaling US$6 million.
Most RIMES members require support in several aspects of actionable early warning. In articulating the members needs and priorities in these areas, the RIMES Master Plan has determined that implementation of the 5-year plan would require about US$ 64 million in funding.
H.E. Mr. Vilas Rao Deshmukh, India’s Minister of Earth Sciences, Science & Technology and Planning, signaled the continued support to the institutional development of RIMES, and resources for RIMES to meet the needs and demands of member States. “We all should target to ensure through the RIMES Platform that disaster resilient communities should possess the capacity to take requisite risk management, mitigation and preparedness actions to withstand extreme natural or human induced hazards,” he said.
The Government of Bangladesh announced a US$4 million contribution to RIMES from its Climate Resilience Fund for an innovative programme to upgrade early warning systems. “RIMES is uniquely placed to leverage resources from all members. With technical support, Bangladesh will upgrade its early warning system for the benefit of vulnerable communities,” said H.E. Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Bangladesh’s Minister of Food and Disaster Management.
To date, a total of 13 countries have signed cooperation agreements with RIMES: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Comoros, India, Lao PDR, Maldives, Mongolia, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste; another 17 others are in various stages of agreement consideration and approval.
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