Natural Disasters

ADB, Japan to help countries tap space technology to fight natural disasters

Grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will be used to train government, community officials and volunteers in Armenia, Bangladesh, Fiji, and the Philippines

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 07 April 2015

Many developing countries still lack funds and the expertise to adopt new technologies to send out early warnings about natural disasters (Photo: Asian Development Bank)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan are all set to help developing countries in Asia and the Pacific region tap the latest technology in a bid to help them respond to natural disasters quickly and effectively, a report says.

An US $ 2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), administered by the ADB, will be used to train government and community officials as well as local volunteers in Armenia, Bangladesh, Fiji, and the Philippines to use state-of-the-art space-based technology and sophisticated tools for disaster prevention and planning. These countries will act as pilots for the wider adoption of the technology across the entire region.

JFPR was established in May 2000 to provide grants for projects aimed at poverty reduction and social development activities.

Use of technology in disaster prevention

The use of space technology, including satellite-based systems like the Global Positioning System (GPS,) for responding to natural disasters has grown considerably over the recent years. But many developing countries still lack adequate funds and the expertise to adopt new technologies which can supplement their existing systems of sending out early warnings.

“Countries which are vulnerable to catastrophes need more information-based disaster risk management and response tools to prepare better before disasters strike, and to respond better after earthquakes, floods or typhoons hit,” Yusuke Muraki, infrastructure specialist with ADB’s regional and sustainable development department, said.

“Space-based technology can help these pilot countries improve their resilience in an efficient, sustainable way with reliable and timely disaster-related data.”

How will the project work?

The technical assistance project will train government agencies and local communities in the selected countries to use OpenStreetMap.

It is a community-based digital world mapping platform and mobile phone application which allows collection of information for disaster risk planning. Combining satellite-based hazard maps with existing local government maps of vulnerable areas will help in the identification of potential disaster locations precisely, according to the report.

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