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Jacques de Larosiere Lecture focuses on new approaches to address poverty - FOCUS MOBILISES FOR TSUNAMI DISASTER RELIEF - 2005-01-10

Monday, 2005, January 10

Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS), an agency affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network, has mobilised staff, volunteers and resources to provide humanitarian aid in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India.
Assessment and distribution teams are working in coordination with Government authorities and local relief agencies. FOCUS is supplementing the aid being provided by the Government and other organizations through the distribution of food kits comprising rice, lentils, oil and other nutrients. In addition, non-food items such as blankets, tarpaulins, bed sheets, ground sheets, towels, kitchen utensils and clothing have been distributed to just under 4000 people. FOCUS' local operations in India were instrumental in allowing for the immediate delivery of assistance to those affected.

At the request of the Government of Maharashtra (India), FOCUS donated 170 tents, 200 torches, 800 battery cells, 220 blankets and 20,000 litres of drinking water, which was airlifted by the Government, to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The tents have the capacity to shelter approximately 8000 people.

With funds received from the Canadian Government, FOCUS will be procuring and distributing fishing nets and boat repair kits to help restore livelihoods of the people affected by the disaster. The Canadian Government has announced that it will match donations made by individual Canadians to FOCUS. FOCUS is also acting as a central point to receive donations-in-kind from the general Mumbai population. These items are being packed and sent to the State Relief Commissioner, from where it is dispatched to all areas in India affected by the tsunamis.

An assessment is currently determining the needs of the victims as they relate to emergency relief, health, water and sanitation, shelter and livelihoods. The initial results show that the situation in Andhra Pradesh is improving and that the next phase of assistance should include rehabilitation and reconstruction initiatives. The neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu is still in a critical situation and more humanitarian aid is required. FOCUS will continue to work with the Government and other relief agencies to provide the necessary assistance.

Focus Humanitarian Assistance is an international group of agencies established in Europe, North America and South Asia to complement the provision of emergency relief, principally in the developing world. It helps people in need reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid and facilitates their transition to sustainable, self-reliant, long-term development.

Focus Humanitarian Assistance is affiliated with the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of institutions working to improve opportunities and living conditions, for people of all faiths and origins, in specific regions of the developing world. Underlying the establishment of FOCUS by the Ismaili Muslim community is a history of successful initiatives to assist people struck by natural and man-made disasters in South and Central Asia, and Africa.

* * NOTES * *

Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is an international group of agencies established in Europe, North America, and South and Central Asia that have developed a specialisation in disaster preparedness, mitigation, prevention and disaster response. FOCUS has been active in Tajikistan since 1997 and has played a lead role in designing and implementing a variety of disaster preparedness, mitigation and prevention (PMP) initiatives - ranging from Hazard and Vulnerability Assessments (HVAs) and disaster preparedness training with local communities to risk mitigation against natural hazards and strengthening government capacity (specifically the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Civil Defence's capacity) to respond to emergencies.

FOCUS is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies and institutions that seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities in specific regions of Africa and Asia. Active in over 20 countries, the Network's underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society and its agencies and institutions work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of origin, gender or religion.

The AKDN has since 1993, launched a number of successful initiatives in Central Asia in areas ranging from agrarian reform to education, infrastructure, healthcare, micro-credit, small enterprise development and cultural revitalisation. These include the creation of rural support programmes in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, curriculum development for universities in the region through the Aga Khan Humanities Project, promotion and preservation of musical traditions of the region through the Aga Khan Music Initiative, educational support for students, faculty and university resources for training in a variety of disciplines ranging from English language and Economics to Architecture and Computer-Aided Design. Cultural and social development initiatives have been enhanced by support for health and education sector reform and formal collaboration with the United Nations, five Central Asian republics and Russia in regional drug control programmes. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), in collaboration with other international investors has established the Kyrgyz Investment and Credit Bank, the country's largest commercial bank. Complementing its engagement in the financial services sector, AKFED operates an extensive micro-credit programme in Tajikistan and has just launched, in collaboration with the IFC, the Pamir Energy Company which operates one of the largest power projects in the region.

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