WFP Emergency preparedness and response in Bhutan, March 2024

Preview of WFP-0000157823.pdf

Bhutan is located in one of the most seismically active zones in the world. The country is also highly prone to floods, forest fires, landslides, urban fires, and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). The risks imposed by these hazards are intensified by the climate crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic added to the risks, challenging the sustainability of development gains made so far.

Focus and partners

WFP Bhutan’s country strategic plan (2024-2028) identifies enhancing resilience to natural disasters and climate crisis as a key focus area.
To develop stronger national resilience to disasters and the climate crisis, WFP supports the Royal Government of Bhutan’s emergency preparedness and response (EPR) initiatives in governance and coordination, data preparedness, logistics, emergency telecommunications, and food and nutrition security, in collaboration with frontline agencies like the Department of Local Governance and Disaster Management (DLGDM), De-Suung (national service volunteers) and the Royal Bhutan Police.

Governance and coordination

WFP, in collaboration with DLGDM, updated the disaster management contingency plans at national and district levels and organized disaster simulation exercises. The simulation exercises helped identify gaps, strengthen contingency plan implementation and enhance the capacity of first responders. WFP support to DLGDM has standardized incident reporting form, which will mitigate duplication and errors and contribute to an effective emergency response.

To strengthen governance and coordination, WFP has supported the De-Suung to establish four strategic emergency coordination hubs in Thimphu. The hubs will serve as coordination centres and food distribution points during emergencies. WFP has also supported the De-Suung to develop an EPR strategy, which outlines a roadmap for effective emergency response for the agency. In late 2023, WFP, in partnership with UNDP and the global logistics company DHL, initiated a Getting Airports Ready for Disasters programme for Paro International Airport. The initiative will equip the airport for disaster relief surges during a disaster event by enhancing the capacity of national authorities such as the Department of Air Transport and Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority.

72-hour rapid assessment approach

WFP established a digital vulnerability database as part of its support to the Government in implementing a 72-hour rapid assessment approach. The database, which has critical information on demographics, poverty, food insecurity, building typology, access to roads and drinking water, and household literacy, will help estimate the likely impact of a disaster and enable a response within 72 hours. The 72-hour approach offers a basis to make operational decisions, even in complex situations with up-to-date information. A rapid assessment form will be used as part of the approach.

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