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EU announces new more cost effective and efficient policy to prevent crises from happening

Senbetge, one of the poorest districts of Amhara, a region in Northern Ethiopia. Deforestation, soil depletion and erosion have increased the area’s proneness to droughts and flooding. The Ethiopian Red Cross Society and the Austrian Red Cross, financed by the Austrian Development Agency, are running a 3-year project that aims at building resilience and promoting community action. Photo: Flickr/EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.A new policy on increasing resistance to disaster in developing countries was announced by EuropeAid today (Wednesday).

Commissioner for Development Andris Pilbags said it is time to tackle the causes of crises rather than just responding when they occur.

“This is not only more efficient but also much cheaper. In times of economic hardship, more than ever, we must make sure every euro is spent in the most efficient way; both for the people we support on the ground and for EU taxpayers,” he said.

Announcing the policy along with Commissioner for Humanitarian aid, International Cooperation and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, he said natural disasters can delay or even destroy development work done by the EU.

Ms Georgieva said the effects of disasters are magnified by climate change, demographic growth and urbanization. “If we want our assistance to be effective and cost-efficient, we must not just put a bandage on the wound, we must help find a cure,” she said.

The policy is a ten-step programme including early-warning systems, risk management, support for affected countries to design resilience strategies and partnerships with local insurance industries.

EuropeAid already runs two African programmes along these lines - Supporting Horn of African Resilience (SHARE) and l'Alliance Globale pour l'Initiative Résilience Sahel (AGIR-Sahel). These projects focus on increasing farmers’ income by improving cattle health, distributing seeds or increasing fodder production.

The organisation has found 80 per cent of people requiring aid in famine situations come from the poorest 20 per cent of a population.

These plans echo those of Ireland’s development agency Irish Aid. In the recent annual report, Minister for Development Joe Costello said aid focus and accountability should be central.

“We measure the effectiveness of our programme according to the extent to which we see real improvements in areas such as food security, health, and education in the countries in which we work. Ireland is consistently ranked among the best donor countries in terms of the effectiveness of our aid,” he said.

In 2011, Ireland’s total allocation to the European Union for overseas development assistance was almost €110 million. This included €72 million through the EU Development Cooperation budget, €29 million through the European Development Fund and €8 million to the EU Global Climate Change Alliance according to Irish Aid.

The EU Approach to Resilience: Learning from Food Security Crises – Communication [116 KB] [fr] and Factsheet [2 MB]

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