The United Nations food agency today opened in Cambodia its first-ever supply base that will enable it to dispatch, within hours of outbreak, emergency supplies to humanitarian crises in Asia.
“This is a historic day for WFP,” UN World Food Programme (WFP) Cambodia Country Director Rebecca Hansen said. “The Regional Reserve Facility means that we can get to disaster victims much faster than we do now. The facility will have everything we need to mobilize a coordinated and well-equipped emergency operation in Asian countries, from India to China.”
The Asia Regional Response Facility will not store food, but rather an “instant infrastructure” for food delivery. The warehouse will dispatch equipment such as forklifts, generators, light vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, tools, spare parts, and fuel pumps to humanitarian emergencies. It will also have pre-fabricated offices, telecommunications and computer equipment.
“We expect this facility will serve the humanitarian community in Asia for years to come,” Ms. Hansen stated. “This is a region with a high propensity for natural disasters, and the WFP Regional Reserve Facility will make it easier and faster for us to help those affected by floods, droughts and cyclones.”
The warehouse was launched at a signing ceremony between WFP and the Government of Cambodia. Under the agreement, the Government will give WFP free space for an initial three-year period in a cluster of warehouses. The UN agency will in turn rehabilitate the warehouses, parts of which are already serving as office and storage space.
While WFP will manage and initially stock the Cambodia warehouse, it is expected that other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will take advantage of the services provided by this facility, modeled on what is currently WFP's only rapid response warehouse in Brindisi, Italy.
The Cambodian warehouse is the first of WFP’s planned “four corners network” of shared facilities near the epicentres of likely humanitarian crises. The centres, to be linked electronically, will cover Europe and the Middle East, southern Africa, Asia and Latin America. Ms. Hansen said Cambodia was chosen as the first location because of its attractive infrastructure, lower costs, and good working relationships with customs and government counterparts.