UN agency and Citigroup launch emergency network to speed aid for disaster victims
The private sector pledged further support for United Nations relief work today with the launch at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, of a major new partnership between the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Citigroup to deliver pre-planned aid as soon as the next disaster strikes, be it tsunami, earthquake or hurricane.
“As the rate of emergencies increases, WFP is faced with an unprecedented challenge of developing a faster and more efficient response to potential crises worldwide,” the agency’s Associate Director of Operations and Transport Amer Daoudi said of the new Emergency Network, which enables companies to deliver items such as trucks, telecommunications equipment and food to augment the agency’s disaster response ahead of time.
“Thanks to Citigroup, the launch of The Emergency Network, and the funding of our SENAC project we will enhance our preparedness enormously,” he added, referring to WFP’s three-year-old Strengthening Emergency Needs Assessment Capacity initiative that focuses on gathering data on potential future disasters.
Citigroup also announced that its Foundation would grant $3.2 million over two years to WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian organization and the UN’s logistics coordinator in times of disaster as well as its lead agency in the fight against hunger, to increase its ability to assess food security in crisis-prone countries ahead of disaster, a critical agency priority.
“In times of disaster – whether it’s a tsunami, or an earthquake, or a hurricane – the private sector provides aid because it’s the right thing to do,” the Co-President of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking, Michael Klein, said. “Moreover, it’s clear that the private sector can play a strategic role in advancing WFP’s ability to save lives by leveraging our business continuity expertise and our excess capacity globally in advance of disaster.”
The grant will fund SENAC, enabling “all of us to target where disasters may strike next and to do everything we can to prevent them or otherwise minimize their impact to the people on the ground, typically the poorest of the poor,” he added.
SENAC aims to fill the crucial need for accurate information when a crisis strikes, including who is suffering from hunger, where people live and how many there are. Such pre-crisis information permits quicker and more efficient humanitarian aid. Citigroup’s grant will also be used to help set up systems to monitor any changes in people's ability to feed themselves.
Citigroup and WFP are discussing the Emergency Network with a number of companies and expect to announce new members shortly. WFP has a number of corporate partners, including TNT, the Dutch logistics firm, Boston Consulting Group, Unilever and Vodafone Group Foundation.