The United Nations World Food Programme has ‘closed the circle’ on its network of United Nations Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRDs), with the launch of construction at the Asia centre in Subang, Malaysia.
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by the Malaysian Minister of Defence, WFP Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla and other dignitaries on March 31, with several of the world’s top media organizations in attendance.
“Preparedness is an important investment against man-made and natural disasters,” Abdulla said during his remarks. “It buys valuable time, hastens response time and gives vulnerable people a better chance of coping through a disaster.”The new base is set to be a centre of humanitarian excellence for the Asia region and beyond, comprising a training centre, as well as state-of-the-art offices and warehousing facilities. The full cost of the construction is being borne by the Government of Malaysia, who will also contribute US$1 million each year towards running costs.
The Subang UNHRD has been operational out of temporary facilities since June last year, providing emergency materials for humanitarian operations in Pakistan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Most recently, the Subang UNHRD supplied high-energy biscuits, as well as temporary office space and warehousing, to WFP response to victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
Built into the operational plan for Subang is the close support of the private sector, an increasingly key partner for WFP, especially in Asia. The Malaysian government have offered a special tax privilege for companies supporting the UNHRD until September this year.
WFP’s “Malaysia for Asia” initiative envisions harnessing the financial muscle of the private sector to help pre-position vital supplies of ready-to-eat meals to be dispatched in emergencies, to cover the costs of first cargo flights in response to disasters and to support the use of Subang as a centre of best practice for humanitarian organisations