Birgunj, December 3: The Government of Nepal, the British Embassy, and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) inaugurated a new Humanitarian Staging Area (HSA) in Birgunj, Province 2, Friday. This is as part of the continued effort in strengthening the country’s emergency preparedness and response capacity.
Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Tek Narayan Pandey, together with WFP Nepal Representative and Country Director, Robert Kasca, and special representatives from the British Embassy attended the ceremony.
“The humanitarian staging area in Birgunj, constructed targeting the country’s major international land transit point, will help to increase the capacity of emergency preparedness in a coordinated manner in this province and at local levels,” Home Secretary Tek Narayan Pandey said, adding that given its role in procuring, storing and transporting the emergency materials coming from the land route to other disaster affected areas of the country, it can make a significant contribution not only in Province 2 but also in other parts of the country.
With a storage capacity of 2,032 square metric tons, the facility was constructed by WFP with UKaid contributions, in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board. Already, there are 7 HSAs in other province, which have played an important role in the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies.
WFP has been supporting the Government of Nepal since 2013 in building a national logistics network to strengthen emergency preparedness and response capacities for the country. The establishment of the HSA nationwide network follows the success of the UK-funded Kathmandu Humanitarian Staging Area at the Tribhuvan International Airport, which was completed one month before the devastating 2015 earthquake. Its activation was extremely timely and made a difference in the earthquake response. Without it, some 21 days would have been needed for the relief efforts to reach those in desperate need.
“Investing in emergency preparedness ahead of disasters is one of the most effective ways in protecting lives and assets. We are pleased work closely with the Government to ensure that each province has the capacity to respond to disasters quickly and effectively,” said Robert Kasca, WFP Nepal Representative and Country Director.