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HSA to the rescue

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Nepal’s first Humanitarian Staging Area (HSA) was inaugurated today at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

This HSA, developed by United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) and humanitarian partners is the first of the four planned staging areas in Kathmandu. The other three are planned at Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), Tribhuvan University (TU) and Bhaktapur. Department for International Development (DFID) supported the construction of this HSA.

Kathmandu is among the top 10 earthquake prone cities in the world. Due to its geography, it can take 10 to 14 days for support to arrive by road. The likelihood of telecommunication networks not working and insufficient local food stocks is high. In case of a large scale emergency humanitarian support will come to HSA by air. It will also serve as a communications hub from where emergency-related equipments can be deployed and distributed.

“If there is an earthquake in Kathmandu, we will have to rely on ourselves for the first few weeks. That is why it is important that we look at what we can preposition, have some relief items in place to respond to that,” said Piet Vochten, Deputy Country Director, WFP.  “As soon as the airstrip is running, this (the HSA) is where the relief will come in. The staging area is directly linked to the airstrip so we can take off the relief goods as quickly as possible, store them here and depending on how the situation is ship it out. This helps decongest the airstrip so more relief goods can come in,” he added.

This 10,000 square meters covering HSA will  serve as a humanitarian logistics hub. It has the capacity to store food supplies for more than 250,000 people for 30 days, hygiene and sanitation equipments for around 230,000 people and shelter for more than 94,000 people. The staging area at the airport is equipped with logistics equipments, mobile storage units, generators, fuel tanks and VSAT connections for satellite phones and internet.

According to Vochten, at the moment no food supplies are stored in the HSA and they are working with Nepal Food Corporation in strengthening and retrofitting the storage building at the Corporation.

Currently, the HSA is being used as a platform to provide emergency logistics and telecommunications training.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony chief guest Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam said, “Considering that the whole of Nepal is prone to earthquakes and other natural disasters, we need to establish such centers throughout the country. Also, we are working on a new Natural Disaster Relief Act which we hope will help in structural disaster management and providing assistance.”


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