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Annex 1: Welcome address

Welcome Address
He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

presented by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Deputy Regional Representative and
Focal Point of FAO’s Programme in Thailand
at the
Regional Workshop on Information Management and Coordination Mechanisms of the
Tsunami Emergency and Rehabilitation Operations in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
30 October 2006, Bangkok, Thailand

Distinguished Representatives of Governments, Institutions and Organizations
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this important regional workshop on information management and coordination mechanisms of the tsunami emergency and rehabilitation operations in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

Following the devastating tsunami on 26 December 2004, numerous national and international institutions and organizations assisted the affected countries in resuming activities in agriculture, fisheries and forestry with the main aim of restoring shattered livelihoods in the affected communities.

To facilitate the coordination of rehabilitation and reconstruction activities, the respective governments established emergency committees, followed by more institutionalized units such as Disaster Management Centres, Task Forces and Bureaus. For effective coordination and planning of future rehabilitation activities, information and information management are essential prerequisites.

In this context, FAO initiated a regional project entitled Regional Coordination and Information Management on Strategies for Early Recovery of Agriculture in Coastal Regions focusing on enhancing information systems and institutional capacity building of tsunami affected countries. The project supported medium to long-term planning and the coordination, monitoring and implementation of livelihoods rehabilitation interventions. At present, twenty-two months after the tsunami, the situation is normalizing and the focus is shifting from emergency response to long-term rehabilitation.

With these issues in focus, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific convenes this important regional workshop to bring together relevant national and international institutions and organizations from Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand to assess the present status of coordination activities, and to share experiences and knowledge. The outcomes of the workshop will assist in the development of future plans and strategies for coordination and information management towards longer-term rehabilitation and development of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.

National workshops conducted earlier in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Thailand highlighted the importance of coordination and information management for effective and efficient planning and implementation of rehabilitation activities, as well as the need for further improvement at national and regional level in all aspects of management and use of information. The present workshop thus provides an opportunity to examine and review the current situation and share the lessons learned with regard to coordination and information management in tsunami rehabilitation activities in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors and to plan future interventions for sustainable development of all three sectors. Specifically, the workshop will:

We are also taking advantage of this opportunity to introduce and share the experience of Thailand and FAO’s joint post-tsunami rehabilitation programmes in agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

FA O’s experience during the rehabilitation period points to the need for greater cross-sectoral integration and coordination for more sustainable and effective rehabilitation. It is for this reason that the agriculture, fisheries and forestry groups of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific have joined together to organize this meeting. Livelihoods and coastal natural resources management are both multi- and inter-sectoral in nature. Sectoral interventions thus tend to have partial or imbalanced results for communities. At the same time, while recognizing that coordination and information management incur additional costs, the end result is not only more efficient and cost-effective but also guarantees a higher degree of fairness and equitable distribution of support to the affected people.

We should also realize that your dedication and efforts towards the institutional and human resource capacity building on information collection, dissemination and management at district, provincial and national levels contributed not only to post-tsunami rehabilitation, but also to the promotion of the quality of long-term public services through improved data collection and analysis skills and enhanced preparedness to meet the challenge of various natural disasters, which might come in the future. Finally, I sincerely hope that the results of this workshop will be valuable to your work for better planning and implementation of rehabilitation and development activities in the tsunami affected areas.

I wish you a fruitful and successful workshop. I hereby declare the workshop open.

Thank you.

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