The Survey Department of Sri Lanka and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) signed a historic agreement for Digital Data Dissemination yesterday.
The agreement, the first of its kind between the Government and the United Nations, allows for organizations to freely use Government geographic data for disaster management purposes.
Since the authorities and humanitarian organizations face numerous challenges when responding to major disasters, ensuring these organizations all use the same geographic data is essential if the information is to be shared quickly with the Government, as well as other humanitarian partners, the UNOCHA said.
Both the Government and UNOCHA have underscored the pivotal role that common data standards make towards making disaster preparedness and response activities more efficient and effective.
Brendan McDonald, Head of UNOCHA Sri Lanka, has said that the agreement was "a practical example of the Government's commitment to the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action" which was adopted by the Government in 2005 at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, Japan.
He also said that the agreement reflected how the Government and the United Nations work together to build sustainable partnerships in advance of disasters. This partnership can reduce the impact of disasters on people's lives, as well as the Sri Lankan economy and environment.
In the last 34 years natural disasters have killed more than 37,000 Sri Lankans. The economic cost of disasters over the last ten years in Sri Lanka has exceeded 257 billion rupees, or USD 1.95 billion dollars, the UNOCHA estimates.