U.S. Trade and Development Agency Announces Projects in Asia
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington - The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) announced September 15 that it has awarded four grants to fund projects in Indonesia, Vietnam and China.
The grants will fund technical assistance and investment analysis in areas as diverse as emergency preparedness, aviation system modernization and water supply management, the agency said.
The agency's goal is to support the development of modern infrastructure and encourage fair and open trading environments in developing and middle-income countries.
EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS IN INDONESIA
A technical assistance grant of $391,000 to Badan Meteorologi dan Geofisika (BMG), Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency, will help support the development of a reliable emergency communications system for use during natural disasters and other hazardous situations.
With a large population scattered across an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, the Indonesian government has faced tremendous obstacles in establishing a reliable means of conveying information rapidly to the public during emergencies.
The country lies in one of the world's most active zones of seismic activity, and in 2006 alone suffered five major earthquakes, resulting in hundreds dead and thousands displaced. Indonesia bore the brunt of the damage from the December 2004 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Indian Ocean region.
"This agreement demonstrates the sustained U.S. government commitment to both develop a comprehensive tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean and aid Indonesia in its recovery from the 2004 tsunami and subsequent disasters," said John Heffern, chargé d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta.
Grant funds will be used to support reliable communications between BMG and Bakornas, Indonesia's national disaster-management agency, and to connect eight planned regional operations centers with the national operations center in Jakarta. The project also will set up a notification and communications system for first responders and local government authorities and will automate control of coastal warning sirens in high-risk zones.
The new project follows a USTDA grant of $650,000 to BMG in 2005. That grant provided technical assistance and operational support for BMG's national operations center. USTDA has awarded more than $7.7 million for 19 reconstruction projects in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand related to the 2004 tsunami.
UPGRADING INFORMATION SYSTEMS IN VIETNAM
USTDA awarded two technical assistance grants totaling $795,000 in Vietnam to help that nation's airline industry meet international efficiency standards and to modernize information systems in its finance ministry.
A $523,000 grant to Vietnam Airlines Corporation will help the carrier meet requirements of the "Simplifying the Business" program of the International Air Traffic Association (IATA). The initiative is intended to establish international consistency and greater cost efficiency in the airline industry's handling of commercial transactions via the Internet.
By meeting IATA standards in electronic ticketing processes and freight handling, Vietnam Airlines will be able to enter into code-sharing arrangements with other international carriers, according to USTDA. Unisys Corporation of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, will provide assistance to the airline under the USTDA grant.
A second grant of $272,000 will help Vietnam's finance ministry create a modern information system for financial statistics based on International Monetary Fund standards. The ministry has approved a plan to complete the system by 2010.
The new system is expected to provide "reliable, transparent and up-to-date trade and economic data consistent with the expectations of international investors and financial institutions," according to USTDA.
MANAGING STORM WATER IN CHINA
USTDA awarded a grant of $533,016 to the Beijing Water Authority (BWA), partially funding a study that will evaluate the viability of an integrated management system for storm-water runoff in China's capital city.
In collaboration with EDAW Inc., a San Francisco-based corporation that provides services including environmental impact assessment and resource management planning, BWA plans to develop a system that will use computer modeling and water sensors to assess accumulation of storm water and diversion of runoff into "combined outflow or treatment plants." Through this process, local precipitation could be used to increase the country's water supply.
The USTDA grant also will fund a pilot study of a system prototype.
The grant is intended to improve China's ability to manage water demand and relieve water scarcity in northeastern China.
USTDA has funded more than 80 projects in China since 2001, supporting significant development objectives. The development agency has focused in particular on projects in the areas of transportation, energy and environment.
The full texts of the grant announcements are available on USTDA's Web site.