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AIT's Response to Myanmar Cyclone Disaster

The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and its entire extended community has been deeply shocked and saddened by the epic extent of the human tragedy unfolding in Myanmar, in the aftermath of tropical cyclone Nargis.

To expedite AIT’s official response to support the people of Myanmar in this time of great need and, following initial brainstorming I have had with some members of the AIT community, AIT along with its partners will act immediately to assist the disaster situation in both short term and long term ways.

To start with, we intend to send expeditiously an official study mission delegation to Myanmar to ascertain precisely how AIT can contribute best to the relief and rehabilitation of the cyclone-impacted areas. Following the return of this delegation, AIT will conduct an open and participatory workshop/forum to inform the community of detailed aspects of the disaster and to plan for specific ways in which the Institute can assist people based on our core competencies. As evidenced from a similar exercise which AIT had conducted in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami of 2004, such an assessment and workshop greatly helped facilitate in the sharing of data and information and in the creation of synergies and linkages between AIT and other partners in working towards the reconstruction, rehabilitation, and longer-term capacity building initiatives for the affected communities.  For those faculty members, staff, students, alumni and partners who have ideas and suggestions as to how we could best coordinate this initiative, please kindly contact AIT faculty member Dr. Amrit Bart bart@ait.ac.th. It is my sincere hope that we can begin to work with our Asian and international partners and alumni networks to seek donations and resources needed to aid the misery that we are presently witness to in Myanmar. 

At the same time, AIT will also launch, with immediate effect, a permanent “AIT-Myanmar Fund” to be established at AIT. This Fund will be utilized for both short and long term approaches. In the short term, the Fund will activate measures for ways AIT can contribute to initial relief efforts and short rehabilitation of disaster affected areas. In the longer term this could include activities such capacity building training programs for participants from Myanmar. The Fund will be operating on a project basis open to sustainable development-focused projects in Myanmar. Dr. Ni Ni Thein will take the lead to mobilize faculty, staff, students, alumni as well external partners to participate in this process, and to work to establish a permanent AIT-Myanmar Fund Steering Committee. It is hoped that this Steering Committee would include representative participation of AIT community members, external private sector concerns, and international development organizations. Suggestions and comments regarding the AIT-Myanmar Fund are welcome and can be sent to Dr. Ni Ni at knnthein@ait.ac.th

Given the urgency of the situation and need to act fast, initial comments and suggestions are invited from faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners of AIT, as to how the above mentioned efforts could be enhanced, not later than by noon on Monday, 12 May 2008.  We will then try to come up with a consolidated response, taking into account the feedback received by late afternoon on Monday, 12 May 2008.