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Dr Martelli, Thank you for your comments and insights. I encourage you to read again my original blog post which was written while I was in L’Aquila, as I am sure that you will see in my words the admiration that I and my colleagues felt for the work of the Italian Civil Defense and its volunteers in the aftermath of the tragedy in L’Aquila. The Italian Civil Defense has one of the most well-established, organized and efficiently functioning emergency response systems in the world. The World Bank has been collaborating with the Italian Civil Defense for many years to bring Italy’s good practice and experience to other countries. Italy is a generous provider of technical assistance and aid in the field of disaster response, providing not only money and equipment in the immediate aftermath of disasters, but most importantly, know-how and technical skills through long-term collaboration with other countries in the region and the world. In fact, one of the results of the World Bank team’s visit to L’Aquila was the recent signing of a cooperation agreement between the Italian Civil Defense and the World Bank to further strengthen our ability to work together to bring Italy’s good experiences to developing countries: The Wenchuan and L’Aquila earthquakes were both tragedies that created enormous challenges for the affected communities and governments. The response in both cases has been remarkable, but the circumstances have been very different. The comparisons to which you refer in your letter were made by Italian Civil Defense personnel, not by me. As professionals in this field, and also as participants in the response to both earthquakes (Italian Civil Defense provided assistance to China after the Wenchuan earthquake), they are uniquely qualified to make such comparisons. Their purpose in providing these examples to us was to highlight that local conditions – in particular culture – matter in disaster response. Every country can learn from each other but ultimately it must develop its own system because the challenges each government and community faces in responding to disasters is unique. Regards Mara Warwick