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Protecting the Pacific: Disaster Risk Managers to meet in Suva
By Online Editor
6:13 pm GMT+12, 06/08/2010, Fiji
The Pacific is one the most disaster prone regions in the world. Tropical cyclones criss-cross the region annually. Events like the 2009 tsunami that devastated Samoa and Tonga and floods that submerged Fiji’s Western Division are constant reminders that people and governments must be prepared to deal with natural disasters at a moment’s notice.

In order to be better prepared, disaster managers from around the Pacific meet annually to share experiences and discuss ways to improve disaster risk management. This year their meeting is part of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) meeting to be held from 9th to 13th August at the Holiday Inn, Suva.

Mosese Sikivou, Manager of the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission’s (SOPAC) Community Risk Programme, said that since the Pacific Platform was set up in October 2008 this forum has been a valuable way to exchange information on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation initiatives across the region.

“This meeting will provide disaster managers the opportunity to network with partner organisations and learn how the latest developments in disaster risk management can enhance their work,” Mr Sikivou said. “These meetings help those involved in disaster management understand the challenges and issues, share ideas and be better positioned to collectively address issues in relation to vulnerability and risk.”

The Pacific Platform DRM meeting consists of two parts: the 16th Regional Disaster Managers Meeting (9th – 11th August) and the 5th Annual Meeting of the Pacific Disaster Risk Management Partnership Network (12th – 13th August).

The Regional Disaster Managers meeting is a forum that enables disaster managers from Pacific island countries the opportunity to discuss and define new and emerging challenges. This should subsequently allow for better Disaster Risk Management training and capacity building programmes that specifically target the heads of disaster offices and the disaster management support structures in the Pacific. This year’s meeting includes, for the first time, representatives from French Polynesia and Wallis & Futuna.

The Pacific Disaster Risk Management Partnership Network meeting that immediately follows, focuses on the theme:  Enhancing the Implementation of the Pacific Disaster Risk Reduction & Disaster Management Framework for Action through a Multi Stakeholder Approach.  

It brings together 37 development partners and donor organisations, including new partner organisations like Vodafone Fiji Limited, Femlink Pacific and the South Pacific Engineers Association. Participants will be able to share lessons learned from past experiences and gain insights from new partners.

“This multi-stakeholder approach brings together people from all sorts of backgrounds who can play a part in disaster risk management,” Mr Sikivou said. “Vodafone for example, is looking at ways to use their network to get out early warning text messages throughout Fiji. Exploring a multitude of avenues with different stakeholders enables us to find ways to ensure people are better prepared both before and after a disaster strikes.”

Pacific disaster managers will also have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of colleagues from the Caribbean with representatives from six Caribbean based organizations, through a United Nations Development Programme sponsored South-South exchange programme. Started in 2009, it aims to help Caribbean and Pacific small island developing states share technologies and best practices in relation to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. The programme has already seen two Pacific delegations visit the Caribbean in December 2009 and July 2010.

This year’s meetings are jointly organised by SOPAC, the Pacific Sub Regional Office of the Secretariat for the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Development Programme Pacific Centre (UNDP PC), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), The Asia Foundation and USAID/Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (TAF/OFDA) and the International Federation for Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Contacts: Mosese Sikivou: Manager, SOPAC Community Risk Programme: Work (+679) 338-1377 (ext 252); Mobile (+679) 999-9054; email mosese@sopac.org;
Stephanie Zoll: SOPAC CBDRM Advisor: Work (+679) 338-1707 (ext 308); email: stephanie@sopac.org
Tiy Chung, SOPAC Media Advisor: Work (+679) 338 1377 (ext 290); Mobile (+679) 998 7586; email tiy@sopac.org;

SOURCE: SOPAC/PACNEWS

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