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By PACNEWS Editor, Makereta Komai in Geneva
Lack of engagement and co-ordination between local authorities and communities in the Pacific on disaster risk reduction, is among a number of findings from a survey conducted by the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI).
Titled, Views from the Frontline, the report gathers the views of stakeholders on the progress made by their countries on disaster risk reduction. It highlights where more action is needed and also build local level partnership to mobilise more effective action.
In the Pacific, FSPI carried out the survey in six Pacific Island Countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu), gathering views from the frontline, targeting community and local government representatives.
There were five main recommendations centred on lack of participation and inclusion of local communities in disaster risk reduction planning and implementation.
There were strong suggestions for partnerships between local authorities, communities and the private sector to make decisions on disaster risk reduction.
FSPI Regional Disaster Office, Jiuta Korovulavula presented findings from the Pacific at one of the plenary sessions at the UN Global Platform on disaster reduction conference in Geneva this week.
“The lack of community participation is the situation across all the six Pacific countries.
At the same time, the poorest in the community are the most vulnerable to impacts of disaster.
“There are a lot of consistencies across the board. It is national and local government’s responsibility to provide service delivery. However, very little seems to reaching people in the community. It falls back on how national delivery is planned and how resources are allocated on those plans.
“We need to take a step back and fix those operational issues because if not, when we come to the end result, there will not be much progress in terms of the inclusion of vulnerable groups and communities in processes for their own development, Korovulavula explained to PACNEWS.
Fiji’s Minister for Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu, who is leading the Fiji delegation has assured the special needs of vulnerable groups in the community will be taken care of in the new disaster reduction policy that government is working on. Government will review the Disaster Management Acts of the 1990s, with a view to incorporate emerging issues in disaster risk reduction, one of which includes vulnerable groups.
“That will be fantastic. The key thing here is for government to have the political will and commitment to move in that direction. These are common sense kind of thing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. We just need to take that step forward to make those relevant changes to deal with things on a daily basis, said Korovulavula in response to the proactive approach taken by the current administration in Fiji.
Minister Seruiratu said government is working on changing the culture reaction to prevention in addressing disaster reduction in Fiji.
This change in mindset was reflected in the level of preparedness the people of Fiji went through during Tropical Cyclone Evan, where no lives were lost from the category four hurricane.
Korovulavula applauded the new shift in thinking in Fiji attributing some of the success to public-private sector partnership, with the country’s two mobile phone companies, Vodafone and Digicel.
“I think I need to mention the involvement of Vodafone and Digicel on the early warning alert messages before the cyclone. When the sms message was sent out, the news spread widely forcing people to make decision on what to do.
Recommendations from ‘Views from the Frontline (VFL)’ will support work underway at national, regional and international levels to develop a post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action.
However, eight years on from its formulation, the reality for people at the frontline remains bleak. VFL 2013 finds that 57% of all respondents report that disaster losses are still increasing.
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