Communities learn to prepare for disasters

25 Aug 2010

(Ambae, Vanuatu) - A workshop on Disaster Risk Management was recently held in the Lungei Tagaro Area Council in East Ambae, Vanuatu.

“The discussions in this workshop have helped us and the community leaders to develop new ideas, so we can prepare better for the natural disasters that may occur in our area,” Mr Steward Natu, Administrator of the Area Council, said.

The workshop was held as part of finalizing a Disaster Risk Management Plan for the Penama Province. This plan will include issues such as to evacuate the population, how to secure food and water, how to build strong houses, how to request potential development assistance and also how to take care of the weakest members of the province.

It was the final of ten workshops held in all area councils of the province, organized by the Government of Vanuatu in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Building Resilient Communities towards Effective Governance project.

“The people of this province are already doing disaster risk management in their traditional way of living. Before a cyclone season they harvest food, they make sure they have extra drinking water and they try to protect their houses. We are working to find ways for them to prepare even better,” Mr Sunil Gurung, United Nations Volunteer and Disaster Risk Management specialist in the project, said.

The workshops have been held to ensure that the community voices will be heard and included in the plan.

“We need a working guide, so everybody knows what to do when a disaster strikes. At this stage there is no plan, so it is hard to transfer the structure and the knowledge to younger generations,” Mr Keith Andrew Mala, a participant, said.

The Penama Provincial Disaster Risk Management Plan will be finalized by the end of this year. UNDP are now working with the Government of Vanuatu to replicate this plan to the five other provinces in Vanuatu.

“Once this plan is finalized it will set the foundation for similar work in the remaining provinces. In this way each province will have a disaster risk management plan given the vulnerability of the country to natural hazards,” Mr Navin Bhan, UNDP Governance Associate, said.