Disaster Risk Reduction

Speeches Shim

Pacific Islands Humanitarian Assistance

Countries in the Pacific experience a wide range of hazards, including cyclones, floods, drought, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Meanwhile, extreme climate variations are presenting new risks, including changes in rainfall patterns, increased severity of storms and rises in sea levels. Poverty, population growth and rapid urbanization all exacerbate these vulnerabilities.

USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) leads and coordinates the U.S. government’s response to disasters overseas. USAID/BHA responds to an average of 65 disasters, in more than 50 countries, every year. The types of disasters that USAID/BHA responds to are rapid onset disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanoes and floods and slow onset crises, such as drought and conflict. In partnership with other operating units of USAID and other U.S. government agencies, USAID/BHA saves lives, alleviates human suffering and reduces the social and economic impact of disasters worldwide.

DISASTER RESPONSE ACTIVITIES in the PACIFIC ISLANDS

Early Recovery from Cyclones in Fiji through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Child Protection Interventions
In response to the impacts in Fiji from the dual cyclones Yasa and Ana compounded by COVID-19 socio-economic impacts, USAID/BHA is providing nearly $1 million to the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to address early recovery needs in protection and water, sanitation, and hygiene sectors. In addition, this funding will help to build better systems and local response capacity and preparedness for future climate-events. Specifically, the funding will support children to access psychosocial support through social-recreational activities. UNICEF will train and support subject matter experts to train adults, including community volunteers, will be able to identify and report child trauma, abuse, neglect and exploitation. UNICEF will also restore resilient water, sanitation and hygiene services to Tropical Cyclone Yasa and Ana affected communities, health facilities and schools.

REGIONAL DISASTER RISK REDUCTION ACTIVITIES in the PACIFIC ISLANDS

Building Disaster Management Capacity in the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands
The Pacific Island countries of FSM, Palau, and RMI are vulnerable to a number of natural hazards, including drought, floods, and cyclones. The Marshall Islands Red Cross Society (MIRCS), Micronesia Red Cross Society (MRCS), and Palau Red Cross Society (PRCS)—supported by IFRC—continue to partner with local government agencies, businesses, and communities to build awareness of disaster response activities and cultivate a trained volunteer base for emergency responses. USAID/BHA has provided more than $3.9 million since FY 2013 to support the preparedness and mitigation activities of MIRCS, MRCS, and PRCS. In addition, local Red Cross branches will be empowered to work with communities to improve their resilience through small-scale projects, such as preparation of family disaster kits for evacuation, installation of flag warning systems, vegetable gardening, clearing evacuation routes and installing signage, and well rehabilitation.

Increasing Resilience and Response Capacity to Natural Disasters
IFRC is working to increase the capacity, readiness, and resilience of national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in EAP to respond to natural disasters. Through the program, IFRC is working with national societies, including in PNG, to strengthen their capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters.

Monitoring Impacts of Climate Shocks and COVID-19 on Food Security, Nutrition, and Livelihoods across the Pacific
In April 2020, WFP’s mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) platform launched in five Pacific Island Countries: Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Kiribati. With USAID support, the program will be continued in the first five countries and expanded to RMI, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu. The mVAM gathers data on the impacts of COVID-19 and other shocks to household food security and livelihoods. The survey also collects data on micro-macro nutrient intake and is disaggregated at the household level to review the specific vulnerabilities of households headed by women, person(s) with a disability and with children under 5 years of age. WFP collects key food security and livelihood information through short live telephone interviews through computer assisted telephone interview (CATI) software. This data is shared with the local government authorities and humanitarian community to inform response priorities.

Inclusive Mitigation and Preparedness in Action (IMPACT) FSM
IOM will contribute to enhancing the capacity of communities and governments in FSM to be better prepared for and more resilient to hazard events and disasters. The project will be achieved by: (1) equipping communities with the resources and skills to actively mitigate hazards; (2) prioritizing an inclusive approach with traditionally underrepresented populations; and (3) supporting response planning through Joint Damage Assessments. IOM is working in close coordination with the Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Emergency Management (DECEM) throughout the project. Eight communities are targeted across the nation for concerted work to create community disaster plans and identify local hazards. The program goes one step further to work with communities to address these hazards through community projects that will mitigate the risk in the future. Finally, youth and other under-represented groups will be front and center in this project, receiving training and support for projects to address issues within their own communities.

Enhancing Community Resilience and Strengthening Branches and Volunteer Networks for a Stronger Kiribati Red Cross Society
Across the Pacific, local Red Cross societies are key partners in disaster response and community preparedness for cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, and droughts. This initiative will utilize current IFRC National Society Development and National Society Preparedness Frameworks to enhance Kiribati Red Cross Society (KRCS) to deliver relevant services to the communities to mitigate the impacts of current and future climate-related risks. KRCS is a key first responder organization and this program will improve their geographic coverage and volunteer support and training programs. The support will enable the KRCS to open two new branches in the outer-islands. This initiative will support the expansion of youths and volunteers to engage in critical thinking about climate change, find solutions and inspire appropriate climate action in their communities. Young people and volunteers can be important agents of change in raising awareness and taking action on climate change issues, both on the immediate and long-term impacts. Preparedness for disaster response--including volunteer mobilisation, training, and support to community disaster response committees--contributes to the most pressing climate issues affecting the communities.

Palau Emergency Preparedness and Enhanced Resilience (PEPER)
IOM is implementing the PEPER project in Palau, which seeks to contribute to the country’s preparedness and response capacity by strengthening evacuation shelters, training community leaders on shelter management, conducting response exercises, and pre-positioning emergency relief commodities. In partnership with the Government of Palau and the National Emergency Management Office, IOM is helping mitigate the effects of disasters by enhancing local capacities and ownership.

Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP)
Implemented by the U.S. Geological Survey, VDAP provides technical assistance to national volcano monitoring organizations, including training in hazard assessment, early warning system development, and volcano monitoring equipment installation. With prior year funding, USGS continued to support the Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory and Rabaul Volcano Observatory in PNG through VDAP, helping improve volcanic gas monitoring and warning systems.

Promoting Resilience through Essentials Pre-positioned for Samoa
CRS’ PREPS project is strengthening disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels through the pre-positioning of emergency relief supplies at six locations in Samoa. This involves building three warehouses to store emergency relief supplies; relocating three currently fully stocked containers; purchasing emergency relief items to supply 990 households (over 6,930 people); and training warehouse managers, community volunteers, and local leadership to maintain and distribute supplies when needed. In total, this project will benefit 10,688 direct beneficiaries. CRS implements in Samoa through the local organization Caritas.

Building Resilient Communities in Solomon Islands
USAID/BHA is supporting IFRC to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities in the Solomon Islands and expand the ability of the Solomon Island Red Cross Society (SIRCS) to support disaster risk management and community-based health programs. The program aims to empower government agencies and targeted communities to assess and manage risks by conducting participatory capacity and vulnerability assessments, establishing village disaster response committees, and developing community action plans. Additionally, IFRC is supporting simulation exercises, training community members in first aid and hygiene best practices and supporting the creation of community-based early warning systems.

Equipping Vulnerable Communities in the Solomon Islands
Remote communities of the Solomon Islands are highly vulnerable to natural disasters and shocks such as sea level rise, cyclones, tsunamis, and earthquakes. The Equipping Vulnerable Communities in the Solomon Islands project partners with communities in the Weathercoast region of Guadalcanal Province and the North region of Malaita Province to reduce disaster risks for vulnerable women, children and people with disabilities. World Vision is training Provincial Disaster Management Offices in Guadalcanal and Malaita provinces in disaster management. World Vision is working to build community level capacity to understand natural hazards, risks, and vulnerability, manage and mitigate disaster risks, and improve knowledge on early warning systems.

Inclusive Disaster Resilience (Tonga)
Act for Peace is implementing community-based disaster risk reduction activities in 27 remote communities in Tonga. Act for Peace is partnering with the local organization, Tongan National Council for Churches (TNCC), to implement the program targeting nearly 9,000 people. TNCC is training the village emergency management committees on disability inclusion for village-level disaster plans. Act for Peace is assessing and identifying three remote evacuation centers and will undertake needed rehabilitation and upgrades to ensure their safety and accessibility for all community members. The project will also focus on improved community water security, which is an ongoing issue for most remote communities, and include short-term staff embedded in Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office.

Building Resilient Communities in Vanuatu
The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) is working to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities and enhance the capacity of the Vanuatu Red Cross Society (VRCS) to prepare for disasters, mobilize and train volunteers, and support community disaster response committees. By providing financial and technical support to VRCS, IFRC aims to expand the organization’s ability to identify and address risks and respond to disasters through a decentralized local disaster network, ensuring a sustainable program approach. Additionally, IFRC is conducting community risk assessments and developing local action plans based on assessment findings.

Safe Community, Resilient Nation: Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction for Safe and Resilient Communities in Vanuatu
The CARE program aims to improve community-based preparedness and response to disasters and climate hazards in Tafea and Penama provinces of Vanuatu ensuring inclusion of women, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. The program will strengthen the community based disaster risk reduction policies, plans, and practices at the community, provincial, and national levels. In addition, the program will expand the government’s Community Disaster and Climate Change Committees model and develop inclusive disaster plans. Building off of successful shelter response programs following Tropical Cyclone Harold, CARE will further promote locally appropriate models for shelter preparedness and recovery. Finally, CARE will strengthen Area Council and Provincial disaster risk planning capacities.

Last updated: November 25, 2022

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