Palau

Enhancing capacity for preparedness and response to emergencies

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The Ambassador of Japan in Palau, H.E. Karasawa Akira, President of Palau, H.E.Surangel Whipps, Jr., Country Project Coordinator UNDP, Aleyda Valde and Division of Fire and Secure of Palau staff in front of the fire vehicles © UNDP

Koror, Palau – An elliptical tanker, and a rescue fire truck are set to enhance the Palau Government’s capacity for preparedness and response to emergencies.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, through the Japan funded Enhancing Disaster and Climate Resilience (EDCR) project handed over the two fire vehicles to the Koror fire station on Tuesday 18 May. The roof of the fire station was also extended by the project to provide safe parking spaces.

Palau as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), remains vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This is partially due to extreme weather events, severe droughts, sea level rise, and coastal erosion. During mid 2015 – 2016, Palau was affected by a severe and extended drought that affected the water supply service to the capital, which resulted in rationing of water to residents. Public water supply and other surface water sources would face water shortages during hot and dry conditions, and there’s also a risk of droughts increasing the probability of fire in the country.

However, Palau currently lacks sufficient infrastructure and resources to effectively respond to fires, meaning that uncontrolled fires are left to burn out on their own. In 2018 – 2020, a total of 152 emergency responses were delivered by the Palau Division of Fires and Rescue and 41 are projected for this year.

The Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Public Safety, Division of Fire and Rescue, therefore requested assistance from the UNDP EDCR project with critical fire equipment and facility upgrades, which amounts to approximately US$793,000 to improve their response to fires and other emergencies.

The vehicles handed over to the Koror fire station will be used as fire trucks and the elliptical tanker will be used as a 3,000-gallon water tank truck to transport water to communities when people are not able to obtain clean water due to droughts and/or any deficiency in the water system. His Excellency Surangel Whipps, Jr., President of Palau said, “As a SIDS, our communities are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. With its ever-growing threats, adaptation and mitigation are keys to ensuring the safety of our communities and this assistance will help us in ensuring such. The most recent example of climate threat is typhoon Surigae. We are thankful for this partnership for resilience with Japan and UNDP through the EDCR project to help us implement a solution to support our adaptation and mitigation efforts.”

Echoing the same sentiments, His Excellency Karasawa Akira, Ambassador of Japan to Palau said, “This assistance for the Division of Fire and Rescue will definitely improve their preparedness and capacity to deal with emergent fire-related accidents. I hope the division will make good use of them for a long period of time.”

Aleyda Valdes, Country Project Coordinator for the UNDP EDCR Project conveyed the message on behalf of Mr. Levan Bouadze, Resident Representative of UNDP Pacific in Fiji, highlighting that the equipment will be instrumental to fight the fires in Palau, especially in the main island which will result in protecting the lives of the people of Palau and maintaining the ecosystem of the island.

It is the fourth handover of the UNDP ECDR Project to the Ministry of Justice, which is supported by the Government of Japan in partnership with the Government of Palau.

The UNDP EDCR project, since its commencement in 2019, has provided equipment strategic to Palau’s disaster risk management. The project aims to strengthen gender sensitive disaster communication and climate monitoring systems; enhance gender sensitive national and state disaster responder’s readiness capacity; and enhance community disaster resilience through improved water resource management and integrated gender and social inclusion awareness.

For more information, please contact:

Aleyda Valdes, Palau Country Project Coordinator, Enhancing Disaster and Climate Resilience in the Republic of Palau through Improved Disaster Preparedness and Infrastructure, UNDP Pacific Office, Tel: +(680) 488 3394, Mob: +(680) 775 3433; Email: aleyda.valdes@undp.org

Summer Lee, Communications, Partnership and Donor Liaison Specialist, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Mob: +(679) 866 2945, Email: summer.lee@undp.org