Koror, Palau - In a concerted effort to mitigate and enhance disaster and climate resilience in Palau, representatives and key stakeholders from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) have agreed to collaborate more effectively and efficiently to minimize the risk from future disasters. This partnership includes a focus to raise the awareness and enhance the long-term capacities of relevant stakeholders in disaster management.
The commitment to take a long-term strategic approach will be made through a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and Disaster Recovery Framework (DRF) training to get underway in February this year. PDNA is an internationally accredited and credible methodology developed by the World Bank, European Union and United National Development Group (UNDG). It is recognised by key development partners and guides all stakeholders in the government-led coordination to mobilise resources at national, and potentially regional and international levels, aligning support and recovery in a standard systematic manner.
Like other small island nations in the Pacific, Palau with its population of 21 516, is vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters with frequently occurring climate and geophysical related hazards. The country experiences impacts of frequent hazards including typhoons, droughts, and storm surges, which can result in human casualties, disrupt economic activity and lead to loss of livelihoods.
“UNDP through the Japan partnership funded “Enhancing Disaster and Climate Resilience in Palau through Improved Disaster Preparedness and Infrastructure” project contributes to building resilience in Palau by improving the capacity for preparedness and mitigation to man-made, geo-physical, climate- related hazards and climate change impact,” said UNDP workshop facilitator, Noud Leenders.
“Post-disaster recovery processes provide opportunities to nurture resilient development. Recovery and reconstruction involve more than simply rebuilding, which will only replicate the conditions that make communities vulnerable to disasters in the first place,” Leenders added.
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan caused severe damages to infrastructure across various sectors including education, utilities, health, agriculture, public works, and housing. An estimated 454 homes were either totally destroyed or damaged. Shortly afterwards in 2016, severe drought associated with El Niño weather conditions led to water shortages across 80 percent of Palau and generated significant sanitation and hygiene risks. The damages and losses not only severely affect the livelihood of the community, they further exacerbate the country’s capability to recover, rehabilitate and reconstruct.
“The remoteness of Palau means that additional resources will take quite some time to get to the country. PDNA therefore, gives us a clear overview of the response and recovery efforts. It will assist with planning and estimating arrival times of resources for the next event”, expressed NEMO Director Waymine Towai.
“We are focused on working together across organisations to reach the last and furthest person. The existing initiatives including how to organise communities and how to interpret special weather patterns and statements have laid a solid foundation for further training together with building infrastructure such as the siren system and the AM tower which speaks to reaching the most remote communities, added Mr Towai.
The Director of SPC’s ‘Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division’ (GEM Division) Dr Andrew Jones said “the information from post disaster assessments including PDNAs, helps us determine how we can best support countries in understanding the future impact of disasters. Climate change is already being felt in our region and the increased risk caused by it means that we need to understand and work alongside our members to reduce and mitigate the impacts to economic and social development of countries. Ensuring our approach is robust and underpinned by evidence collected through processes such as PDNA is critical for a resilient Pacific”.
The five-day training will bring together 30 participants, 40 percent of whom will be women. The training is focused on empowering Palau Government officials and key stakeholders responsible for undertaking assessments, policy development and implementation of post disaster recovery. Participants work across key sectors including agriculture, housing, education, gender, water and sanitation and health.
The training is organized by the UNDP Enhancing Disaster and Climate Resilience in the Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau through the Improved Disaster Preparedness and Infrastructure project in collaboration with the Pacific Community (SPC) and National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) in Palau.
Zayaan Jappie, Communications Specialist, EDCR, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Tel: +679 322 7565; Email: email@example.com;