New assessment outlines serious disaster threats for Bougainville

Report
from UN Development Programme
Published on 11 Sep 2017 View Original

Port Moresby, 11 September 2017– A new Disaster Risk Assessment report released recently shows the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) is highly prone to multiple hazards including earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

AROB is one of five provinces and regions featured in the report conducted by a team of experts from the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) and supported by technical specialists from relevant institutions of Papua New Guinea. RIMES is co-owned and operated by Governments in Asia and Africa and helps its members generate and apply early warning disaster information. 

Mr Khusrav Sharifov, UNDP Technical Specialist for Disaster Risk Management said:“This Disaster Risk Assessment shows that the Autonomous Region of Bougainville faces serious risks from multiple hazards.”

“The region’s seismic, tsunami and volcanic hazard are the highest among the five pilot provinces and regions we have assessed, based on various estimates and disaster modelling. This requires serious attention in terms of risk reduction measures to be implemented in Bougainville,” Mr Sharifov said.

The preliminary results of the assessment report indicate that:

  1. If a strong earthquake occurs in Solomon Sea, it may generate a large tsunami that would impact the whole of western side of Bougainville (including Buka Island), with most households living in the south-west of mainland Bougainville considered to be highly vulnerable
  2. Approximately 47,000 households remain vulnerable to earthquakes of different magnitudes, with varying degree of vulnerability
  3. Approximately 61,000 households, mainly residing in Torokina and Arawa districts remain vulnerable to the Bagana volcano.

Mr Sharifov said another serious threat in Bougainville, which has not been covered in this assessment is fire: “Like other regions of the country, fire is a major issue for urban and rural settlements. As Bougainville doesn’t have a fire service, this puts residents in major towns such as Buka and Arawa under threat.”

To prioritise the disaster risks that have been identified for the region, UNDP held a two-day disaster risk reduction planning workshop in Buka from 4-5 September 2017 with the Autonomous Bougainville Government and other development and NGO partners working in the region. Floods have localized impacts throughout Bougainville, but due to lack of data, this hazard requires further assessment on the ground.

Mr Ray Himata, Director of the Bougainville Disaster Office said the workshop was very informative and useful: “We are now aware of these issues that our people are faced with, and have developed risk reduction plans for each specific hazard for Bougainville.”  

While UNDP and other partners have plans to support the province with partial implementation of the risk reduction plans, the most important commitment is now required from relevant authorities and communities to reduce the risks.

Mr Himata said the risk reduction plans include immediate, medium and longer-term measures that need to be addressed: “In order to prevent creation of future risks, we need to increase awareness of the population about the risks. We also need to put these hazard and risk maps into proper use, and make sure that the infrastructure and other projects implemented in Bougainville take into account these hazards.”

The Disaster Risk Assessment is being conducted as part of the ‘Strengthening Disaster Risk Management in Papua New Guinea’ project, which is implemented by the National Disaster Centre and UNDP and largely funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The project provides strategic support to the Government of PNG to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to disasters.

Disaster risk reduction planning and assessment results will also be conducted in four pilot provinces in Central, Western Highlands, Simbu and Madang in September 2017.

Contact information

Serahphina Aupong, UNDP Communications Officer, +675 737 48724, serahphina.aupong@undp.org