Solomon Islands

Disaster recovery that builds resilience recognised by government

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Better preparing Solomon Islanders for future disasters, and building resilience, is an important part of recovery planning, the government has recognised.

Risk-resilient recovery planning is now an official function of the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination (MDPAC), which last month formally integrated a disaster Recovery Coordination Committee (RCC) into its annual plan.

MDPAC, as the Ministry responsible for overall, long-term development planning, is “well-suited to lead the RCC”, according to MDPAC Risk Resilient Development Officer, Jack Filiomea.

“When we plan for recovery, the RCC and our many partners need to consider past and potential climate change and disaster risks, for smart long-term development planning,” Mr Filiomea said.

The multi-sector RCC includes representatives from all relevant ministries and NGOs to ensure recovery and risk-resilient objectives are aligned. The RCC is a function of the National Disaster Council, established to coordinate disaster recovery.

In the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam, Mr Filiomea said several RCC members travelled to Temotu Province to assess the situation. They have been assisting to inform recovery planning in liaison with the Provincial Disaster Management Office, which is coordinating the relief effort. The RCC also developed a long-term recovery plan for the April 2014 flash floods, which has started being implemented.

Mr Filiomea said the RCC works closely with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), which coordinates disaster response and relief efforts, as well as many preparedness activities.

“After the initial emergency and life saving response efforts are completed, under the guidance of NDMO, the RCC will lead recovery planning that builds on the many successes of the response phase,” he said.

“Response and relief efforts definitely contribute to an effective recovery. And if recovery is well planned, incorporating strategies that build resilience and avoid future risks, then communities become better prepared for next time.”

MDPAC and NDMO will continue to work together to build the resilience of Solomon Islanders, with both hoping to see more effective integration of Risk Resilience considerations into routine planning and budgeting for all ministries, according to Mr Filiomea.

The RCC is being supported by the Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP), which is helping Pacific Island Nations manage climate and disaster risk through their governance structures.

“Risk-resilient recovery is about structuring society, from government to community level, so it can better handle any future disasters,” said PRRP Programme Manager Moortaza Jiwanji.

“Effective recovery is about taking a forward-looking approach to addressing the needs of affected populations.”

“This includes physical aspects, like rebuilding buildings, bridges and roads, as well as socio-economic aspects, such as livelihoods recovery and the differing needs of vulnerable groups,” Mr Jiwanji said.

“In our planning, we can help make sure we are prepared to adequately respond to future disasters by incorporating future disaster risks into all recovery activities,” Mr Jiwanji said

The RCC was developed as part of the 2010 National Disaster Recovery Management Plan. MDPAC led the establishment of the RCC earlier last year, just before the April 2014 flash floods, with support from the Pacific Risk Resilience Programme. Just two months later, the RCC was central in developing a Recovery Action Plan for the floods.

The RCC is led by a secretariat, which comprises representatives from MDPAC, who carry out RCC business in addition to their existing roles. The RCC is now advocating for dedicated members from other ministries, to represent specific sectors, such as health and education, and ensure the committee functions even in peaceful periods absent of disasters.

PRRP)is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with international non-government organisation Live and Learn Environmental Education (LLEE), and supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). PRRP is being delivered in four countries: Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

PRRP works with Pacific Island nations and their people to think about the risks they may face from climate change and disasters when they are making their usual plans for development. Communities can become more resilient to climate change and disasters if routine government, community and other planning takes these risks into account.

For more information please contact Jack Filiomea, MDPAC Risk Resilient Development Officer. +677 7598 234. JFilomea@mdpac.gov.sb.