Tokelau's resilience journey

Preparedness activities in the Pacific

480 kilometres to the north of Samoa the tiny nation of Tokelau is scattered across three coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. With no airstrip, the only means of accessing the country is via a boat trip to Samoa, a journey that takes a minimum 24 hours during good weather.

“Short- and long-term climate change impacts continue to affect Tokelau through extreme weather conditions, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, salt water intrusion, and rising sea levels,” Said Jewel Tuitama, from Tokelau’s National Disaster Management Office.

She continued: “The main challenges for logistics in Tokelau is its remoteness and isolation, secondary to that is its infrastructure. Tokelau is only accessible by boat and in the event of a disaster or an emergency, these two factors are paramount for an effective response.”

In November 2018, the first Polynesian Logistics Cluster preparedness workshop was held in Tonga. The workshop was built on localisation, collaboration and the cluster approach, providing a platform to share information, build relationships, and enhance coordination across the region’s logistics actors. Driving actions and solutions for Pacific Islands led by Pacific Islanders.

It was at this workshop, that a partnership between Tokelau NDMO and Samoa Red Cross was enhanced. With no Red Cross presence in Tokelau, less than 6 months later, the two representatives from Samoa Red Cross and Tokelau National Disaster Management were able to successfully initiate and implement the first logistics training between the Tokelau National Disaster Management (DMU) Unit under the Ministry of Climate, Oceans and Resilience (MiCORE) and Samoa Red Cross.

“A crucial component of preparedness activities is bringing the Pacific’s logistics responders together, exchanging ideas and using their own expertise and experience to learn from one another,” said Jenna Lusaka, Logistics Coordinator at WFP’s Pacific office which leads the Pacific Logistics Cluster regionally.

“This training was a great outcome from the workshop. It’s what we want to continue to achieve: addressing common challenges, identifying gaps and matching these with really tangible solutions.”

Commissioned by the Government of Tokelau and supported under a partnership with the Government of New Zealand through the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the training brought together Tokelau’s Village Disaster Committees, government and community members to learn more about the role of logistics in emergency preparedness and response.

“Logistics is quite challenging aspect in Tokelau. The training looked at warehousing, fleet management and stock movement, logistics areas that people of Tokelau deal with day by day basis. While the team were carrying out Logistics Training for the three villages in Tokelau, other key areas in disaster response was also addressed such as First Aid training” said Isara, Disaster Management and Emergency Coordinator for the Samoa Red Cross.

“The Logistics Training is very important to build capacity of communities about the specifications of the different relief items. It also encourages positive and effective communication between decision makers, the disaster committee and the first responders,” said Jewel.

Following the training, Jewel is working with Jenna and Pacific Logistics Cluster partners on implementing a logistics preparedness action plan specific to the Tokelau context.

Priorities include a review and update of the village climate, disaster risk reduction, response and resilience plans that will become the basis of the currently reviewed National DR4 Plan, as well as the development of shelters for the three emergency depots across the three villages. Additional logistics capacity building activities are also on the agenda, including training for the ongoing maintenance of the emergency depots.