Tonga

PREP Technical Team Conducts Consultations with Ha’apai Vulnerable Groups for the establishment of a Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) Policy for Tonga

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19th November 2020 The World Bank Funded Pacific Resilience Program (PREP) Technical Team held consultation workshops with the vulnerable communities of the Pangai, Lifuka and the Foa districts of Ha’apai, on Monday 16th November 2020.

The participants that attended the consultation workshop included youth representatives, elderlies, people with special needs and Town officers.

This consultation session covered a range of important issues such as: (1) Improving weather products for these target audiences, (2) Improving service delivery, (3) Tropical Cyclone (TC) Season 2020-2021 outlook briefing, (4) post-TC Tino impact assessment results, (5) weather and climate related Traditional Knowledge documentation and

(6) collecting the ideas from this diverse pool of participants on their views about the formulation of a National MHEWS Policy for Tonga. These interconnected issues will foster improved resilience and people’s preparations to natural hazards for the safety of their lives.

According to the Director of Meteorology, Ofa Fa’anunu: “The purpose of today’s consultation is aimed at building better resilient based services for the safeguard of lives and property through a proactive approach to invest more in disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction through robust Early Warning Systems and Services around disaster mitigation rather than purely responding to disasters as they happen. Cabinet has also directed that a national MHEWS Policy be consulted upon and submitted to Cabinet as soon as possible. The information received from the participants today will assist us formulate that policy with due consideration of the needs of the vulnerable groups.

*We also need to consult the communities about the current products and services we provide and what we need to improve on. Because we are moving to impact based forecasting under the PREP Project, we need to be consulting direct; with our users to be able to effectively carryout these upgrades. *

It is important that the weather forecasts and warnings are being disseminated in a language where people can understand. The weather forecasts and warnings** should be customized in a manner where it can reference a landmark or places where people are familiar with in their own village. When people understand the potential impacts of the warnings being given, then they will act to ensure that their lives and properties are being protected ready for a cyclone. This workshop is a good way to hear what the people want and to get their feedback on how to better the products that we produce.

The collection of traditional knowledge data is vital to the work of the Multi-Hazard Early Warning System. These knowledges had been used by our ancestors and it is for the Met Office to verify these knowledges so it can be used by the schools and the rest of the people. This is the best backup for the Multi-Hazard Early Warning System, for if everything fails and there is no communication to the remote islands, they can use the verified traditional knowledge for decision making and preparation for upcoming disaster.”

Similar consultation workshops will be implemented by the PREP Technical Team this week with the community of Mounga’one island, Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of Government ministries and District and Town officers.

The workshop was jointly conducted by the Director of Meteorology (Ofa Fa’anunu) and the Deputy Director of Meteorology (Laitia Fifita) at the LDS Hall at Pangai. A total of 40 participants participated in the workshop.

ENDS

For further information: please contact the Meteorology Division on 35355 or metstaff@met.gov.to. More information is also available at www.met.gov.to