Prepping for disasters

Disaster response staff from RMI, FSM, Palau, and Kiribati met in Majuro last week.
Disaster response staff from RMI, FSM, Palau, and Kiribati met in Majuro last week.

More than forty emergency response experts met in Majuro last week to identify locally-led solutions to overcome logistics challenges that can hinder disaster response in the North Pacific region. Efficient logistics can make or break a humanitarian response, and the workshop focused on ensuring that when the next emergency strikes, affected islanders can respond quickly and effectively.

The geographical expanse of the North Pacific poses unique challenges of time, transport and distance; Kiribati’s 33 coral atolls and islands alone are scattered over 3.5 million square kilometers (1.3 million square miles). Transport, storage and other logistical elements can account for up to 80 percent of the cost of a humanitarian response, which means effective systems and preparedness are not only vital for effective disaster response, but mean economic savings too.

“Our region’s isolated geography and fragile environment makes it vulnerable to natural disasters, extreme weather and the effects of climate change,” said Timmy Langrine, Director of RMI’s NDMO. “This workshop presents a great opportunity to learn from across the Pacific, and to share not only our common logistics challenges and gaps during disaster preparedness and response, but also our solutions and best practices.”

The Pacific Logistics Cluster sub-regional workshop was convened by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), as lead of the Pacific Logistics Cluster, and the RMI National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). It brought together people from the RMI, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati and Palau.

The five-day event — the first of its kind in the region — included a range of simulation exercises based on a real-life Tsunami emergency scenarios. Additionally, field visits to a local shipping port and storage warehouse gave participants a hands on look at key elements in a disaster response. Participants learned from each other to improve their capacity to respond when disaster strikes.

“This workshop provides an unmatched opportunity to focus on the specific challenges encountered by our North Pacific colleagues, and to support them in developing locally-led solutions,” said Florent Chané, Logistics Coordinator at the WFP Pacific Office.

Read more about this in the April 20, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.