Philippe Boulle IDNDR Rebuilding After Disasters And Wars
SEVENTH SOUTH PACIFIC REGIONAL IDNDR
DISASTER MANAGEMENT MEETING
Record of Meeting
23-25 September 1998
INTERNATIONAL DECADE FOR NATURAL DISASTER REDUCTION
SEVENTH SOUTH PACIFIC REGIONAL IDNDR
DISASTER MANAGEMENT MEETING
TANOA INTERNATIONAL HOTEL
23-25 September 1998
Record of Meeting
Jointly sponsored by the Australian IDNDR Co-ordination Committee, the United
Nations Development Program (UNDP) through the United Nations Disaster
Management Program - South Pacific Office (UNDMP-SPO) and the
Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID),
with support from Emergency Management Australia (EMA) and the
Queensland Department of Emergency Services.
SEVENTH SOUTH PACIFIC REGIONAL IDNDR
DISASTER MANAGEMENT MEETING
RECORD OF MEETING (23-25 SEPTEMBER 1998)
The official opening ceremony for the Seventh South Pacific Regional IDNDR Disaster Management
Meeting was held at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi, Fiji, on the 23 September 1998. Mr. Jone
Bolaitamana, Principal Assistant Secretary of the Fiji Ministry of Regional Development and Multi-Ethnic
Affairs, acted as master of ceremonies and introduced special guests.
Mr. Alan Hodges, Chair of the Australian IDNDR Co-ordination Committee and Director General of
Emergency Management Australia (EMA), have opening comments. He mentioned the special significance
of these Meetings, and reflected on how they show the increasing maturity of disaster management in the
region. He also remarked that it is a privilege for the Australian IDNDR program to be involved, and
hoped to continue that involvement to the end of the International Decade.
Mr. Shahrokh Mohammadi, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Deputy Resident
Representative, Suva, also gave opening comments. He reminded delegates of the genesis of the UN
South Pacific Disaster Reduction Programme (SPDRP) in 1994, and broadly outlined its achievements.
He remarked that the 1998 Terminal Evaluation of the SPDRP had noted its achievements and
recommended that its work needed to continue. He stated that UNDP is committed to supporting the
continuance of SPDRP work.
Mr. Francesco Pisano, Secretary, IDNDR Scientific and Technical Committee, Geneva, delivered the
keynote address for Mr. Philippe Boulle, Director of the Secretariat for the IDNDR, Geneva. He referred
to the IDNDR success in promoting a global recognition that vulnerability reduction is possible, and that
there was a large amount of work involved in achieving this. He spoke of the need to continue IDNDR
initiatives beyond the Decade. He also stated that the UN is currently looking closely at measures to
assess the progress of the IDNDR and to consolidate its achievements.
The late Hon. Mesake E. Baisagale, Fiji’s Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Multi-Ethnic
Affairs, officially opened the Meeting. He stated that the IDNDR brought new dimensions to disaster
management concepts in Fiji, and gave particular emphasis to the importance of training. He also
mentioned that Fiji, like other countries of the region, still needed technical assistance and funding in its
disaster management development efforts. The Minister also described the dimensions of the tragedy in Fiji
caused by the current drought.
SESSION ONE CONFERENCE FORMALITIES
1.1 Appointment of Chairperson
The outgoing Chair from the Sixth South Pacific Regional IDNDR Disaster Management Meeting, Mr.
Alan Hodges of Australia, called the Meeting to order and asked for nominations for a new chairperson.
The Meeting invited Mr. Josefa Serulagilagi (Permanent Secretary of the Fiji Ministry of Regional
Development and Multi-Ethnic Affairs) as chairperson. Mr. Serulagilagi thanked the outgoing Chair, on
behalf of the Meeting, for his efforts in chairing the previous Meeting.
1.2 Review of Recommendations and Action from the 1997 Meeting Report
The Chair invited Mr. Phil Stenchion of EMA to assist the Meeting in reviewing the Sixth IDNDR Meeting
recommendations. The recommendations were reviewed as follows:
1. The Meeting agreed to amend the Regional Disaster Management Sub-Committee’s TOR and
requested that SOPAC work with the Sub-Committee on how SOPAC could undertake its co-
The Director of SOPAC, Mr. Alf Simpson, informed delegates that this had been actioned and that the
results would become clear during the Meeting, as SOPAC will outline its disaster management mandate.
2. The Meeting agreed on the need to establish a close working relationship between the
Regional IDNDR Meeting and the SOPAC Governing Council, possibly as a Technical
Advisory Group, and to co-ordinate timing of meetings and representation.
Mr. Simpson informed delegates that this issue would also be discussed later during the Meeting.
3. The Meeting passed a resolution for submission to the SOPAC Governing Council Meeting on
the regional co-ordination of disaster management activities, noting comments outlined in the
Mr. Simpson informed delegates that this issue would also be discussed later during the Meeting.
4. The Meeting endorsed in principle the four components of the SPDRP project document as
broad priorities identified by member countries for advice to donors, noting amendments,
guiding principles for implementation, and unresolved issues as outlined in the Meeting
Mr. Joseph Chung, Chief Technical Advisor for the SPDRP, informed delegates that the Proposal for a
Long-Term Disaster Management Framework for the South Pacific Region and country priorities had been
used in designing SPDRP-Phase II.
5. The Meeting agreed that each country would provide a list of priorities to UNDHA-SPPO to
assist in the revision of the project document, recognising that countries have their own
Mr. Chung informed delegates that this had been actioned.
6. The Meeting agreed that UNDHA-SPPO would co-ordinate redrafting of the project
document for submission to UNDP and other donors by the end of October 1997, noting
comments in the Meeting report.
Mr. Chung informed delegates that this had been actioned.
7. The Meeting agreed to invite the Prime Minister of Tuvalu to act as chief advocate and that
UNDHA-SPPO could establish administrative arrangements to support the Prime Minister in
Mr. Chung informed delegates that this is still to be actioned.
8. The Meeting agreed that a regional co-ordination unit could play an important role in
disseminating information on dates and agenda of relevant meetings where formal channels
This recommendation required no action.
9. The Meeting endorsed the proposed area of emphasis and consultant’s recommendations for
Disaster Management Information Systems in the South Pacific region.
This recommendation required no action.
10. The Meeting endorsed recommendations that countries undertake program management skills
training and appealed to donors to fund this training as a protection of their investment in the
Ms. Joanne Burke, Field Adviser for USAID/OFDA, informed delegates that this had not yet proceeded,
and that there is now some doubt of the need.
11. The Meeting agreed that a forum for NDMOs be held to facilitate input to SPDRP-Phase II.
Mr. Chung informed delegates that NDMOs had provided sufficient input to the SPDRP-Phase II since the
12. The Meeting agreed that PIC delegates report back to their respective countries on concerns
about the future of the program if funding was to be available due to SOPAC's involvement.
Delegates were informed that the events of the last year had removed these concerns.
13. The Meeting proposed that in future years a drafting committee be set up to facilitate the
drafting of a summary record for tabling before the close of the Meeting.
Mr. Russell Howorth of SOPAC outlined for delegates the arrangements for producing a summary record
and invited delegates to contribute to the arrangements if they felt it necessary. Delegates were satisfied
that the outlined arrangements would meet the requirement.
14. The Meeting accepted the Samoan representative’s offer to host the Seventh IDNDR Meeting
pending formal approval from Cabinet and the Fiji representative’s offer of Fiji as an
This recommendation required no further action.
1.3 Adoption of the 1997 Meeting Report
The Meeting agreed that the report, as circulated, was an accurate record of the Sixth South Pacific
Regional IDNDR Disaster Management Meeting.
1.4 Introduction and Adoption of 1998 Meeting Agenda
Mr. Atu Kaloumaira of the SPDRP introduced the meeting agenda and outlined its’ structure. The Meeting
agreed to the agenda.
SESSION TWO PRESENTATIONS BY SPDRP PARTNER ORGANISATIONS
2.1 Presentation by Mr. Alf Simpson, Director, SOPAC
Mr. Simpson made a presentation on the future of SPDRP within SOPAC. He commented that he was
hopeful that his remarks would allay any concerns held by delegates over the new arrangements for
SPDRP-Phase II. He noted that disaster management is only one of ten focus areas within SOPAC,
although a key area. He remarked that the next few months or more would be a transition period as the
transfer arrangements were further developed. He discussed the possible future role of meetings such as
the current Regional IDNDR Meetings once the Decade had finished, and outlined the useful role that
Technical Advisory Groups (TAG) played within SOPAC.
Mr. Simpson invited delegates to consider by the end of the Meeting whether they saw these meetings
becoming a TAG, adding that he believed there would be a continuing need for such meetings beyond
2000. General discussion showed support for continuing opportunities for NDMOs to meet at the regional
level. The Chair suggested delegates to consider the matter in detail during later working sessions.
The Meeting agreed to the Chair’s suggestion.
2.2 Presentation by Mr. John Davidson, Counsellor, Australian High Commission,
Mr. Davidson made a presentation on the AusAID perspective on partnerships with donor agencies. He
informed delegates that since the last IDNDR meeting, AusAID had conducted a review of its methods of
supporting disaster management activities in the region to see where AusAID could add value, and what
might be the most effective way. He emphasised that the review was of AusAID program methods, not of
disaster management programs themselves, and that AusAID was focused on building partnerships in its
He outlined the TOR for the review and some of the key recommendations. He stated that AusAID would
in future provide funding for disaster management activities through the Disaster Reduction Unit (DRU) of
SOPAC. He further stated that AusAID fully supports SOPAC’s disaster management mandate.
Administrative management of AusAID disaster management programs will be transferred from Canberra
to AusAID in Suva, in order to improve AusAID assistance. AusAID will approach regional partners such
as FRANZ and the UN to establish an effective monitoring mechanism.
The Meeting endorsed AusAID’s planned changes to its disaster management programs.
2.3 Presentation by Ms. Isabel Calvert, First Secretary, New Zealand High
The representative from New Zealand, Ms. Isabel Calvert, sent her apologies for not being able to attend
the Meeting. However her presentation on “New Zealand's Priorities in Disaster Mitigation” was tabled at
She outlined the range of measures in the area of disaster management that currently existed under
NZODA. These included emergency and disaster relief funds, disaster mitigation support and direct
support to SOPAC and the SPDRP.
She advised that New Zealand had supported the South Pacific Disaster Reduction Program over the past
four years and intends to continue doing so throughout Phase II of the project. For the future however, one
of New Zealand’s concerns was to ensure that the most efficient and effective service be offered to the
region in disaster management – from preparedness to mitigation and relief.
SESSION THREE SPDRP OVERVIEW AND COUNTRY PRESENTATIONS
3.1 Implementation Overview on SPDRP-Phase II and the 1999 Work Program
Ms. Angelika Planitz of the SPDRP made a presentation outlining SPDRP-Phase II objectives, current
activities, and work program and budget for 1999. The presentation described the major implementation
emphasis for the second phase program. These are:
- assisting in the development of nationally implemented disaster management programs which provide a
comprehensive picture of all in-country activities;
- introducing a monitoring system for better accountability and response to ongoing needs of PICs;
- establishing a network of collaboration which broadens the support base for national programs; and
- redirecting disaster management activities towards the community level.
Following this, the 1999 proposed activities and budget were briefly presented and delegates were asked
to review these for adoption by Friday morning so they can be put to the SOPAC Governing Council for
final approval. In general discussion delegates were informed that the program was formulated from the
needs identified in the SPDRP-Phase I Terminal Evaluation and from discussions with national working
The Meeting agreed to consider approval of the program later in the Meeting after all other issues had been
discussed and resolved.
3.2 Briefings on National Programs and Implementation Strategies
The heads of National Disaster Management Offices, emphasising this year's meeting theme of Partnership
in National Disaster Management Programming, introduced NGO representatives from their countries
before presenting their national programs and strategies. Briefings were given by delegates from the Cook
Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands,
Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. Each country provided details on current and planned activities and identified
constraints and needs for assistance.
The briefings raised a number of issues relevant to the status of disaster management within the region.
There has been noteworthy progress in many countries in recent years. However, the progress in some
countries is less distinct, as was identified in the Terminal Evaluation of the SPDRP-Phase I. An increasing
focus on strengthening partnerships has been evident and showed first successes. Development issues,
such as food security, have now been integrated into mainstream disaster management concepts. All
country papers that were provided to the meeting organisers are attached in the Annex.
SESSION FOUR AGENCY PERSPECTIVES ON PARTNERSHIP IN
NATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT PROGRAMMING
A series of presentations were made by regional non-governmental organisations on effective outreaching
to the community level and partnership with government.
4.1 Pacific Island Association of NGOs (PIANGO)
Mr. Robert Mister, Project Manager, Overseas Service Bureau (OSB) provided a PIANGO perspective.
He outlined the role of PIANGO in linking disaster management activities of NGOs and government. He
stated that the earlier AusAID-funded NGO Disaster Preparedness Training Program had strengthened
NGO capacities, increased disaster management awareness, promoted local-level mitigation activities,
increased government recognition of the roles of NGOs in disaster management, and improved co-
ordination and co-operation between government and NGOs. He emphasised the need for governments
to recognise the unique characteristics of NGOs in developing working relationships. He also emphasised
that successful government/NGO partnerships are more important than ever, given the increasing focus on
disaster management at the community level.
In discussion Mr. Chung reinforced the importance of NGOs to regional and country programs, and asked
delegates and their accompanying NGO representatives to hold discussions with his staff before the end of
the Meeting to refine the SPDRP work program.
4.2 Foundation for the People of the South Pacific (FSP)
Ms. Kathy Fry, Regional Manager, Foundation for the People of the South Pacific International (FSPI)
provided an FSP perspective. She outlined FSP's organisation and identified the partnerships involved, as
well as the project sectors and focus areas. A case study of FSP's involvement in Tropical Cyclone Namu
(1985) illustrated the many practical ways NGOs can assist governments during response and recovery
activities. Such NGO assistance also lends itself to similar involvement during preparedness activities.
4.3 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
Mr. Alan Bradbury, Regional Disaster Preparedness Delegate of the International Federation of the Red
Cross (IFRC) provided an IFRC perspective. He emphasised that the greatest strength of the Red Cross
is its volunteer base through wide networks at local levels. He stated the Red Cross “golden rule” that the
responsibility for disaster management lies with government, while Red Cross would provide auxiliary
support to government efforts within the limits of its seven principles. He described the Red Cross
community-based self-reliance program, of which disaster management is a part. He suggested a number
of ways, most already being practised in the region, in which National Red Cross Societies could provide
assistance to NDMO efforts, as well as ways in which NDMOs could assist the Red Cross to provide
better assistance in disaster management.
Some lively discussion on the interpretation of the “golden rule” ensued, with the Solomon Islands NGO
representative questioning the absolute primacy of government in disaster management.
End of Day One
Mr. Stenchion provided a short overview of the day’s discussions and undertook to provide delegates with
a more detailed summary before the Session Four reconvenes on Day Two. The Chair thanked delegates
and presenters for their contributions.
4.4 Emergency Management Australia
Mr. Alan Hodges provided a perspective on EMA involvement in disaster management activities in the
region. He emphasised that EMA sees disaster management as core business and one of three key
outcomes in the current EMA corporate plan. EMA philosophy for the last few years has been to provide
a range of assistance to country-endorsed programs under the SPDRP umbrella, with funding from
AusAID under a Record of Understanding. Mr. Hodges also outlined the contributions made by the
Australian IDNDR Co-ordinating Committee, and emphasised that the Australian IDNDR Strategic Plan
had identified the South Pacific as a high priority region. As to the future, EMA will continue to provide the
same type of support, in partnership with other service providers, ultimately aiming at achieving a transfer of
skills and knowledge. Mr. Hodges identified some examples of the type of training assistance EMA might
provide within the SPDRP work plan, and restated the need for external funding for EMA overseas work.
In general discussion Mr. Brown of Cook Islands thanked Mr. Hodges for EMA support in the past and
referred to the usefulness of EMA’s Information Centre. He also stressed the importance of external
assistance being delivered by people who are familiar with the region and accepted by the countries. Mr.
Simpson referred to a meeting between SOPAC and EMA earlier this year, supporting the partnership
approach of both organisations.
4.5 USAID - Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
Ms. Joanne Burke provided an overview of the development of training activities within the SPDRP-Phase
I, the OFDA partnership with UNDHA-SPPO and more recently EMA, and outlined the way ahead. She
informed delegates that much of her remarks were from the SPDRP training component's perspective
rather than OFDA. She summarised the SPDRP -Phase I training achievements, noting that these did not
include the training conducted within other components. She highlighted that the goal throughout had been
and will be to achieve self-sufficiency through partnerships and the institutionalising of disaster management
training. For the way ahead she identified four priority areas for the period 1999-2001: (1) establishment
of a Regional Training Co-ordination Unit, (2) the continuation of the Regional Training Advisory Group,
(3) curriculum development of priority courses identified by countries, and (4) in-country training. She
discussed the major issues to be resolved, the constraints, and possible methodologies. OFDA financial
support for training will continue to the end of 1999, and Ms. Burke outlined how this support will be
In response to questions in general discussion Ms. Burke highlighted that decisions on priorities belonged to
individual countries but that assistance for the identification of those priorities will be available. By the end
of SPDRP-Phase II, it is hoped to overcome the level of current assistance and reach a level of
maintenance support. Mr. Tuifagalele of Fiji stressed, in the interests of consistency and ease of adaptation
of materials, the need for training assistance from other providers to take the same approach as throughout
4.6 Academically Accredited Courses in Disaster Management
Mr. Tony Madigan of Community Safety Training and Consultancies provided an overview on how
professional recognition of disaster management training could be achieved in the region. He presented to
the Meeting the findings of a study, that resulted from an Australian IDNDR project. He outlined the
advantages of such recognition, illustrated current developments in Australia as an example, and suggested
that the region could take advantage of Australian initiatives. He explained a sample framework to suggest
how accreditation could look in the future, using core and elective example subjects, and emphasised that
recognition of prior learning would be essential. EMA undertook to ensure that results from Mr.
Madigan’s work would be passed to the Regional Training Co-ordination Unit.
In general discussion the Hon. Dr. Narsey Warden re-iterated the importance of regional ownership of
training, and suggested delegates could consider making full use of existing training institutions within
countries for disaster management training.
4.7 The Pacific Coastal Communities Project
Mr. Graham Shorten, Coastal Engineering Geologist of SOPAC outlined the work being undertaken in the
Pacific Cities Project, which ties together a range of hazard-related projects and applies GIS technology to
the results. He stressed that the project does not consider hazards in isolation, but addresses vulnerabilities
as well. He then provided an overview of the proposed Pacific Coastal Communities Project, which
intends to assess the risk to coastal communities by applying GIS technology to results. He raised the issue
of ensuring that scientific response to disasters needs to be planned as other aspects of disaster response.
He also stressed that as evidence of partnership possibilities, linkages to the SPDPR-Phase II community
work would be sought. He identified expected outputs of the project and provided examples of how they
could contribute to disaster management, especially in developing public education and awareness
4.8 Media and the Community
Mr. Ian Rolls of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) provided an overview of the work SPC is
currently undertaking in collaboration with the EU funded Tropical Cyclone Warning Upgrade Project and
the SPDRP in the area of public education and awareness program development. He described the
capacities of the Regional Media Centre and its Graphic Arts Unit. Under consultancy arrangements,
specific materials will be produced for each country and introduced within the region where appropriate.
Follow-up activities will be identified as appropriate.
4.9 Information Technology and Exchange
Ms. Ellen Lynch from the Centre of Excellence in Hawaii, outlined the Centre’s disaster management-
related work. She explained that the Centre was attending this Meeting as a result of partnership
discussions held with Mr. Chung of the SPDRP and that she was impressed with the level of disaster
management development in the region. Ms. Lynch illustrated that the Centre has many affiliations and
partnerships, and operates as the “glue” when any of these are working in a disaster management related
field. She outlined the Centre’s operating principles, accomplishments, and current activities, stressing the
particular expertise in civil-military collaboration. She provided a number of examples on how the Centre
could link with disaster management work in the region, adding that the Centre would only act in a way
complementary to other programs.
4.10 Web Site for Disaster Information
Mr. Peter Saville of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community demonstrated to delegates an example of a
web- site which could be used as an information access and exchange medium.
4.11 Development of Disaster Management Information System
Mr. Les Allinson and Mr. Zaid Ali provided an overview of current SOPAC work in assisting the SPDRP
to implement the recommendations of the Sixth Regional IDNDR Meeting on information t chnology. e
Three main activities were either completed or planned: a workshop in Cook Islands on remote sensing
and GIS (completed), a similar workshop for Niue (planned), and work to upgrade information technology
in the SPDRP office (underway). The workshop concept can be applied to other countries. The SPDRP
office is being brought into the SOPAC information system, which will significantly enhance its information
4.12 GIS and Remote Sensing Applied in Disaster Management
Mr. Wolf Forstreuter of SOPAC presented possible applications of GIS and remote sensing technology.
He illustrated in a case study on floods how the sensible application of the technology, with science and
disaster management working together, could provide more accurate flood warnings and contribute to
development and mitigation decisions. He explained some of the technology available, and how SOPAC
currently assists in its application.
4.13 Upgrading Tropical Cyclone Warning Systems
Mr. Neville Koop, Project Co-ordinator of the Tropical Cyclone Warning Upgrade Project, briefed
delegates on the European Union (EU) funded project which is currently halfway through its four-year
term. He stated that the commitment of the EU is a significant investment in the region. He also explained
that in the interest of successful partnerships it is planned to bring the project under the SOPAC umbrella.
Mr. Koop outlined the underlying philosophy of the project that a warning system not only involves
meteorological technology, but also disaster managers and the community. The project, therefore,
concentrates on strengthening the partnership between weather services and disaster management and,
through the SPDRP, is developing public education and awareness initiatives.
Prior to the Regional IDNDR Meeting the project conducted its Annual Meeting of Disaster Managers and
Meteorologists, which produced a list of recommendations. Mr. Koop tabled the recommendations as an
input to this Meeting's deliberations (see Annex).
4.14 Water Resources Management
Mr. David Scott of SOPAC presented an overview of the possible impacts of climate change on Pacific
communities. He highlighted the reactions to the 1997/98 El Nino event, which raised key questions. His
presentation provided a variety of perspectives on drought from different sectors and interest points. Mr.
Scott also discussed the linkages of climate change and drought, demonstrating that the issues of
precipitation levels, water resources, and drought effects on vulnerable communities all had overall
management implications. He showed that drought impacts could be analysed from either a precipitation or
effects viewpoint. He further suggested that potential consequences could be reduced by adopting coping
strategies as well as by adapting to consequences. He also provided a brief case study on water resources
in Rarotonga (Cook Islands) to illustrate how SOPAC is assisting in water resource management. This
particular project had identified some short-term management options, as well as information needs for
similar studies to be conducted.
SESSION FIVE COMMENTS BY OBSERVERS
5.1 Mr. Kazuhiro Kitazawa of JAMSTEC asked what delegates saw as their particular hazard focus,
and why the deliberations so far seemed to concentrate on response issues at the expense of other
aspects of disaster management. Mr Brown of Cook Islands explained that, on the contrary, the
major focus over recent years had been on IDNDR ideals and objectives. While ensuring that
response measures were addressed, countries had put a major effort into the establishment of
programs, which dealt with prevention and mitigation aspects of disaster management. He also
emphasised that countries of the region, under SPDRP guidance, had taken an all hazards,
comprehensive, and integrated approach to disaster management.
5.2 Mr. Shane Cronin of Massey University asked whether the managers of the SOPAC cities and
coastal communities projects had considered how the results of such expensive research would
contribute to vulnerability reduction through useful application. Mr Shorten replied that this issue
had not been ignored and acknowledged that it needed more attention. He further commented that
bringing regional disaster management co-ordination under the SOPAC umbrella would not only
add value to the work of SPDRP, but also show hazard researchers how their results will be
applied in vulnerability reduction, thus providing more impetus to useful research.
5.3 Mr. Neville Koop of the Tropical Cyclone Warning Upgrade Project commented that the phrase
“El Nino” was becoming more widely used, but that the understanding of the El Nino effects, and
how they can vary by location, was not as widespread. He suggested that disaster management
related activities in the region could include an effort to explain the complexities of El Nino, and that
the Meeting could consider a formal statement to that effect. Mr. Scott of SOPAC supported this
suggestion, adding that El Nino potential effects should be explained to a wider audience than
disaster managers wherever practical.
5.4 Mr. Douglas Allen of the American Red Cross thanked the Meeting convenors for allowing him to
attend. He informed delegates and observers of his knowledge of similar IDNDR initiatives in
developing countries and regions in other parts of the world, and stressed that as a neutral observer
he was impressed by this region for its obvious progress and achievements in accordance with
IDNDR goals. He added that he particularly admired the Meeting’s focus on partnerships between
science, governments, mainstream disaster management, and NGOs. He wished delegates
continued success in the future.
SESSION SIX PARTNERSHIPS IN NATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT
PROGRAMS - THEME SPEAKERS
6.1 Principles and Applications to Consolidating Mutual Assistance in Disaster
Management within the Pacific
Mr. John Campbell, Head of the Geography Department of Waikato University, New Zealand provided
an interpretation of the subject. The idea of mutual assistance in disaster reduction roots in the objective to
reduce dependency among vulnerable “entities” such as people, groups, economic sectors and countries.
Numerous traditional disaster management systems existed in the past, and many relied on mutual
assistance practised in a variety of spatial scales. Some of these practices still remain (some in modified
form) while others have fallen into disuse. New systems of mutual assistance (e.g. remittances) have also
emerged. Mr. Campbell’s presentation outlined the types of mutual assistance (from financial through to
intellectual), possible focus areas (from relief to disaster management planning) and scales (from inter-
personal to relationships between the region and the international community).
Mr Campbell examined these contexts in terms of their appropriateness and applicability to countries of the
region. He argued that while the notion of mutual assistance finds considerable approval in international
organisations and among NGOs, there are numerous constraints to achieving workable, practicable and
beneficial outcomes through mutual assistance. He reminded delegates that disaster vulnerability cannot be
treated in isolation from the ongoing social and economic processes of change confronting most Pacific
communities. He stressed, that activities to promote mutual assistance in disaster reduction are unlikely to
succeed unless a broader commitment to co-operation is achieved.
6.2 Politics, Policies and Practicalities of Developing Partnerships within Pacific
Hon. Dr. Wadan Narsey from Fiji provided his perspective of the subject. Dr. Narsey prefaced his
presentation by commenting that the deliberations of the Meeting had indicated to him that delegates were
seeking an ideal in disaster management, that this ideal may not be easily achieved, and that delegates must
appreciate the realities under which they operated. He referred to earlier Meeting discussions on the
primacy of government responsibility in disaster management and suggested that delegates consider
approaching disaster management with a view to ensuring that disaster management responsibilities were
allocated to those organisations best suited to carrying them out effectively, government or otherwise, and
that partnerships using this approach had the best chance of achieving the goal of alleviation of suffering.
He further suggested that delegates try to convince all governments that the provision of disaster
management services is little different from the provision of any other community service, regardless of
funding sources, and need not be automatically considered as government business, while accepting that
ultimately government is always responsible to the people it governs.
The current drought in Fiji is presenting the country with a dimension and complexity of problems not seen
since at least one hundred years. Dr. Narsey chose the sugar industry in Fiji as an example of how
response to a creeping and insidious disaster can be managed well or not well at all. The direct effects
within the industry have cost 150 million Fiji dollars so far, with more than 50,000 households in need of
emergency food and water relief. Crop rehabilitation costs are expected to be unprecedented. The vast
majority of affected farmers are those le ast able to cope because of vulnerabilities existing before the
Consequential effects of the drought are still to be appreciated and extend over many sections of the
community in ways not immediately obvious. As an example, schools are closing because children have no
bus fare, and are unable to be provided with lunches. Farm labourers have generally not been considered
in calculations of those directly affected. NGOs and their potential for effective assistance appear to have
been marginalised due to a lack of appreciation of the extent of the drought effects and where NGOs can
assist. The Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) is an example of an existing network of potential
avenues for assistance that is underused in these circumstances.
Dr. Narsey believes that the involvement of international donors, governments and others, has not been as
effective as it might have been in this drought. The processes and realities of formal government do not
always lend themselves to fast and effective reaction, despite the best of intentions, and often the public and
donor perception of government reaction to circumstances does not reflect the realities of government
processes. In particular, NGOs can use their independence to react swiftly, while authorities must wait for
elected representatives to reach consensus. Such differences will inevitably create problems for co-
ordinated and partnered responses, and are best addressed by an appreciation, in preparedness, of the
differences in capacities to react.
Dr. Narsey showed that civil servants may not always have the same perspective as others by using the
example of payments to affected farmers. Payments are made from a fund which will be reimbursed by all
farmers, therefore a decision was made that all farmers will receive payment. This is despite the fact that
some farmers are relatively unaffected and gaining record crop prices, and others are severely affected.
In conclusion, Dr. Narsey stressed that in Fiji’s current situation more consensus w needed between
elected representatives, NGOs, affected communities, and donors. He believes that a frank and open
exchange of views and ideas might resolve how response to the drought could be enhanced and
appropriate responsibilities for action be allocated. He accepts that all parties have their own perspectives
and that these need to be considered and appreciated.
SESSION SEVEN WORKING GROUP DISCUSSIONS ON THE PARTNERSHIP
All Meeting participants, delegates and observers were divided into four working groups to discuss aspects
of partnership in national disaster management programming. The results from group discussions were
presented to the plenary as follows.
7.1 In-Country Partnerships
Group I was asked to discuss the type and nature of relationships NDMO maintain or should maintain with
various organisations at the national level (government and non-government organisations) as well as the
community level (community-based organisations and non-government organisations).
Mr. Faasala Casper from Development Service Exchange in the Solomon Islands presented the results of
Group I. The Group identified a number of organisations and sectors with varying responsibilities in
disaster management, determined whether they had responsibilities in pre- or post-impact scenarios, and
then determined whether the circumstances needed a full partnership, a relationship, or regular contact with
the National Disaster Management Office to allow responsibilities to be fulfilled effectively. The results
were displayed in a matrix:
Org/Sector Pre- Post- Partnership Relations Contact
Police/Defence Yes Yes Yes
Agriculture Yes Yes Yes
Marine Yes Yes Yes
Health Yes Yes Yes
Works Yes Yes Yes
Planning Yes Yes Yes
Finance Yes Yes Yes
Transport Yes Yes Yes
Education Yes Yes Yes
Aviation Yes Yes Yes
Meteorology Services Yes Yes Yes
Minerals Yes Yes Yes
Foreign Affairs Yes Yes Yes
Telecom Yes Yes Yes
Government Media Yes Yes Yes
Red Cross Yes Yes Yes
Local NGO Yes Yes Yes
Umbrella NGO Yes Yes Yes
International NGO Yes Yes Yes
Village Councils Yes Yes Yes
Womens Groups Yes Yes
Church Groups Yes Yes
School Groups Yes Yes
Youth Groups Yes Yes
Family Groups Yes Yes Yes
Social Groups Yes Yes
Trading Companies Yes Yes
Retail Stores Yes Yes
Engineering/ Yes Yes
Manufacturing Firms Yes Yes
Banks Yes Yes Yes
Private Media Yes Yes Yes
Private Utilities Yes Yes Yes
Private Health Yes Yes
Private Transport Yes Yes
The Group made a particular comment that there is a need to strengthen the relationship of local and
umbrella NGOs with the NDMO. They also commented that village councils, school groups, and family
groups form a vital link between communities and the NDMO in remote localities.
The group provided a series of recommendations on in-country partnerships (see Recommendations), and
stated that these were aimed at meeting the problems of duplication and/or gaps in effective disaster
7.2 Partnerships with Donors
Group II was asked to reflect on the partnership of NDMOs with donors. Since financial support for
disaster management from Pacific island governments is still limited and outside technical assistance time
bound, it is necessary for NDMOs to maintain strong donor links, in order to be able to fill these gaps until
such time that government commitment is increasing.
Ms. Niki Rattle, Secretary General of the Cook Islands Red Cross Society, presented the results of Group
II. The Group agreed that each country would in some way deal differently with this issue. The Group
concluded that there are varying degrees of trust between donors and countries. The need for
accountability and continuous dialogue was stressed. The NDMO as a focal point for donors was
important in avoiding duplication and/or gaps. Effective long-term strategic plans for disaster management
development would ease donor concerns. Proper needs assessments in response were vital in securing
donor assistance. The group provided examples of bilateral, multilateral and other donors, recognising that
different donors had particular interests in particular sectors (e.g. pre- and post-impact disaster
management), and that these interests could vary from country to country. The Group encouraged
NDMOs to compile a list of these interests in each country to assist in meeting donor needs, and reminded
the Meeting that the general public are also donors in response. The Group encouraged national
governments to show more commitment to NDMOs in order to facilitate donor support. The Group
provided a recommendation on this issue (see Recommendations).
7.3 Partnership with Technical Assistance Programs
Group III was asked to discuss partnership aspects with technical assistance providers. The main issues to
be raised were, how can NDMOs access assistance from various programs and how could these be
Mr. Barton Bisiwei from VANGO in Vanuatu presented the results of Group III. The Group considered
that an important consideration is the future of the Regional IDNDR Meetings after the Decade. They
believed the annual forum for disaster managers, where various technical assistance programs had been
linked into disaster management, needed to continue in a similar fashion. They also concluded that there
was an urgent need to circulate an explanation of how the SPDRP would operate under the SOPAC
umbrella, and what changes, if any, these arrangements would bring to national disaster management
program development methodology.
The Group also considered that the recent experience of the tsunami in Papua New Guinea highlighted a
need for scientific response to become an integral part of disaster management, and that a plan for co-
ordinating scientific response should be developed. Such a plan would:
• recognise the importance of collecting data on the event and its impact as soon as possible after the
event so that critical information is not lost;
• recognise the value of scientific data to the mitigation process;
• help co-ordinate response and guarantee return of scientific information to the impacted community;
• minimise competition between diverse research interests, establish funding priority as part of donor
• reinforce SOPAC’s disaster management role by linking it closely to its scientific program.
The Group presented recommendations from its deliberations (see Recommendations).
7.4 Mutual Assistance within the Region
Group IV was asked to discuss the issue of mutual assistance within the South Pacific region in terms of its
constraints and advantages, implementation arrangements and priority areas.
Mr. Sakaria Taituave, Director of the NDMO Samoa, presented the results of Group IV. The Group
believed that to date there had been an increasing use of expertise and information on a mutual basis, but
that this could be enhanced as the region's expertise and knowledge increase. The Group considered that
this could be done in a number of ways, but that formal arrangements should be made. They suggested
that each country assess its resources, skills and expertise, provide details of these to other countries, and
provide them upon request. The Group provided a series of recommendations on the suggested
In general discussion Mr. Alan Hodges of EMA Australia referred to a process currently underway in
Australia to allow mutual assistance between States to occur, and suggested that the model may provide
some guidance for developing the process in the region.
7.5 Summary of Recommendations
Mr. Chung advised delegates that a number of recommendations had been produced during the Meeting,
especially from the working groups. Some of these overlapped, or addressed a common issue from
different directions. He suggested that the recommendations needed to be rationalised and targeted to
specific organisations. In general discussion the Meeting agreed that team selected from delegates gather in
Suva after the Meeting to produce a consolidated and rationalised list of recommendations for forwarding
to specific organisations.
SESSION EIGHT APPROVAL OF SPDRP WORK PLAN AND BUDGET
The Chair called for endorsement of the SPDRP 1998-99 Work Plan and Budget, reminding delegates
that the SOPAC Governing Council was to meet the following week, and asked for any discussion.
In general discussion some delegates stated they were unsure if the program covered all activities being
undertaken, and had some uncertainty over the arrangements for implementation. Mr. Chung of SPDRP
and Mr. Simpson of SOPAC provided explanations, which showed that:
• the transition period to complete the transfer of the SPDRP to SOPAC would not always make
arrangements ideal and patience is required;
• the SPDRP 1998-1999 work plan and budget had been developed over a period of nine months of
discussion with individual countries based on their needs and priorities;
• the work plan reflects priority areas of countries compiled on a regional basis and within the resources
available to SPDRP;
• individual country programs contain more activities than those shown on the SPDPR program; and
• countries could and should pursue other avenues of assistance for those additional activities.
The Chair provided a brief summary of the Meeting, noting the agreed arrangements for rationalising and
producing recommendations. He then called for offers to host the next Meeting.
Mr. Alonzo Kyota, Director of the NDMO Palau, nominated Samoa as the next Meeting location. Mr.
Sakaria Taituave, in response, offered Samoa as host of the Eighth South Pacific Regional IDNDR
Disaster Management Meeting, subject to approval by the Samoan Cabinet. The Meeting agreed to
Samoa’s offer. Timings, invitees and administrative arrangements will be advised in due course.
The Chair invited closing remarks.
The Samoan representative, Mr. Sakaria Taituave, asked Mr. Francesco Pisano, Secretary of the IDNDR
Scientific Technical Committee, whether the region would be invited to attend the closing ceremony to
mark the end of IDNDR. Mr. Pisano thanked the various NDMOs, NGOs, IDNDR staff from Australia
and Geneva, as well as the SPDRP and SOPAC for their participation and assistance during the meeting.
He emphasised the need for the meeting to move forward to continue its mark on disaster management
Mr. Taituave spoke on behalf of the country delegates and thanked the outgoing Chair, Mr. Alan Hodges,
the delegates, the IDNDR Secretariat, organisers and resource persons for co-ordinating the meeting and
said they were looking forward to next year’s meeting.
Mr. Alan Hodges expressed his appreciation for the group dynamics for the duration of the meeting. He
particularly thanked the Chief Technical Adviser of the SPDRP, Mr. Joe Chung, and his team, the
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Regional Development, Mr. Joe Serulagilagi, and the Fiji
government for hosting this year’s meeting.
Mr. Pisano thanked the Chair and delegates for the manner in which the meeting was conducted. He added
that he would be taking copie s of the country reports back with him to collate the information into the
IDNDR report currently being prepared for the closing of the IDNDR. He stressed that although a phase
would come to an end for the IDNDR, this would provide a way forward for its focal points. All efforts will
be made to set aside funds to accommodate Pacific island delegates attending the closing ceremony next
year in Geneva.
The Meeting co-ordinator, Mr. Joe Chung, stressed the importance of partnership at the national level and
also thanked delegates, donors, observers, theme speakers and resource persons. He also thanked the
Australian IDNDR Committee, the rapporteur and the Secretariat staff.
Mr. Jone Bolaitamana of Fiji closed the meeting with a prayer.
7TH REGIONAL IDNDR DISASTER MANAGEMENT MEETING
The Meeting agreed the following recommendations:
To the SOPAC Governing Council
1. That the Council notes that the DRU Work Programme and Budget for 1999 which is reported in
the attached document "South Pacific Disaster Reduction Programme: 1999 Work Programme and
Budget", was endorsed by the delegates to the 7 th Regional IDNDR Disaster Management Meeting.
The delegates commended this work programme and budget to the Council for its approval.
2. That the Council approves a change in name from Disaster Reduction Unit (DRU) to Disaster
Management Unit (DMU) in keeping with the same terminology used by most of the National
Disaster Management Offices, and as an apt description of the wider roles and functions of the Unit.
3. That the Council considers designating the current IDNDR Meeting a Technical Advisory Group to
Council on disaster management matters, recognising that the IDNDR Meetings will cease at the end
of the Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction on 31st December 1999. Subject to funding, this
meeting will provide a mechanism to review ongoing disaster management a ctivities, particularly
those of SPDRP Phase 2.
To the Pacific Island Countries
4. Noting the operational, financial and functional difficulties still encountered in successful
implementation of disaster management programmes/projects in countries, that Governments give
serious consideration to upgrading disaster management as a subject/issue, commensurate with other
national development plans and budgets.
5. That National Disaster Management Offices be officially recognised as the focal points for all disaster
6. That all disaster managers ensure that all organisations with a role in disaster management in their
country operate in partne rship to implement national programmes.
7. That countries, using instruments of agreement, provide mutual assistance to other countries on
request for all areas of disaster management, and observe response operations in disaster affected
countries in order to share experiences. (See Recommendation No.9)
8. That scientific response is recognised as an integral part of the disaster management process and
endorses its inclusion by countries in their national disaster plans. (See Recommendation No.24)
To the Disaster Reduction Unit
9. That the DRU co-ordinates the arrangements and instruments of agreement for mutual disaster
management assistance between countries. (See Recommendation No.7)
10. That the DRU database be expanded and adequately resourced to access and facilitate the exchange
of expertise throughout the region.
11. That a formal agreement be established through a Memorandum of Understanding between DRU,
collaborating partners and other assistance providers, to guide the arrangements of financial and
technical contributions toward regional and national disaster management arrangements.
12. That the DRU circulates an explanation of these arrangements.
13. That the DRU establishes a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for in-country disaster
management programmes established by national focal points.
14. That the DRU, in conjunction with national focal points, compiles a regional report of the operational
framework and achievements of the region during the Decade, to be presented at the Global IDNDR
Closing Conference in July 1999.
15. That a distinct and visible capacity be set up within the UN system after the close of the Decade, to
ensure effective and continued support for on-going international, regional and national efforts in
disaster reduction. This permanent disaster reduction capacity should have a multi-sectoral and
multi-disciplinary mandate for co-ordination and ensure global geographic coverage. In this context
the UNDMP-SPO will act as the regional centre for IDNDR matters, besides its operational
16. That the DRU develops a programme to document and promote traditional coping mechanisms in
relation to natural disasters.
17. That the DRU notes the concern of some countries that the DRU should pay close attention to its
work programme in the execution of SPDRP II.
18. That disaster management training will continue to be a significant programme of disaster reduction
towards the new millennium and beyond and that the DRU formulates a framework of action for
training sustainability within the region.
19. That the Regional Training Advisory Group (RDTAG) serves to guide and promote disaster
management training programmes through the Regional Training Co-ordination Unit (RTCU). (See
Recommendation No. 23)
20. That the DRU, in collaboration with other partners, examines the possible accreditation of disaster
management courses within the region at certificate and higher level, and possible establishment of a
regional training institution.
21. That the DRU gives priority to supporting implementation of its Community Vulnerability Objective
through national NGOs, in partnership with Governments.
22. That intra-regional exchange of information be promoted on both sub-regional issues and on specific
topics (e.g. earthquakes, droughts, sea-level rise etc.)
23. That the DRU recognises and supports the roles and functions of the Regional Training Co-
ordination Unit (RTCU). (See Recommendation No.19)
24. That the DRU develops and implements a co-ordinated plan for scientific response to disasters and
provides a register of available scientific response resources. (See Recommendation No.8)
25. That all data and resulting information gathered in scientific response be provided to the affected
country at no cost.
26. That SOPAC, in upgrading computer technology for its national focal points, do likewise for
National Disaster Management Offices to ensure compatibility.
To the Forum Secretariat
27. That the Forum Relief Trust Fund be available for disaster management mutual assistance initiatives
as well as disaster response.
28. The Meeting accepts the Samoan representative’s offer to host the next Meeting in 1999, subject to
approval by the Samoan Cabinet.
29. The Meeting endorsed the Record of the 1997 Meeting as an accurate record of proceedings.
30. The Meeting adopted the draft agenda for the 1998 Meeting.
Mr. Alan Hodges, Chair of the Australian IDNDR Coordination Committee
to be inserted
Mr. Shahrokh Mohammadi, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Suva
I have the pleasure to address this important meeting on behalf of UNDP, and provide to you a brief
overview of the South Pacific Disaster Reduction Program (SPDRP).
The high vulnerability of the South Pacific region to natural hazards necessitated special support through the
United Nations, and UNDP decided in 1994 to fund the South Pacific Disaster Reduction Program
(SPDRP). This program emerged within the context of the International Decade for Natural Disaster
Reduction (IDNDR), in collaboration with the United Nations Department for Humanitarian Affairs
(UNDHA) and under execution arrangements with the United Nations Department for Economic and
Social Affairs (UNDESA). With cost sharing and parallel funding arrangements additional donor support of
up to 2.3 million US dollars could be attracted.
SPDRP was operational for about 3.5 years and contributed substantially to the development of disaster
management capabilities in the South Pacific. The accomplishments of the SPDRP can be briefly listed as
• Establishing and strengthening national disaster management offices;
• Producing national disaster management plans;
• Providing training in a wide range of disciplines to strengthen the capacity of disaster management
teams to prepare for, and respond to natural hazards;
• Improving co-ordination and collaboration between government agencies, NGOs and communities,
for disaster mitigation, preparedness and response;
• Enhancing national and local awareness and capacity for implementation of disaster mitigation
• Establishing and training of a rapid response team for the South Pacific, through the United Nations
Disaster Assessment and Co-ordination system (UNDAC). The effectiveness of this team was
recently tested in the latest Tsunami disaster in PNG.
• Production and dissemination of disaster management related studies, guidelines, manuals and training
A joint evaluation team, representing UNDP, UNDESA and the countries participating in the program
assessed the achievements of the SPDRP in early 1998, at the end of project implementation. The
evaluation resulted in a positive assessment of the program. It was evident, however, that despite
considerable achievements by the program in putting in place the institutional and procedural infrastructure
needed for enhanced disaster management capability in the region, there were still a number of weaknesses
to be addressed to ensure the long-term sustainability of disaster management within the region. The
evaluation team therefore recommended the continuation of the SPDRP into a second phase.
This recommendation had been supported earlier by the 6th Regional Disaster Management Meeting in
1996 in Tonga, which stated that the South Pacific Project Office should formulate a follow up project to
address remaining gaps. The SPDRP -Phase II was thus formulated to make operational and strengthen the
achievements of Phase I. It focuses on four main areas:
• Community vulnerability reduction, through capacity building at the community level. Disaster
management mechanisms that have been put in place at the national level need to be localised, with the
participation of communities and civil society organisations (CSOs). In other words, bringing disaster
preparedness and response capabilities to where it is mostly needed.
• Transforming disaster management training in the region from an externally driven activity into a
nationally driven process, through development of national training policies and programs, and national
training capabilities, supported by a regional co-ordination mechanism;
• Supporting awareness and capacity building for disaster mitigation at the national level. Disaster
mitigation activities are long term in nature because of their multi-disciplinary nature, and need to be
incorporated in the national development process in each country. This would require that disaster
management is considered by governments as a national development priority, and thus, disaster
management plans and activities are integrated into the national budgets in each country;
• Regional co-ordination and ownership of the program, through strengthening of regional co-ordination
mechanisms and networking of national disaster management mechanisms, and by fully transferring
disaster management implementation and co-ordination functions to SOPAC, the regional organisation
mandated by the South Pacific Forum for this task by the end of the SPDRP-Phase II.
My colleagues from the SPPO will address these issues in more depth in the coming sessions.
Finally, I must add that the SPDRP-Phase II is a joint program funded by UNDP and the Governments of
Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand, and it will be executed by, and based at SOPAC.
Implementation of Phase II of the program began in April under preparatory assistance arrangements, and
the full program is expected to be approved in October. Total funding is expected to be above 2 million
Mr. Francesco Pisano, Secretary of the IDNDR Scientific & Technical Committee
Disaster Reduction in the Twenty First Century
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed an honour - and a great pleasure - for me to be given the opportunity to address this Seventh
Regional IDNDR Meeting on behalf of Mr. Philippe Boulle, Director of the International Decade for
Natural Disaster Reduction.
At almost one year from the formal conclusion of the IDNDR, the good news is that we do not need
anymore to convince the world of the central importance of the IDNDR message: in all quarters of society
there is sound recognition that natural hazards, which are inevitable, need not result in human, economic
and social disasters, and that it is possible to decrease our vulnerability to these threats. The bad news is
that, beyond this conceptual awareness there lies the immense work we all have to do in the future to bring
about concrete and effective action.
Natural disasters are the most debilitating events a country can go through except for war. There is an
impressive collection of figures to remind us that disasters have an important negative impact on the
development of the economy and the pursuit of sustainable development. The United States estimate they
lose 1 billion US dollars per week to disasters. The recent Chinese floods may cause damage exceeding 36
billion US dollars. I will pass on to the recent catastrophic events in Bangladesh and Mexico. Disasters
wipe out a large part of the Gross National Product in many disaster prone countries.
Yet, because of the human loss and suffering, there is a tendency to look at disasters only from a
humanitarian angle. Such an approach may cause us to give absolute priority to the response to disasters.
Preparedness for response is indeed an essential element of disaster management, as a part of a
comprehensive approach to prevention. We should therefore continue to improve and strengthen our
response capacity, while engaging in working together to build a "global culture of prevention".
The world of the twenty-first century will inevitably be more complex and interdependent; so will natural
and technological hazards. Statistics tell us that the number of major natural disasters in the last ten years
was four times as high as in the '60s. The future will therefore put us face to face with the challenge of
integrated disaster management and prevention. The only affordable solution is to invest in the reduction of
vulnerability to natural hazards.
In future, we will need to give increased attention to scientific research on natural phenomena, because
progress in science and technology has proven successful in contributing to a better understanding of how
natural hazards develop and behave.
What is even more important, is the appropriate application of science and technology to vulnerable
societies. We need to take into account that human factor when developing disaster prevention strategies
and we must involve local communities in this process.
This has been the raison d'etre and the logic behind the launching by the international community of the
International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction in 1989.
The IDNDR with its International Framework, will come to an end in 1999, and it is vital to ensure that the
positive results achieved in these ten years are not lost. Activities related to disaster prevention must
continue into the next century. We understand that many of the 141 IDNDR National Committees and
focal points are committed to continuing their activities once the Decade is over. We welcome this decision.
In this connection, the UN looks forward to receiving the recommendations of this IDNDR Regional
Conference concerning the need for International co-ordination of national disaster prevention efforts in the
For the final phase of he Decade, the IDNDR International Framework is working together with the
IDNDR Secretariat to assess and consolidate progress made in the 1990s, and to determine the guidelines
for addressing the issue of disasters reduction beyond the year 2000. Our partners in this endeavour
include UN specialised agencies and programs, national and local governments, business coalitions,
university networks, scientific associations and regional constituencies.
The IDNDR will also have to produce a functional and institutional analysis of the arrangements required
for implementing disaster reduction once the Decade is over. As indicated in the latest report of the UN
Secretary-General on IDNDR, there will be need for a central point of reference in the UN system after
the year 2000, to which UN organisations, national committees and other constituencies can relate for a
This is the message emerging from the regional and thematic conferences being held within the final phase of
the Decade. The final declarations from Potsdam and Yerevan earlier this month are the most recent
The IDNDR closing process has been organised with a regional perspective, because the countries of a
given region share similar political and economic realities. This conference provides us with a forum in
which to propose recommendations for the future of disaster reduction in the next Century. Among other
things, the participants in this conference should give attention to the following aspects:
• the assessment of progress in disaster reduction during the past ten years;
• the anticipations of trends in natural hazards in order to project related risks in the next century;
• the definition of guidelines for future international needs.
All the work from the regional conferences will culminate in the IDNDR International Program Forum to be
held in Geneva in July 1999. At this International Forum, the regional aspects of disaster reduction will be
merged with the substantive aspects of prevention of earthquakes, floods, forest fires and other hazards.
To conclude, a new international approach and new arrangements to support multi-disciplinary efforts for
prevention will have to be developed if we want to be prepared for increasingly interdependent and
The IDNDR is proud to have contributed with all its partners world -wide to build a bridge onto effective
disaster reduction in the twenty-first century, which is already called the century of prevention.
the Hon. Mesake E. Baisagale, Assistant Minister,
Regional Development and Multi-Ethnic Affairs
On behalf of the government of the Republic of Fiji Islands, my Minister, the Prime Minister and Minister
responsible for disaster management, the Hon. Sitiveni Rabuka, I extend to you our warm welcome on this
auspices occasion, the 7th South Pacific Regional IDNDR Disaster Management Meeting.
Special welcome to Mr. Francesco Pisano from the IDNDR Secretariat in Geneva, Mr. Shahrokh
Mohammadi, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Alan Hodges, Chairman of IDNDR Australia,
members of the diplomatic corps, members of Parliament, regional delegates, professionals, government
officials, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a pleasant task for me as the Assistant Minister responsible f disaster management in Fiji to share
with you this morning the opening of this very important meeting.
This is the second time that the Fiji government is hosting this annual event; the first was in Suva during the
3rd IDNDR disaster management meeting in 1994. I was informed that the meeting was relocated from
Samoa to allow you, disaster managers, to be part of the SOPAC 27 th Annual Council Meeting, being held
next week in Suva. I note with appreciation this has put in operation the Forum decision for SOPAC to
house and implement disaster management programs in the region.
Going back in time, I recalled the United Nations General Assembly declaring the 1990s as the
International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. The representative of the IDNDR Secretariat may
want to correct me on this; but one major aim of the decade was to serve as a catalyst for a "change in
emphasis" from disaster reactive response focussed on relief, to pre-disaster planning and disaster loss
reduction. The second aim was to heighten national understanding of the need for, and benefits of linking
disaster management initiatives to national development planning and programs.
Disaster management encompasses all aspects of planning for, and responding to disasters. It includes both
pre- and post disaster programs, projects and activities, designed to contribute to more effective response
and recovery from adverse events and to reduce the risk they pose.
Effective disaster management involves a wide range of people and disciplines. Those of you who work
with, or have the potential to be more involved with the development and implementation of disaster
management programs and activities, need to be familiar with: hazards in your country, national
arrangements and strategies for disaster management and knowing your role in the disaster management
In Fiji, there have been some strong advocacy for and implementation of disaster management programs
for the benefits of our community. I believe that we are not different from your countries in this respect, but
we may differ in how pro-active we are in finding solutions to problems that we encounter, how we
prepare, and harness our resources, how we mitigate in the short- and the long-term, how we blend and
co-ordinate our efforts to reduce or eliminate negative effects of natural disasters on our national
development programs, community and people.
The IDNDR era has brought a new dimension to Fiji's disaster management arrangements. Gone are the
days of 'wait and see what is going to happen' but more towards pre-planning and building up national
capacities in government in collaboration with the private sector, non-government organisations, social
agencies, religious and traditional institutions, and together, with the financial a technical assistance of
donors and international communities.
As a result, Fiji in 1995 adopted its National Disaster Management Plan. In this respect, the government in
its pro-active approach, committed itself towards the development, promotion and i plementation of
measures to prevent and counter the impact of natural disasters in the country. The implementation of the
Disaster Plan brought to the fore the need and necessity to have a legislation in place to provide the legal
framework, direction and authority to disaster management programs in good times and especially during
worse times of emergencies.
In June this year, Fiji enacted its Natural Disaster Management Act with the aim of strengthening the
National Plan making better provisions for performance by government and relevant agencies of their
functions and duties in relation to natural disasters management activities and programs.
The plan and legislation paved the way for a more collaborative approach with other sectors of the
community, with the knowledge and common understanding that when disaster strikes, it does not choose
who to impact first or second. The element of surprise and destruction can be lethal to any of us. The
legislation also provides for the capacity strengthening of our National Disaster Management Office, the
'engine room' of disaster management here.
Fiji has been one of the forerunners in disaster management training not only at its national, divisional or
institutional levels. It has been accommodating to share and assist neighbouring Pacific Island countries in a
network of promoting training as an investment towards disaster reduction programs to hazards that are
common on our shores. United States OFDA has been instrumental in this regard, and likewise Emergency
Management Australia and many others who would like to invest in disaster management training programs
for the region. Our door is wide open to receive you.
It is not far off to mention that, in the event this meeting prescribes to a learning institution f r disaster
management in the region, the Fiji government with the assistance of donor contributions and technical
expertise, will only be too happy to house it for the region. This will definitely call for a collaborative
approach and understanding by all of you, bearing in mind that as we move towards the new millennium,
the paradigm of disaster management shifts likewise.
We are the generations that lay the platform and foundation for the future of our children to be adopted in
an environment free or reduced from the negative influences of natural, man-inflicted or technological
Fiji has and will continue to play significant roles in the initiation of projects to better understand
earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sea level rises, climatic cha nges, tsunamis and promoting the Nadi centre
as a regional institute for meteorology to better serve our weather forecast needs.
I must acknowledge the perseverance of SOPAC to take on board the disaster management program for
the region. It has been very successful under the UNDP and especially its department of humanitarian
affairs during its first phase, which concluded last year. Phase II in its current implementation will provide
the framework to develop and generate strategies for disaster reduction and to lead disaster management
programs in the region to the 21st century. Fiji also played a pivotal part in this aspect being the chair of the
regional disaster management sub-committee, to guide the transfer of SPDRP-Phase II to SOPAC, a
We have also had our fair share of assistance to the provision of personnel under the UNDAC system of
disaster assessments and surveys and also provide some cash donations for relief assistance to our
neighbours who suffered the wrath of natural calamities. We have also been housing the majority of regional
institutions. Thus it is logical and conventional for us to host most regional and international meetings and
Fiji has also contributed a lot to peacekeeping duties in the Middle East, other UN assignments and
recently to our neighbours in Bougainville. It speaks volumes therefore of Fiji's contribution to the
international and regional front. We will always be there, if called upon to help.
However our national growth has not been a smooth one; we are affected by the Asian economic crisis,
since our agricultural-based commodities and manufacturing exports depends on the global market of
The drought that is currently affecting the country, perhaps the worst recorded in history yet, has claimed
more than $150million devastation to our national economy and has left hundred thousands of people
without or much reduced basic necessities of life, i.e. food and water. The sad part is, its effect on our
education system, which has affected many students in the western and northern division, for some of them
do not have a decent lunch and bus fare to school.
The sugar industry now has a projected income of ¼ of what it used to get. Ratoons cannot be planted and
other rehabilitation activities cannot be put in place simply because the soil is completely dry and without
On the other extreme, the cyclone season is only a few weeks away and this may bring about the La Niña
effect where rain and wind can bring about another dramatic factor for the people to suffer.
This meeting will be the beacon of light to project the large-scale reduction of natural disasters towards the
new millennium. We all have a part to play, and especially your Cupertino for the implementation of the
South Pacific Disaster Reduction Program-Phase II, as the direction for us to emulate.
We pray for the recent tsunami massacre in Aitape, Papua New Guinea, the tidal waves generated by
cyclone Martin that overcame Manihiki in the Cook islands, and other countries that were affected by
natural disasters and technological fatalities. These are realities that we have to face, come what may, and it
is crucial therefore that we strengthen our national capacities to not only respond to disasters effectively,
but also to work to mitigate pro-actively with the collaboration with multi-disciplinary sectors of our
For us classified as small Pacific Island states, we still have to rely on technical and financial assistance from
our bigger and developed partners, Australia and New Zealand. UNDP and its various arms, United States
of America, Asian countries like Japan, China and Korea to name some, the European Union countries,
international organisations and many others that I may not have mentioned.
The wrath of natural calamities has been lethal to our environment and people, the process has been going
on since the earth came abound, it will always be from generations to generations. Let us work together as
a group of nations fighting for our survival.
Technological upheavals created by man have added more sophistication to the occurrence of disasters.
Let us be pro-active in our disaster planning arrangements. Let us mitigate for the longer term, to bring
prosperity to our individual nations and future generations.
I acknowledge once again sponsors that have made this regional meeting possible. Also the international
agencies and experts who have been providing financial and technical assistance.
For those of you who are present here today, and especially country delegates, this is your calling. The
onus is on you as front line managers in disaster management to take the reign of responsibilities and
accountability, projecting our small island states and agencies to growth and prosperity, which will
effectively reduce and nullify natural and technological disasters.
Enjoy your stay in Fiji, and make the most of the warmth of our people. We still have that tendency to
smile, even during this most difficult time. That is what the drought and natural disaster can never take away
from us - our ever ready smile.
I wish you well in your deliberations and may God continue to bless you and your families.
With those comments, I have much pleasure in declaring this 7th South Pacific Regional IDNDR Disaster
Management Meeting open.
BRIEFINGS ON NATIONAL PROGRAMMES AND IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES
The Federated States of Micronesia
Presented by Mr. Ehson Johnson, Disaster Co-ordination Office
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is one of four (4) political subdivisions, which were united in
the former United Nations Trusteeship "Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands". Three of these political
subdivisions became Freely Associated States under separate Compacts of Free Association with the
United States of America: the Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau and the Federated States of
Micronesia. The fourth political subdivision was the Northern Mariana Islands, which became a
Commonwealth of the United States.
The Federated States of Micronesia itself is divided into four (4) political subdivisions (States) - Pohnpei,
Chuuk, Yap & Kosrae - constituting of both volcanic high islands and low-lying coral atolls spanning over
a vast ocean area of the size of the continental United States. For each State of the Federation, the existing
infrastructure includes international airports, docks, hospitals and schools. The current population of the
FSM is approximately 111,000 people. The capital seat of the Government is located in Pohnpei.
Disaster/Emergency Management Program
In the 1980s, the Government of the United States was continuing to transfer governmental responsibilities
from the Government of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands to the newly established Freely
Associated States. Amongst others, the responsibility for managing disasters was passed on to the FSM
National Government. The National Government then created the position of a Disaster Control Officer
and gave it the mandate of establishing a disaster response/recovery program to provide assistance in times
of disasters or emergencies. In the initial stage of its inception, the officer of the disaster controller was to
serve as an interface with the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the implementation
of its disaster assistance program. Later, the Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia expanded its
program of disaster assistance by establishing a Disaster Relief Fund to provide assistance to disaster
victims. Currently, the function of emergency management is with a Special Assistant to the President, who
manages the program under the President's direct supervision. Each State or political subdivision of FSM
has its own emergency/disaster management office, which works directly with the National Government's
Emergency/Disaster Management Office. They implement their own program of assistance or in co-
ordination with the National Government in case of the US Federal Disaster Assistance Program.
US Federal Disaster Assistance Program
As part of its obligations under the Compact of Free Association, the United States Federal Disaster
Assistance is made available to FSM in the areas of Public Assistance, Individual Assistance, and other
types of assistance which may be appropriate under a Presidential declaration of an emergency or major
disaster. Aside from the funds approved for each project under the Public Assistance program,
contingency funds are provided for program administration, training, equipment, and mitigation. In addition,
FEMA dispatches its inspectors during declared disasters, to assist FSM with Preliminary Damage
Assessments, and damage surveys reports on actual damages sustained during any given disaster.
The FSM National Government co-ordinates its own disaster assistance program. The co-ordination of the
Disaster/Emergency Management Program is provided by the Special Assistant to the President while
other agencies of the National Government provide specialised and technical assistance to the States and
Local (Municipal) governments when appropriate.
State & Local Governments
Each of FSM's States has its own disaster management office, which deals with all phases of disaster
preparedness and response. Each of these offices co-ordinates with the FSM National Government
Disaster Management Office when and if the response to a given disaster beyond the capability of the
State. The same is true for the local governments where appropriate.
FSM has yet to fully develop its own disaster a ssistance program and/or utilise the assistance made
available by regional and bilateral agencies. The current emphasis to improve the national program by
involving the State and Municipal governments so that they begin to utilise locally available resources, such
as manpower and finances for preparedness and response activities, before requesting assistance from the
National Government and subsequently other outside resources.
During the last five years, there has been a marked increase in the involvement of the non-governmental
organisations, especially in the provision of relief assistance to disaster victims throughout the FSM.
Churches and communities have banded together to provide food and other relief supplies to families
stricken from disasters. The recent mudslide disaster in Pohnpei had brought together an array of relief
assistance from all sectors of the community, not only from Micronesian neighbours but from neighbours
throughout the region.
The aim of the National Government Disaster Assistance Program is to encourage the development and
utilisation of available local resources to provide relief assistance during the times of disasters and to seek
outside assistance only in situations when the magnitude and the impact of the disaster is beyond the
capability of the stricken government to cope.
Preparedness: The National Government assists the States in the development of disaster preparedness
plans, which incorporate the specific needs and requirements of the State and then consolidate these plans
into a National Disaster Preparedness Plan. Each plan includes Standard Operational Procedures, which
assign responsibilities to individuals and agencies to ensure a co-ordinated effort during disaster operations
and the recovery period.
Contingency plans for emergency operations such as aeroplane crashes, oil spills, rescue operations,
hazardous materials, epidemics, civil disturbances, and residential or forest fires are developed by
responsible agencies in collaboration with the State's and the National Government's Disaster Management
Offices, and are then incorporated into the National Disaster Preparedness Plan.
Training: Training for disaster managers is provided through FEMA training programs or other regional
and bi ateral training programs. Public awareness and orientation programs are carried out by each State
as funding becomes available.
Mitigation: Mitigation measures are designed to minimise the effects of future disasters, e.g. by meeting
the newly developed building codes.
Warning and Response: The responsibility of issuing warnings of impending disasters or emergencies lies
with the Disaster Management Office. However, with regard to the actual issuance of warnings, the
working relationship between meteorologists and disaster managers have allowed weather forecasts to be
issued by meteorologists rather than disaster managers. Emergency managers then carry out the response
activities required for immediate preparation and evacuation, while the meteorologists continue with the
issuance of updated warnings and forecasts. This working relationship has improved delivery of warnings
and expedited response activities.
Presented by Sergeant Tamaseko Elesoni, Police Department
Country Profile and Disaster Management Structure
Niue is a lone up-thrust coral atoll. Our closest neighbour is Tonga, which is about 480 kilometres to the
south west. Situated at 19.5 degrees South and 169.55 degrees West, Niue is on the edge of the south-
west Pacific cyclone belt and therefore vulnerable to the risk of natural disasters. Niue has a lower terrace,
which runs around the Island, with an upper terrace 150m above sea level. The population of 2100 people
is spread over 14 villages, which are mainly situated on the rim of the Island. The threat of tropical cyclones
each year, represents the greatest risk. Other areas of concern are earthquakes, tsunami, fire and drought.
Politically, Niue is a self-governing commonwealth country in free association with New Zealand. The
Legislative Assembly consists of 20 members elected from village constituencies and the common roll, led
by the Premier and three Cabinet Ministers. New Zealand as a partner remains responsible for Defence
and Foreign Affairs, and also provides for the majority of budgetary support. Another significant source of
funding is from Australia through their AusAID program
In comparison with other small island states in the Pacific, Niue has developed an effective operational
National Disaster Management Plan that provides a practical framework to address the threat from national
disasters. The National Disaster Management Plan has been significantly improved since 1990, when parts
of Niue experienced significant property damage due to the effects of tropical Cyclone Ofa.
Recent changes to the membership of the National Disaster Council have injected additional expertise and
specialised knowledge in areas that have previously been under represented, i.e. Meteorological Officer
(following the commissioning of the Niue Meteorological Station), and the Manager of Niue Electrical
In Niue, we share the development objectives of the SPDRP and the IDNDR for the South Pacific
community and are focusing our efforts towards reducing disaster risk and loss of life, property, and social
and economic disruption caused by natural disasters.
The Public Emergency Act of 1979 and the National Relief Fund of 1980 underpin the elements of our
National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP). The membership of the National Disaster Council consists
• Secretary to the Government (Chairman)
• Chief of Police (Deputy Chairman & Disaster Controller)
• Director of Health
• Director of Public Works
• Manager - Meteorological Office
• Manager - Electric Power Supply
• General Manager - Broadcasting Corporation of Niue (BCN)
Other members can be co-opted, e.g Government Solicitor or Financial Secretary. Due to post-holder
changes, as a result of the expiry of contracted terms in office, considerable co-ordinating effort is needed
to ensure continuity is maintained, thereby allowing the Council to remain a cohesive decision making unit.
The Council as a whole is promoting a "departmental ownership" mentality to encourage greater levels of
service delivery. By involving the various heads of departments in Community Training Workshops a
positive critique of their role and responsibilities is ensured.
The National Disaster Council, the Village Councils and other Community Groups have identified eleven
Project areas as a focus for the future. With assistance given by IDNDR, which we gratefully
acknowledge, the following projects are currently being pursued:
• Portable computer equipment for the EOC, research and the development of management plans.
• Production of a Disaster Management Training Video (in collaboration with BCN)
• Johns' Ambulance First Aid training program (30 trainees - using local resource personnel)
• Printed Community Awareness material (alerting system and related - written in Niuean and English
and available to every household)
Future Disaster Management Activities
DHA/SPO are currently considering the other projects and we are cautiously optimistic that some
assistance will be available. We are actively pursuing membership of the International Federation of the
Red Cross and Red Crescent Society (IFRC). The Red Cross Headquarters in Geneva is currently
considering our proposed legislative draft. Our "tree trimming program" remains an ongoing project. In
October 1997, we received an in-country visit from two building code SPDRP consultants who have
assisted in identifying some additional needs. Our proposed house roof-nailing project is currently a focus if
the necessary resources can be found.
In conclusion, our recent report to DHA/SPO in accordance with SPDRP -Phase II, outlines in greater
detail the direction in which we intend to progress for the future. Although in need of some revision, our
National Disaster Management Plan provides a sound base. We are fortunate to have a v good ery
community network through our Village Councils, who co-ordinate village implementation measures and
act in the capacity of Community Working Groups (CWG's). I appreciate the opportunity to participate in
this important management meeting and look forward to applying some of the recommendations to our
approach to Disaster Management in Niue.
On behalf of the Niue National Disaster Council, the Chief of Police (the designated Disaster Controller),
respectfully submits this proposal for skilled assistance and funding as outlined below:
• Revise & reprint National Disaster Management Plan.