Approaching disasters and climate change from a development perspective

23 October 2013 (Suva, Fiji) – Communities are vulnerable to disasters and climate change, not only due to the hazards themselves such as cyclones, tsunamis or changing weather patterns, but more so because of where we live, the structures we live in, and our access to basic services. Therefore community activities around disaster risk management and climate change adaptation need to link directly to development. 

In order to do that, the Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP) launched yesterday at the Pacific Humanitarian Team meeting, will focus on promoting development that is more sensitive to the risks of disasters and climate change.  PRRP will work with country governments to strengthen governance mechanisms for risk proofing development at all levels. In particular it will find ways to integrate risk at the community level into development planning and budgetary processes.

Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supported by the Australian Government, the countries initially targeted for the AU$16 million five-year project include Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and Fiji. Live & Learn Environmental Education will implement the programme at the sub-national level.

Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office Director, Shadrack Welegtabit said, “As a country recipient of the PRRP, we have established a National Advisory Board in Vanuatu where we will be mainstreaming across all sectors at national level right down to the communities.

“This project will assist in mainstreaming and strengthening the programmes we are now working on right down to the community level.”

UNDP Pacific Centre Manager, Peter Batchelor, said UNDP will work to build resilience at various levels from the community level to the national level.

“This is the only way to find sustainable solutions to managing the risks that people in the Pacific face to disasters and climate change.”

He emphasised that “we will also be working horizontally trying to connect with the private sector and with Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). We will want to make sure in everything that we do that our work is also very inclusive for example we have taken on board disability issues because in some contexts people with disabilities are significantly impacted by disasters.”

Also present at the launch was the Acting Regional Counselor, Australian Aid Program Suva, John Morley.

He said, “Natural hazards like cyclones and floods are a regular part of life in the Pacific. The Pacific Risk Resilience Programme will help in practical ways to support governments and communities manage the risks posed by natural hazards. Managing and reducing these risks should help to protect hard won growth and development.”

Live & Learn Environmental Education Executive Director, Christian Nielsen said dialogue, planning and partnerships between vulnerable communities and provincial government are critical in reducing disaster and climate risks.  “The programme will work with NGO partners on developing effective, innovative and practical community approaches and then integrate these into provincial and local level government Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) responses and strategies”.

The programme will be centered on 1) risk governance: supporting mainstreaming of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation into development planning and budgeting at all levels of government; and 2) community level risk management: strengthening community resilience through targeted and inclusive community based disaster risk management and climate change adaptation and integrating risk management into local level governance mechanisms.


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