Early warning, early actions - building resilience of Pacific island communities

Nadi, Fiji -  Lessons learnt by partners as they worked together to strengthen island resilience to climate change and disaster risks, were discussed at a three day gathering that ended in Fiji yesterday.

National Meteorological Services, Disaster Management Offices, Red Cross Societies, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies worked with island communities to implement the Finnish-Pacific Project.

Known as FINPAC, the project iplemented a two pronged approach to help reduce vulnerability in Pacific communities.

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Members of the Fiji Red Cross with Solomon Islands DMO and Met Service

Island communities across eight different countries underwent capacity building with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and National Red Cross Societies together with their Met Services and Disaster Management Offices. This resulted in the development of Community Climate and Disaster Resilience Plans which included the strengthening of early warning systems, improved awareness and capacity for preparedness and response and, the ability to quickly recover.

Pacific Meteorological Staff completed a range of different activities to enhance their capabilities, from the use of a new forecasting and warnings systems called SmartMet and SmartAlert which helps strengthen accuracy and receipt of information, to communications and media training to ensure information is shared so people can understand and prepare accordingly.

Over the past few years this has seen the formation of Community Climate and Disaster Resilience Plans with provision of equipment and trainings to ensure plans are successfully implemented when needed and media guides and resources will be developed for Pacific Met Staff.

With this being the very first community based resilience activity working in partnership with the Pacific Met Services across the region, how to replicate and strengthen the successes to allow for continuation is now on the agenda.

"Our collective efforts over these three days will help us to replicate this approach used during the FINPAC Project with improvements so our Pacific region benefits through having resilience communities with improved weather, climate and early warning systems," said Dr Netatua Pelesikoti, Director of Climate Change, SPREP.

"The strong partnerships formed through this project, working together to bring about positive changes and a strengthened resilience has been a major contributing factor to the success of FINPAC. We look forward to enhancing these partnerships and seeing more great outcomes to come."

While helping to plan ways forward using the approach used through the FINPAC, resources and guides are also being developed that share the lessons learnt in undertaking this project.

The FINPAC Project ends in December this year, with a wide range of resources and materials to be developed and released.

The FINPAC Practitioners workshop was held in Nadi, Fiji 11 – 14 October, 2016. Participants attending the three day workshop at the Tanoa International Hotel are from the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, along with partners – SPREP, IFRC, and the World Meteorological Organization.
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