PORT VILLA, Vanuatu—This week, Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Tabimasmas officially opened two Provincial Emergency Operations Centres in Malampa and in Sanma. The PEOCs were funded by the European Union through the Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific Project, with a total cost of €700,000. Each center is built to facilitate three or more National Disaster Management Officers and it is fully equipped with the necessary technologies and ability to send and receive real-time disaster information.
In the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Pam in March 2015, the NDMO found in their Post Disaster Needs Assessment that the communication and information flow between the national response coordination agencies needed significant improvement, which resulted in the misdirection of vital relief supplies for affected communities, delaying their recovery.
In an effort to address this, the Vanuatu government is working to decentralize disaster management capacity, which is in line with the government’s five-year plan to improve national disaster coordination.
Speaking at the official opening of the Malampa emergency provincial operations center, Tabimasmas stated, “Our No. 1 priority during a disaster is to ensure that everyone is safe, and the Provincial Emergency Operations Centres will improve communications lines between the national and provincial officers and assist our decision makers in determining how to best respond to emergencies. Establishing these PEOCs in targeted province like Malampa and Sanma will significantly support NDMO Officers in implementing provincial disaster plans within communities in each province.”
The important role of effective communication before, during, and after a disaster is critical to reducing loss of life in emergencies. The establishment of the PEOCs will strengthen resilience in the face of current challenges dues in a changing climate.
Acting head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Emmanuelle Guiheneuf, stressed the EU’s support for these centers’ saying, “The European Union is pleased with the result this partnership has achieved and remains committed to supporting efforts towards strengthening national disaster resilience around the Pacific.”
Also present at the opening was the Pacific Community’s representative, BSRP project manage Taito Nakalevu who noted, “The construction of the two PEOC’s feeds into one of our projects key results areas, which is ‘Effective Preparedness for Response and Recover.’ With these two buildings, we believe that Vanuatu’s emergency/disaster preparedness and response capacity will definitely be strengthened”.
The ACP-EU Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific is a €19.37-million project, funded by the EU and implemented by the Pacific Community. The objective of the project is to reduce the vulnerability, as well as the social, economic and environmental costs of disasters caused by natural hazards, thereby achieving regional and national sustainable development and poverty alleviation in ACP Pacific Island States. (PR)