Recognising resilience in the Pacific

Neori Lagi (left) of the Pacific Disability Forum receives a Pacific Innovation & Leadership Award for Resilience (PILAR) from H.E. Kenichi Suganuma, Japan’s Ambassador for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. (Photo: UNISDR)
 
By Andy McElroy

SUVA, 4 June 2014 – A trio of creative organisations supporting the development of community resilience have been recognised for their great work in the Pacific region.

Caritas Australia, the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI), and the Pacific Disability Forum shared the inaugural Pacific Innovation & Leadership Award for Resilience (PILAR), in a presentation ceremony at the 6th Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management, in Fiji.

Caritas Australia uses role playing, drama performances, hazard-themed sports games, songs, and nursery rhymes to familiarize children with hazards and how to stay safe during disasters. More than 4,000 children have enjoyed learning to live in safety under the programme in Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

Similarly, the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI) uses story books, poetry competitions and simple training manuals to help young people in exposed and remote locations to be more aware of their local environment, its risks and how these can be reduced.

Meanwhile, the Pacific Disability Forum works to include one of the most vulnerable populations in disaster planning so that the immense experience of resilience among people with disabilities is shared and that development includes their perspective and needs.

The Forum has rolled out a toolkit in Bureto Village, Tailevu, Fiji, that includes guidance on: mapping the specific vulnerabilities of some households; increasing awareness on the issues facing people with disabilities; conducting vulnerability and capacity assessments; development of accessible early warning systems; and storage of water and food.

A delighted Neori Lagi of the Pacific Disability Forum said last year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction, which focused on Disability and Disasters, also gave a big boost to their work.

“It really helped focus attention on the issue of disability and for people to understand this is not just about equal rights but also recognising that people living with disability have a lot to give,” Mr Lagi said.

The award, which was organised by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), highlighted how the three organisations sought to adapt to local circumstances and build on indigenous knowledge rather than impose outside solutions.

“As the Hyogo Framework for Action draws to a close next year it is entirely appropriate to celebrate the innovation, good practice and leadership of these three organisations in support of the building of resilient communities,” said UNISDR’s Head of Pacific, Mr Timothy Wilcox.

“This is the last Pacific Platform before a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction is endorsed in March 2015 by the global community in Japan. The Pacific is renowned around the world for practical, effective action on the ground to reduce disaster risk and these awards are a timely reminder that this reputation is justified.”

The full list of the 11 PILAR award nominees was: Adventist Development & Relief Agency (ADRA) (cyclone preparedness & community climate and disaster risk); Caritas Australia (early childhood education); Climate Change Cook Islands (disaster information); Digicel Fiji (IT back-up initiative); Federated States of Micronesia Office of Environment & Emergency Management (disaster education at schools); Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (youth & climate change resilience); Habitat for Humanity Fiji (cyclone-resistant retrofitting); Pacific Disability Forum (mapping of vulnerable people in exposed areas); Filomena Nelson Samoa Disaster Management Office (emergency radio network initiative); Starwood Hotels & Resorts Asia Pacific (emergency management framework); and Honiara City Council (local disaster governance).
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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