24 Mar 2016

UN assembles group to reduce disaster risk in Pacific

7:42 pm on 24 March 2016

The United Nations is assembling an informal working group to help reduce the risk of disasters in the Pacific.

A birds eye view of Lavena village Taveuni in Fiji after Cyclone Winston

A birds eye view of Lavena village Taveuni in Fiji after Cyclone Winston Photo: Alex Perrottet/RNZ

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said it was partnering with other UN agencies, NGOs and organisations such as the Fijian government and the Institute of Fiji Engineers.

Its Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Pacific, Timothy Wilcox, said the group's focus was to share information and make sure people incorporated the concept of 'build back better' into reconstruction efforts.

"Otherwise what's going to happen is people simply reconstruct a house, or a building but they're not actually taking into consideration that another cyclone is going to happen. Which means that unless they make the new building resilient then we'll just simply be repeating all the mistakes of the past."

Mr Wilcox said strategies could include using tie down straps to secure a roof or rebuilding a house in a safer location.

Mr Wilcox also said a separate private sector group he was working on could play an important role in building resilience.

"And the hotel industry is a good example of that, whereby it's important that hotels are being built to the hazards that they are constantly exposed to here in the Pacific."

Mr Wilcox said the working group would include companies from Australia, New Zealand, and the island countries.

He said this group hoped to meet officially for the first time later this year.