8 Aug 2013

IOM helping improve disaster resilience in Papua New Guinea

5:14 pm on 8 August 2013

The International Organisation of Migration, along with Papua New Guinea's national and provincial disaster centres and the US Agency for International Development, is working to improve resilience to natural disasters.

The IOM's disaster risk reduction process manager, Wonesai Sithole, explained to Don Wiseman what they intend doing.

WONESAI SITHOLE: We are working, in turn, to promote disaster reduction through building community resilience in Papua New Guinea communities. There are about 5 districts in the 30 communities who are working on activities that really are promoting resilience in the communities.

DON WISEMAN: Yes, OK. How are you going about that? There's been a lot of talk and a lot of other organisations also working on resilience to disasters, aren't they? So what is it that you guys are focusing on?

WONESAI SITHOLE: We are focusing in terms of capacity-building of the communities. That is, enhancing the aspects of emergency preparedness and disaster preparedness, where we look in terms of operational procedures in case of a disaster affecting our community. So we are trying to move the community from being in a responsive mode to be in a preparedness mode. And we are trying to encourage a climate-smart innovation that also increases the capacity of the community and the resilience in the community to mitigate against the impact of any climate variations that are likely to happen within their communities.

DON WISEMAN: The IOM has said that in the past these sorts of programmes have tended to be top-down, and you're taking a community-up approach. What does that mean, exactly?

WONESAI SITHOLE: The community-based approach is where you go to the community and you do a knowledge assessment, capacity assessment, of their community. And then we work with the community in terms of identifying their hazards that affected them. And when you identify those hazards, the community, they start to plan from their strength of what they currently have within their community in terms of how best they can mitigate against the impact of those hazards, and also check in terms of their local capacity and identify gaps in case of a disaster of what could be required in terms of mitigation. So if and when other people come and assist them, they assist them from an informed point of view, so they understand what is currently the situation that they have, what resources do they have, where are they positioned, and what level of evacuation procedure do they have within their communities.