20 Dec 2016

Shelter, health and education priorities for Solomons quake recovery

5:52 pm on 20 December 2016

Shelter, health and education are the priority areas for authorities responding to recent quakes in Solomon Islands.

A family in Kirakira, narrowly escaped with their lives after the wall of their family home collapsed during the 7.8 earthquake which hit Solomon Islands on 9 December, 2016.

A family in Kirakira, narrowly escaped with their lives after the wall of their family home collapsed during the 7.8 earthquake which hit Solomon Islands on 9 December, 2016. Photo: World Vision / Gray Nako

Almost 10,000 people are now believed to have been affected across three provinces by the 7.8 magnitude quake which struck a fortnight ago off of Makira in the country's south.

An eleven-year-old girl who was crushed when a building collapsed on her remains the only fatality of the quakes.

Multiple aftershocks including a major 6.9 quake on the Saturday after the 7.8 quake have kept people in the affected communities on edge and heavy rainfall has caused several landslides on Makira.

 This mother from Manitawaniuhi Village cooking breakfast for her kids when the roof of their fell on top of her and a child she was carrying.

This mother from Manitawaniuhi Village was cooking breakfast for her kids when the roof fell on top of her and a child she was carrying during the 7.8 magnitude quake which struck Solomon Islands on 9 December. Photo: Supplied / World Vision

The director of the National Disaster Management Office Loti Yates said several hundred buildings have been damaged or destroyed mostly from the earthquake but also from a tsunami generated by the first quake.

Mr Yates said there had been major damage to classrooms, dormitories and staff houses in at least 11 schools in the affected provinces of Makira and Ulawa, Malaita and Guadalcanal.

"We find ourselves quite lucky in that this happened during the school break however the education sector is pressured to ensure that whatever needs to happen now in as far as early recovery is concerned must happen now as it doesn't want to delay resumption of classes in early 2017."

He said his Office was calling on all its existing donor partners as well as international aid organisations in the country involved in the response to allow the NDMO to lead the relief effort.

"Because the thing is we don't want to have them rush in only to find that they have been utilising resources that are not, may not have been required at all. We want to go back our partners donor governments etc. with good information and do a targetted response very specific to the needs that we have identified."

Mr Yates said there were also reports of landslides and damages to buildings in the Shortland Islands in the far north-west on the Solomon Islands Papua New Guinea border as a result of the recent 7.9 earthquake in that country's New Ireland Province.

The National Disaster Management Office is also helping communities in Choiseul Province and other parts of the country affected by flooding and landslides caused by ongoing torrential rain said Mr Yates.

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