Vanuatu ‘must always be resilient’ to disasters

THE Vanuatu Government’s main vision on Disaster Risk Reduction is to ensure Vanuatu’s environment and economy is always resilient.

Minister of Climate Change and Natural Disasters, Ham Lini, made the statement on Thursday, as people in Port Vila marked World Disaster Risk Reduction Day.

“Therefore I am encouraging everyone – from individual households to the national levels – to take any necessary steps to help cut down disaster impacts,” he said.

“I am strongly asking all government agencies to put more commitment towards reducing disaster risks.

“We have to remember that it wasn’t a very long time ago that a category five cyclone has hit us. It has turned our lives and economy upside down.

“We need to take ideas and actions seriously to reducing the risks of any disasters in the future. We have to be committed to taking in the ideas in our activities, developments and different programs.”

Mr Lini said Vanuatu is approaching another cyclone season and the La Nina event, everyone should be actively engaged with agencies that looked at disasters.

He advised that people should take in as much information that they could to ensure every individuals can help to reduce the number of deaths and saved lives during a disaster.

“Disaster Risk Reduction is everyone’s business. We have to live to tell,” he said.

‘Live to tell’ was the theme on International Disaster Risk Reduction Day, which was celebrated in Port Vila this week with a parade through town.

Mr Lini said Vanuatu is one of the most vulnerable places in the world because it is exposed to different natural hazards.

“We face all these hazards, from the land and air. Just this week some islands in the Shepherds group witnessed a hail storm which damaged some houses and crops in the gardens.

“Not only natural disasters but we will be exposed to manmade disasters too.

“The different routes we should be following to make developments can influence whether a disaster would affect us or not,” Mr Lini said.

He said the theme itself ‘Live to tell’ related to the actions that everyone should be taking to reducing the number of deaths during a disaster.

A women’s representative, Irene Malachi, said disasters don’t make people vulnerable, it is lack of resources and exclusion from decision making that makes people vulnerable.

“The simple message of this year’s DRR Day, ‘Live to tell’, to me it means living your daily life and spreading the word about how best you can adapt to change disaster risks in your own traditional knowledge.

“Share and spread it to empower women and men as role agents to help themselves in the communities.

“This equally concerns groups such as women, people living with disabilities and children. It is very important for women and girls, young people, disabled people and other excluded groups to participate more in disaster decision making process,” she said.

Ms Malachi said it is encouraging to see recognition by the government on the role of women in disaster management.