STAKEHOLDERS in the country are urged to work according to one plan of operation whenever a disaster strikes in the future.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management (MECDM) Dr Melchior Mataki in his address to open the “Lessons Learned Workshop- Makira Earthquake” at the Honiara Hotel conference room pointed out that one important lesson learnt from Makira Earthquake response operations is the need to work accordingly to one plan of operation.
“The frame must be the same, although you can dice it, twig it, add make-up, spice it up, but when you break it down, the frame must remain the National Disaster Council (NDC) Act and game is played according to National Disaster Management Plan (NDM-P),” Dr Mataki said.
“The national frame for disaster risk management is the NDC Act, NDM-Plan structures the ‘game plan’ for managing a disaster and my expectation of stakeholders and partners is for us to contribute to distilling lessons to sharpen the ‘game plan’ and give ideas to make the NDC Act focused and robust,” he added.
On 9th December 2016 an undersea earthquake with magnitude of 7.8 occurred with epicenter 62 km South-West of Kirakira, Makira/Ulawa province.
Mr Mataki recapped on some of the contentious issues during Makira Operations.
“Our newly adopted revised structures of the draft DM (including for the NEOC – National Emergency Operations Centre) had a significant impact on how we managed the early response – but we cannot expect they are yet ready for a big disaster.
“Makira earthquake occurred at a time when government systems were preparing to shut down for the Christmas period.
“This affected the availability of resources, which in turn affected response of sectors to addressing impacts on basic services in a timely manner.
“Nevertheless, the SIG did all it could within its capacity to ensure life-saving needs of those affected were met.
“The SIG’s decision to maintain the Makira as a non- declared disaster may be regarded as an underestimation of scale and scope of the disaster and an overestimation availability of partners’ resources in-country resources.
“We need some concrete recommendations on how non-declared disaster by sovereign governments cans still access international humanitarian financing mechanisms in a timely manner.”
Dr Mataki added that although SIG takes credit for meeting international standards in making initial assessment data available for response planning within 14 days of the earthquake, their observations noted that greater information management processes still remains to be further strengthened to ensure that data collected through various assessment processes do inform planning and decision making processes within required time frames.
“Lessons captured in today’s workshop will help further strengthen the revised NDRM Plan however it should not just end there.
“This workshop is not an “end” in itself; it is a “means” to an end: “better preparedness and effective response in future disasters.
“We call on other sections of SIG to also look within their own legal and normative frameworks to see how best they can complement the NDRM Plan,” Dr Melchior said.
He reminded that Solomon Islands is prone to nature-induced/triggered disasters which disaster management plans and actions must continuously evolve to match the evolvement in the context under which disasters occur in as well as the nature of the hazards.
He then acknowledged the forbearance of those people affected by the disaster, and thank all stakeholders within and outside of government who have contributed in one way or other to the operation.
The workshop was attended by members of the NDC, members of the Diplomatic Corps, donor partners, representatives from partner NGO’s & multilateral agencies, representative of the private sector and government officials.
The participants also weave through the proposed structures for the Draft N-DM Plan 2017– Final for consultation presented by Director of NDMO and Chair of N-DOC Loti Yates.
By TEDDY KAFO