EAST Choiseul MP Manasseh Sogavare is right. In light of the frequent occurrences of natural disasters, it’s time the national government set aside funds for urgent relief efforts in times of disasters.
The devastating April 3 flash floods in Honiara and Guadalcanal remind us of the urgency to do just that.
This is to ensure urgent relief supplies such as food, water and clothes are dispatched to victims as quickly as possible.
The Government does not have to go to parliament to legislate for the existence of such fund.
The establishment of a special fund is already provided for under section 17 of the National Disaster Council Act.
All that the ministry responsible for disaster needs to do now is make an allocation under its budget every year.
Keep it there and ensure they are not diverted for other use during the course of the year.
When disaster strikes, we don’t have to run around like beggars to the donors and international humanitarian organisations asking for emergency help.
Our overseas friends can come on later to our aid. But the government has to take the lead by providing emergency supplies to its affected citizens before any other help filters through.
People should look to their government for help, not outsiders, in times of disaster.
Victims on Guadalcanal have not received any food supplies after the April 3 floods until after five days.
This is unacceptable and a total failure on the part of the government.
But this is not surprising because the government does not have enough funds to provide emergency relief supplies for all those affected.
It is the national government’s responsibility to respond swiftly and according to natural disasters.
Depending on donors and humanitarians organisations all the time is a sign of irresponsibility on the part of the government.
As Mr Sogavare rightly puts it:
“We have come through a number of disasters now to learn how to be effective in our first response.
“Depending on Contingency Warrants to address our first response to disasters can hardly be considered as an effective way of funding the programme.
“It just demonstrates the lack of foresight and at worst, irresponsibility by the Government.”
Can the government start setting aside funds for disaster response in the next budget?