The Malaita Provincial Disaster Office successfully certified 25 community leaders in Emergency Response Training (ERT), which will give communities the ability to assist authorities and carry out their own assessments in a disaster response event.
Representatives from five communities under the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP) Disaster READY program with Oxfam in the Pacific attended the three-day long training in Auki last week.
This is the first time the province’s disaster office has directly trained community members in ERT, says Malaita Provincial Disaster Officer Pearson Simi.
Simi says the training is not only benefitting communities, but is bridging a long-standing gap for the Malaita Provincial Disaster Office, which faces the incredibly difficult task of monitoring and assessing the country’s highest populated province during a disaster.
“Currently the national or provincial team are the ones who go out to carry out assessments. However, this can take a very long process, in fact too long because not much information is provided by communities.
“So there is a need now to build our communities so that they can assist the emergency response teams. If that is done, I can see the work or response [will be] much easier and importantly faster because communities already know what to do.”
Participants over the course were taught how to assess and help themselves, identify the needs of the people and make proper records of casualties and damages.
Complaints over the slow response process and outrage on unmatched relief items is a common story in almost every disaster situation across the country.
“In previous incidents when we respond to a community during a disaster with bags of rice, they weren’t facing food shortage, instead they needed infrastructure items.
“But this is because we did not know.
“When communities are trained to assist us like how we are doing with these five communities, they themselves will tell us how to assist them and what their right needs are, rather than we waste our resources on things they do not need.
“I am absolutely confident that the community leaders who completed the ERT will take back these learnings and will action it when the time comes.”
Simi says the Malaita Provincial Disaster Office acknowledges the partnership with Oxfam in the Pacific to work with communities in Malaita.
Communities piloting this approach with the Malaita Provincial Disaster Office are part of Oxfam in the Pacific’s AHP Disaster READY project. The five Malaita communities are; Anololo in Central Kwara’ae, Baunani and Bira in West Kwaio, Dadaesalu in West Kwara’ae and Oibola in Aoke Langa Langa.
Oxfam Solomon Islands Humanitarian Coordinator, Nicholas Suava, says, “the AHP Disaster READY partnership’s goal is to ensure that communities are better prepared for responses to slow and rapid onset disasters, focusing on the most vulnerable communities in Solomon Islands.
“The community level Emergency Response Training ensures that community disaster governance systems are functioning and that community responders realise their roles to play in supporting the community during disaster events.
“Through training such as this, their disaster preparedness and response plans are being tested and improved to reflect their community context.”
In the AHP Disaster READY partnership, the Community Based Disaster Risk Management process rollout is led by our partners NDMO through the Provincial Disaster Management offices in Malaita, Guadalcanal and Temotu provinces; working through the provincial government to reach out to vulnerable communities.”
Disaster READY focuses on inclusive community-based disaster risk management to ensure that people with disabilities, women, children and other vulnerable groups are involved in disaster planning and that their needs are being met.
Disaster READY is supported by the Australian Government and implemented through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP).
AHP NGOs leading the work in the Solomon Islands are Oxfam, World Vision, Caritas /CAN DO, CARE, Live & Learn and Plan International. Activities are being implemented with communities and local governments in all provinces across Solomon Islands, in Honiara, as well as nationally.
By Ernest Ta’asi, Oxfam AHP Communications & Media Officer