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Fiji : Early warning systems vital for PSIDS: Minister Seruiratu.

Establishing warning systems is the best and practical option for communities that need to be relocated from hazardous zones during times of disasters.

This was the remark made by Hon. Minister for Agriculture, Rural & Maritime Development & National Disaster Management at the Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Regional Strategies towards Building Resilience to Disasters in Asia and Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand from 26th 29th October 2015.

Hon Minister Seruiratu said that since 1950, extreme events have affected approximately 6.2million people in the Pacific region and caused almost 10,000 reported deaths and damages of around US$3.2 billion.

He added that while early warning systems are vital, gaps exists such as observation & monitoring systems, data processing capabilities to generate early warning information; integration of warning information into decision making for enhanced preparedness & community awareness; and capabilities to understand and respond to early warning information.

To address these gaps, an end to end multi-hazard early warning system needs to be built to ensure cost-effectiveness and sustainability and discard any fragmented and uncoordinated efforts. In the Pacific, there is a need to combine geo-hazard and weather-related warning services to bring them under a multi hazard umbrella .

Other issues faced by Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) were technical institutions needed further capacity building to maintain optimal observation & monitoring systems and data communication& data processing to generate early warning information. Majority of PSIDS are too small to maintain a multi-hazard integrated early warning service at the individual country level, thus to maximize economies of scale there is a need to have effective regional mechanisms.

A regional approach to establish multi-hazard early warning systems can help ensure sustainability and cost-effectiveness. This approach requires clear demarcation of national and regional roles with detailed standard operating procedures .

While also acknowledging the contribution of regional and development partners such as ESCAP and World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Minister Seruiratu said that further support is needed from these institutions to strengthen regional cooperation and capacity development for hazards such as tropical cyclones.

The PSIDS have been championing the integration of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. The SAMOA Pathway reaffirms that SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development, recognising SID s ownership and leadership in overcoming these challenges. In the specific context of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, the Pathway includes a commitment for SIDS to gain better access to technical assistance and financing for early warning systems .

The two Government Officials accompanying Minister Seruiratu at the meeting in Bangkok are Jovesa Vocea the Commissioner Northern Division and Sanaila Laqai from the Department of Strategic Planning.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Oct 31, 2015
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