The National, Monday July 29th, 2013
THE International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in partnership with the national and provincial disaster centres, has started a project to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities against disasters.
The one-year project, which is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) aims to empower rural communities to cope with natural disasters and the effects of climate change.
IOM chief of mission to PNG Giuseppe Crocetti said last Friday the project targeted about 30,000 people living in Northern and Morobe.
He said the levels of disaster risk in those communities were compounded by socio-economic and environmental factors.
“The remote, rugged terrain leaves them isolated from resources and assistance, knowledge of the causes, results, and possible preventative measures is extremely limited,” Crocetti said in a statement.
“We are prioritising community involvement as we have seen in the past decade that top-down strategies fail to address the needs of vulnerable communities on the frontline of disasters.”
IOM said the project would provide small grants for support to local non-governmental organisations and community groups for community-based disaster risk management initiatives.
National Disaster Centre director Martin Mose commended IOM for “offering PNG the best choice of programme for the benefit of rural communities, where the bulk of the population lives”.
US Ambassador Walter North highlighted the United States commitment to support the PNG Government’s efforts was not only in times of crises.
North said instead, US efforts strove to build more resilient communities in PNG in the face of increased risks and impacts from natural disasters due to climate change.
PNG was exposed to many natural hazards, including flooding, drought, typhoons, wave surges, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.
Crocetti added that PNG experiences cyclical effects of the El Niño (heavy rain conditions) phenomenon and the resultant floods have led to decreased agricultural production, damage to infrastructure, displacement of communities and loss of property and livelihoods.
“To fill these gaps at the provincial, district and village level, IOM will establish appropriate community learning systems in which IOM, government and community groups will work together to enhance the understanding of individuals and social groups on disasters.”