In the Solomon Islands, teachers build their capacity to prepare for the tsunami

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In the Solomon Islands, teachers build their capacity to prepare for the tsunami

The United Nations Development Programme, in partnership with Japan and Solomon Islands government ministries, trained a total of 113 teachers (58% male and 43% female) from 13 schools in the province of Solomon Islands. West to prepare for disasters. As part of the School and Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) training, teachers have strengthened their ability to respond to disasters, particularly tsunamis.

The main outcome of CBDRM training is to review school and community disaster response plans, help set up disaster committees and build their capacity to understand their roles and responsibilities before, during and after a disaster (i.e. tsunami) occurs.

Participants presenting their working document

“The Western Province Education Authority applauds the efforts of the facilitation team in designing and developing such important training for tsunami-prone schools in Western Province,” said the education inspector, Mr. Willy Etupioh, emphasizing the importance of the activity. “This is hands-on disaster risk training that fits well with the country’s disaster preparedness and education policy and guidelines,” added Mr. Etupioh.

CBDRM training was made possible through the partnership between UNDP and Japan for the project Strengthening School Tsunami Preparedness in the Asia-Pacific Region. In the Solomon Islands, the project is made possible through the collaboration of different local agencies, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service (SIMS) of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), Education Authority of the Western Provincial Government and Geological Surveys Division of the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE).

The CBDRM training is a refresher course for six of the schools namely Goldie College, Lengana Primary and Secondary School, Kalaro Primary Schools, Nusa Simbo Primary School, Titiana Primary School and Schools Mbabanga primaries. In 2022, the project included five new schools (Gizo Primary and Secondary Schools, Totoku Primary Schools, NGARI Primary School, ARMS Primary School and Irigila Primary and Secondary Schools), School Disaster Management Committees and their local communities .

Alex Rilifia, Weather Forecasting Manager at SIMS, highlighted how the training has helped to improve and strengthen the network with community and school committees to ensure effective early warning systems are in place. “Early warnings will have no impact if the general public is not prepared or if the warnings are not disseminated in time by the government,” Mr Rilifia said.

“The activity is aimed at realizing Solomon Islands government policy which has been assigned to the Geological Surveys Division,” said Carlos Tatapu, Geohazards Director at MMERE. It reinforces the importance of their function in reducing the vulnerabilities of populations subject to geological hazards through seismological and volcanological monitoring.

“Our common goal is to create a safe, resilient and empowered community, of which schools are an integral part,” Mr. Tatapu said.

In the event of a disaster, everyone has a role to play. The Solomon Islands Government (SIG) has assigned responsibilities at all levels, and communities should start by implementing local measures, pending additional support from the national government.

The Chairman of Totoku Community Disaster Committee, Mr. Belshazza Sasa is one of the beneficiaries of the CBDRM training who really appreciated the CBDRM exercise and the knowledge imparted to teachers and community disaster committees, as disasters will affect both the school and the communities. He also pointed out that “students come from the communities and involving them in the training really helps us understand the disaster management cycle and better prepare for future disasters.”

“Knowledge is a tool that enables people to prepare,” said Ms. Deltina Mamu, UNDP Deputy Project Manager in Solomon Islands.

“The main objective of CBDRM training is to equip teachers and community disaster management committees with the knowledge to increase their ability to prepare for future disasters such as tsunami, pandemics (i.e. COVID -19) and other hazards.”

The School and Community Disaster Response Plan is an important tool for them to mobilize additional resources to increase their capacity and preconditions for conducting exercises in the event of disasters such as the tsunami.

Brian Tom, NDMO Senior Programs Officer, said he was grateful for the partnership between all the agencies and highlighted the impact of collaboration. “It shows commitment and teamwork in promoting safe and resilient schools in the Solomon Islands. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the Government of Japan in funding this project through UNDP.

Project Tsunami began in 2017 and has trained over 180,000 students, teachers and school administrators in the region. The main objective of the project is to mitigate the impact of the tsunami and other hazards by strengthening the preparedness of schools and communities in 18 disaster-prone countries in Asia and the Pacific, including the Solomon Islands.

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