Disaster preparedness a must

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PACIFIC Island Countries are vulnerable to natural hazards that include floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.

In an article by Pacific Islands Report in 2016, Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu are highlighted as the top 5 highest risk countries in the world.

These past months and Easter weekend, these 5 countries had been faced with the sudden onset of disaster.

This Easter weekend, in Fiji, most of the town in the Western division had been underwater following torrential rains and heavy winds caused by Tropical Cyclone (TC) Josie.

In PNG last month, a 7.5 earthquake hit the highlands killing 125 people in its wake causing 35000 people to be displaced.

In Vanuatu, volcanic alert is at level 3 with only last week, Lombenben volcano on the island of Ambae erupt causing buildings to collapse under the weight of volcanic ash. In Tonga, between 12 and 13, February 2018, TC Gita with average winds of 110 knots (285km/hour) crossed the small island nation, making it one of the worst cyclones to have hit the island of Tonga.

For Solomon Islands, though not catastrophic, a 5.8 earthquake jolted almost everyone in Honiara on Good Friday morning (maybe a spiritual awakening for some).

Because of the frequency of such natural hazards, disaster preparedness is a must and people must be educated and made aware on preparedness plans.

Our National Government has its National Disaster Risk Management Plan and this should be an ongoing priority area for them. Despite the limited budget, National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) must be able to develop and strengthen its disaster risk management capacity in the country.

People too, let us not be ignorant.

We should do something now to reduce or mitigate the effects of such disaster on our property, lives and infrastructure.

Let us not wait for a catastrophic event to happen.

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