It’s November in Tonga, cyclone season in the South Pacific region began 19 days ago, and in the small island nation’s capital of Nuku'alofa 49 people gather for the Polynesia logistics preparedness workshop.
With 36 inhabited islands lying across the Pacific Ring of Fire, Tonga is ranked the world’s second most vulnerable country to natural hazards.
Vanuatu, a neighboring Pacific Island Country is ranked number one. Solomon Islands and Fiji also feature in the top ten. In a region where 14 Pacific Island Countries are dottted over 15 per cent of the Earth’s surface, agile, adaptable and context-driven planning is everything.
With the November workshop report now online outlining new actions, recommendations, exciting initiatives and a roadmap forward for 2019, four of the women behind emergency responses in the Polynesia region share their views on the importance of preparedness, planning and advocacy before disaster strikes.
Logistics Cluster Polynesia Preparedness Workshop - Tonga
Malia, National Disaster Management Office Samoa
“We can’t be too relaxed and wait until something happens. You need to know your role as a logistician before disaster hits. You need to know your boundaries, your limitations and importantly, always expect the unexpected. Preparedness means taking proactive steps; not being reactive.”
Jenna, WFP Pacific
“Working across 12 different Pacific Island contexts, it’s inspiring to see the passion from the people behind operations, as well as the teamwork and community-driven collaboration among the region’s actors. Each workshop - be at local, national or regional level - introduces me to creative new ideas on how we can continue to strengthen supply chain systems in the region.”
Tasi, National Disaster Management Office Samoa
“Preparedness is indispensable. Planning highlights who we need to collaborate with, who we need to coordinate with, and identifies what resources are in place to ensure those impacted can be reached by whatever means necessary! Without a plan, there’s a chance I’ll only create more chaos. If we plan ahead we’re able to adapt and we’re in a better position to respond to whatever situation may come our way.”
Luisa, Tonga National Emergency Management Office Tonga (Ha’apai province)
“Logistics is such an important aspect of emergency response, and this is really highlighted in preparedness activities. If we don’t prepare for different scenarios, parts of our plans will be put at risk. We need to make sure we can respond to the needs of affected populations and successfully deliver aid during times of disaster.”