This week, Vanuatu Prime Minister Hon, Charlot Tabimasmas officially opened two Provincial Emergency Operations Centres (PEOC’s) in Malampa and in Sanma. The PEOC’s were funded by the EU through the Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific (BSRP) Project, with a total cost of €700,000. Each centre is built to facilitate three or more National Disaster Management Officers and it is fully equipped with the necessary technologies and ability to send and receive real-time disaster information.
In the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Pam in March 2015, the NDMO found in their Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) that the communication and information flow between the national response coordination agencies needed significant improvement, which resulted in the misdirection of vital relief supplies for affected communities, delaying their recovery.
In an effort to address this, the Vanuatu government is working to decentralise disaster management capacity, which is in line with the government’s five-year plan to improve national disaster coordination.
Speaking at the official opening of the Malampa emergency provincial operations centre, Prime Minister Hon. Charlot Salway Tabimasmas stated, “Our number one priority during a disaster is to ensure that everyone is safe, and the Provincial Emergency Operations Centres (PEOC’s) will improve communications lines between the national and provincial officers and assist our decision makers in determining how to best respond to emergencies. Establishing these PEOC’s in targeted provinces like Malampa and Sanma will significantly support NDMO Officers in implementing provincial disaster plans within communities in each province.”
The important role of effective communication before, during, and after a disaster is critical to reducing the loss of life in emergencies. The establishment of the PEOC’s will strengthen resilience in the face of current challenges dues in a changing climate.
Acting Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Emmanuelle Guiheneuf, stressed the EU’s support for these centers saying, “The European Union is pleased with the result this partnership has achieved and remains committed to supporting efforts towards strengthening national disaster resilience around the Pacific.”
Also present at the opening was the Pacific Community’s (SPC) representative, BSRP Project Manager Mr Taito Nakalevu who noted, “The construction of the two PEOC’s feeds into one of our projects key results areas, which is ‘Effective Preparedness for Response and Recover’. With these two buildings, we believe that Vanuatu’s emergency/disaster preparedness and response capacity will definitely be strengthened”.