BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
THE availability of financial support is now a major challenge faced by the National Disaster Management Office to ensure that immediate emergency responses are carried throughout disaster-affected communities in the country, according to the Director, Loti Yates.
Director for National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Yates revealed that the recent bad weather triggered by the tropical cyclone Lucas has immensely affected a vast majority of communities throughout the country.
However, he said his office currently lacked the available funds and resources to mobilize disaster relief and emergency support operations.
“While the government is the leader in emergency response in the country, it is important we must effectively meet the needs of the affected population, but for now, we cannot justify the scope of devastation due to the lack of timely information and operations funds to support disaster assessment teams and emergency responses throughout the country,” Yates said.
“I think it’s much of a challenge because we can’t justify the need to do relief support, right?… and that again we depend very much on information that we received so that we can justify and carry out relief on good and accurate report impact assessments before the government can do relief response,” he explained.
He further added that what the NMDO usually does is to get the right information from their teams’ impact assessments so they can facilitate requests through the normal government channels for fund support and relief.
He said that deploying their impact assessment teams to assess affected communities in the provinces is costly while considering resources like fuels, the hiring of transportations which can only happen if funds are allocated and available.
“…Or whether the provincial government agencies that have these resources can allow the use of those resources because sometimes we find ourselves arguing with other government ministries because they’re saying that these are our priority and we cannot allow our assets to be used because we have our priorities.
“That is some of the cases and challenges happening out in the provinces and here in Honiara.
“That means the budget request that comes to us will have to be facilitated as soon as possible.
“If we can get those funds out to the provinces they can then quickly teams can be deployed, otherwise we ended up having to do relief after six months, and it has happened,’’ said the Loti Yates.
The impacts caused by Lucas had caused damages to properties, food gardens, infrastructures as the main livelihood of the communities across the country.
Recently reports have confirmed that the affected communities include provinces of Central, Malaita, Isabel, Guadalcanal, Temotu, Makira, Western and Rennell, and Bellona.
Loti argued that the triggers to enable their teams to be deployed on time and quickly are in the financial system and therefore getting the cash as quickly as possible is very much significant for the responsible departments.
He clarified that the exact budget for disaster relief and assessments depend entirely on the respective Provincial Disaster Management Offices in the country and on how they assessed the impacts affecting their communities.
“By looking at central province which is our case is Savo for example, a small island, it would cost around SBD 50,000 if we are to deploy a team, this covers their transportations, foods, etc., which cannot be same to Guadalcanal, Malaita or Isabel province and other bigger provinces affected by cyclone Lucas,’’ Yates said.