The Solomon Islands Government has received a much needed boost to their disaster response efforts through the handover of a fully customized mobile Emergency Operation Centre (EOC), which will ensure continuity of coordination and mobile communication capability in the event of any disaster emergency.
The mobile EOC will ensure the capacity of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and the National Emergency Response Team (NERT) response time, is quick and is able to effectively coordinate with evacuation and health centers.
The vehicle and assorted equipment was provided through the Strengthening Disaster Risk Management and Recovery (DRM) project, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the NDMO within the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) with funding from the Australian Government.
Disaster situations especially in remote locations require significant logistical support to transport equipment, humanitarian goods and personnel to assist the affected population. Flow of information to and from the affected areas are also very important to support timely decision making.
The new vehicle is fitted with HF and VHF mobile communications as well as resources to support a mobile office to be used by the NERT when deployed to provinces or remote locations.
“Challenged with the lack of capability to support immediate deployment of specialist emergency response teams, the National Emergency Response Team (NERT) concept was developed to enhance emergency preparedness and response in the Solomon Islands,” said MECDM Permanent Secretary, Dr Melchior Mataki.
“The NERT methodology was developed from a global best practice, tried and tested over 20 years in 150 plus large-scale disasters. In line with the Boe declaration, it is the aspiration of the Solomon Island government to deploy NERT regionally and internationally either as bilateral or multi-lateral support,” said Dr Mataki.
The Australian High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands Dr Lachlan Strahan said, “a robust and resilient management response structure is vital when responding to disaster events, particularly in remote locations”.
“The DRM project has boosted the NERT’s communication and coordinating capability, enabling Solomon Islands to deliver an effective whole-of-government disaster response systems at the national and provincial levels,” said Dr Strahan.
”We have seen this system in action through the Government’s COVID-19 preparedness and response activities, but also in its response to Cyclone Harold in 2019 and other recent bad weather events”.
He added, “Australia is proud to be working in close partnership with the NDMO and the UNDP through the DRM Project,” Dr Strahan said.
In re-affirming the partnership, DRM Project Manager Ms Vini Talai stated, “the DRM project first and foremost supports the mandate of NDMO as the main coordinating body for disaster management and disaster risk reduction in Solomon Islands.”
She added, “It supports the aspiration of the government to safeguard its people from impacts of disasters and resilience building,” said Ms Talai.
The DRM Project works to build institutional capacity development, coordination and planning, and provides policy advisory support to Solomon Islands’ disaster management. The Australian Government and UNDP have been long-standing partners of the Solomon Islands Government.