In the aftermath of disasters, Vanuatu faces a lot of challenges in dealing with huge volumes of wastes generated. To improve resilience, a workshop to develop a contingency plan to address this waste issue was carried out from the 2nd to the 6th March in Port Vila.
Participants representing the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation, National Disaster Management Office, Provincial/City/Municipal Councils, Ministry of Health, and the Chamber of Commerce developed a draft Disaster Waste Management (DWM) National Contingency Plan to build up the capacity of Vanuatu in dealing with debris removal and management through more planned approaches. The contingency plan covers actions to address waste issues prior to, during and after each disaster event.
The workshop organized and funded by JICA through the J-PRISM II (Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries, Phase II) is undertaken in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the EU-funded PacWaste Plus.
The activity is a follow up to the Disaster Waste Management Training conducted in November 2019 when a Training Handbook was piloted through collaboration among SPREP, J-PRISM II and University of Newcastle through the Canadian Funding for Local Initiatives (CFLI). The handbook was based on the Pacific Regional Disaster Waste Management Guideline developed by J-PRISM II and SPREP.
Being the first of its kind in Vanuatu and even the Pacific Region, this draft DWM Contingency Plan is expected to be used to guide other PICs with similar situations.
Director Donna Kalfatak of the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC) showed full commitment to develop the plan. “Vanuatu is very fortunate to be piloted to have a DWM National Contingency Plan and we will facilitate its completion”, she said.
For his part, Director Abraham Nasak of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) assured the participants that their team will refer to the DWM National Contingency Plan during response and recovery operations. He further noted, “NDMO welcomes the idea of having such a plan to guide our operations, specifically when clearing debris”.
Resource recovery is a major consideration in the promotion of proper disaster waste management in the Pacific Region due to the limited capacity of disposal facilities to accept significant volumes of disaster wastes.
Part of the training exercise included the identification of a suitable Temporary Disposal site to speed up transportation of wastes and to clear up blocked routes as quickly as possible and facilitate response procedures more efficiently after a disaster. The chosen site will serve as a platform for proper waste segregation.
Further support from the Canadian Funding for Local Initiatives was given to the Government of Vanuatu through the provision of signages to clearly identify the designated Temporary Disposal sites and the waste items to be segregated which include green waste, building debris, hazardous waste, earth materials, timber, metal and general waste.
The turnover of the signages was held at Korman area which was used as a Temporary Disposal site during Cyclone Pam in 2015, with Acting Director General of the Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Environment, Energy and Disaster Management, Moses John Amos, Director of DEPC, Donna Kalfatak and Director of NDMO, Abraham Nasak gracing the occasion.
The participants were also trained on conducting a rapid waste assessment out in the field to get them prepared to undertake this exercise during debris cleaning operations.
The Rapid Waste Assessment exercise that supplemented the workshop was a simulation of an aftermath event in the town area. The exercise up-skilled the participants on appropriate procedures in assessing location, types and volumes of wastes in affected areas and mapping these out using the GPS tracking system. The exercise can also be used to assess potential damage and enhance preparedness.
With these initiatives, increased resilience in terms of disaster and waste management becomes very promising for Vanuatu.