Reducing risk, and saving lives and livelihoods in Niue is at the core of a new project launched this week in the island nation. The project will enhance the access to and understanding of weather, climate and disaster information from their National Meteorological Service.
Known as the CREWS Pacific SIDS Project, the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems Pacific Small Islands Developing States Project is a US$5 million regional project. The Community-based Early Warning Systems is a sub-component, with a budget close to US$900,000 and spans four Pacific islands, including Niue, for 2 years 2019 and 2020.
The project will help strengthen three different areas relevant to early warning systems; the Community-based Early Warning Systems and traditional knowledge; Pacific Meteorological Council Panels’ support to community-based early warning system and disaster risk reduction; and strengthening the information technology capacity of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.
For Niue, this project is crucial. While Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Heta struck over a decade ago, the devastation it brought is still a fresh memory. Tropical Cyclone Heta caused the tragic loss of two lives on the island nation and immediate losses amounting to over five times their 2003 GDP.
“We are pleased that this WMO CREWS Pacific SIDS Project will help make a difference to our communities on Niue. It will provide the support for us to review our existing mechanisms, our policies and plans on disaster risk reduction and early warning systems to help us identify the best way forward,” said Ms Rossy Mitepo, Director of Niue Meteorological Service.
“We’ll also be incorporating traditional forecasts and responses into our early warning systems and risk reduction measures by involving different groups in our community such as the both the Niue Girls, and Boys, Brigade as well as our National Disaster Management Office and our different Women’s Groups.”
In Niue this week, a special launch workshop is taking place to help key members of the community to understand the project, as well as the different roles and expectations of the various sectors.
The Girls, and Boys Brigade of Niue will be working with partners to document the traditional forecast methods as well as the adaptation responses to extreme events including cyclones and geo-hazards.
Partnerships also play a key role in the project to ensure it complements and supports the work undertaken by the range of partners working to build resilience.
“WMO, represented by Ms. Tessa Tafua, commended Niue in having the foresight to engage and forge new partnership with the Girls and Boys Brigade to implement the CREWS activities. The model partnership is innovative, and a good example that can be replicated not only in the Pacific but other SIDS regions as well”.
“We have learnt from the many experience across our region- that we are stronger together when it comes to enhancing Pacific resilience.” said Ms Tagaloa Cooper-Halo, Director of Climate Change Resilience of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). “This message was a recurring theme during the inaugural Pacific Resilience Meeting in Suva, Fiji, this month.”
“We are all in the same vaka as we journey towards building a resilient Pacific, and this project will be one of many success stories demonstrating the important role of partners working in unity for our Pacific.”
The CREWS Pacific SIDS Project through the Community Based Early Warnings will make a difference in the Federated States of Micronesia, Niue, Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The CREWS Pacific SIDS Project is co-funded by the CREWS Initiative and Environment Change Canada (ECCC) with support from the Governments of Australia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
The implementing agency of the project is the World Meteorological Organization, and the Community component of CREWS Pacific SIDS Project is executed by SPREP.