Developing of a Regional Disaster Waste Management Guideline was the main purpose of a three-day regional workshop that was held in Apia this week from Tuesday 16th to Thursday 18th October 2018.
Participants from Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu gathered at the Hotel Millenia conference room in Apia to discuss and contribute in the development of the Regional Disaster Waste Management Guideline, including a Simple Template for Countries to develop their Disaster Waste Management Plans to translate the guideline to actual actions on the round at the national and local level.
The workshop was jointly hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through its Japanese Technical Cooperation Project for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management, Phase II (J-PRISM II). Strengthening Pacific island countries’ capacity to better manage disaster waste is one of four outputs of the JPRISM IIproject.
J-PRISM II is a five year multi-million dollar project funded by JICA in partnership with SPREP. It follows on from the success of the J-PRISM project which concluded in January 2016. The project’s overall goal is the sustainable management of solid waste in the Pacific region. JICA’s assistance to Pacific Island Countries in terms of solid waste management stems from the Government of Japan’s commitment at the 2nd Japan-Pacific Leaders Meeting in 2000.
JICA’s Resident Representative, Mr Toshiaki Tanaka, who gave the opening address, said, “I would like to strongly emphasize the importance of disaster waste management. When natural disasters strike, they generate lots of waste including toxic substances and materials as well as sharp items that directly pose health risks to the affected communities.”
“The longer these wastes are left without any management measures, the higher the risk to the affected communities. It is therefore very crucial to incorporate waste management in our national disaster management plans for a holistic approach in dealing with natural disasters impacts.”
Mr Afele Faiilagi, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in Samoa, welcomed the participants to the beautiful islands of Samoa and spoke on the importance of the workshop to the Pacific region, especially heading into the cyclone season.
“Over the years, the Pacific region has shown great leadership in recovery operations and resilience in a number of natural hazards and disasters affecting our Region. These hazards range from cyclones, severe flooding, tsunami and earthquakes to name a few,” Mr Faiilagi said.
“While disasters themselves are episodic, the need for disaster waste management should be an ongoing priority, rather than just a subject during and after a disaster.”
“This workshop is a great opportunity for us all to be informed about the potential environmental damage of disasters and how to apply some of the relevant tools and approaches that we will learn to minimise the negative impacts of emergencies, not forgetting the importance of proper disaster waste management approach and disposal.”
J-PRISM II Chief Advisor, Mr Nobuaki Miyata said that the gathering was a unique one as it may be the first time senior government officials from both National Disaster Management Authorities and Waste Management Agencies have come together.
“This is the beginning of a much needed partnership and collaboration between the two organisations in all Pacific island countries, for better responses to Disaster Waste Management in the future,” Mr Miyata said.
Dr Vicki Hall, Director of the Waste Management and Pollution Control programme of SPREP, noted that while considerable efforts have been focused on predicting and building resilience to climate change related disaster impacts, the management of waste after disaster events is still often uncoordinated.
“This calls for an integrated approach requiring the alignment of waste management with national disaster management strategies and plans to ensure a properly coordinated approach in the management of the large volumes of wastes generated, whenever disaster strikes.”
Some of the expected outcomes of the three-day workshop includes the production of a draft Disaster Waste Management guideline tailored specifically for Pacific island countries. Its purpose is to act as a guide on what to do during the different stages of a natural disaster – preparedness, response, recovery and reconstruction.
It is expected that the Regional Disaster Waste Management Guideline will provide key information as a checklist to the countries on what measures and actions must be undertaken (MUST DO LIST) during the following key stages of a Disaster:
1. Prevention and Preparedness –before the disaster strikes
2. Emergency Response – within the few hours and days after the disaster occurrence
3. Recovery – within weeks and months after the disaster occurrence
4. Reconstruction – within months or years after the disaster
This important information will help to guide the countries on their preparations in the future. The second consultation for this regional guideline will be done in Palau for the North Pacific Islands in March 2019. Any generated Draft Document will be circulated to other countries in the region outside of those covered under the JPRISM II project for their input before the finalization of the Guideline.
Lastly, improved communication and cooperation among the Disaster Management Agencies and Waste Management Agencies at the national level will be encouraged through the workshop’s discussions, where officials from the two different organisations will be able to share the challenges and issues involved in their areas of work and come up with appropriate measures to address these issues
For more information, please contact Assistant Chief Advisor of J-PRISM II, Mr Faafetai Sagapolutele at [email protected].