21 November 2019, Port Vila - The government, NGOs, community, women, youth and vulnerable groups, civil defence, private sector, and other stakeholders actively participated in the Training of Trainers to improve disaster response and manage disaster wastes appropriately. Held at Port Vila, the training runs from the 18th to the 22nd November 2019 culminating with the development of a National Disaster Waste Management Action Plan.
A grant from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Funding for Local Initiatives (CFLI) is allowing the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to strengthen the capacity of Vanuatu to deal with the waste created by disasters, such as cyclones, tsunamis, floods and volcanic eruptions. With technical support from the Japanese Technical Cooperation PRoject for Promotion of Regional Initiative on Solid Waste Management in Pacific Island Countries (J-PRISM II) and the University of Newcastle, Australia, the training programme is guided by a Handbook based on the draft Regional Disaster Waste Management Guidelines developed by J-PRISM and SPREP.
Mr. Faafetai Sagapolutele, J-PRISM’s Assistant Chief Adviser and technical expert on disaster waste and the author of the Regional Guidelines, has witnessed and addressed the overwhelming amount of waste generated during disasters caused by natural hazards. According to him, the volume of waste generated by disasters may be as much as ten times the average waste generated under normal conditions. Its source is from damaged and destroyed buildings, fallen trees and poles and wrecked cars. If not properly managed, this may create a significant negative impact on the post-disaster recovery efforts of the affected countries.
According to the United Nations WorldRiskIndex, Vanuatu is the world’s most 'at-risk' country for natural hazards. Vanuatu was chosen as the site of the pilot program because of this vulnerability. The trainees are well aware of their vulnerability and indicated a strong willingness to be part of enabling resilient communities to reduce the impacts of disasters.
Director Donna Donna Kalfatak of the Department of Environmental Protection and Conservation (DEPC) of the Government of Vanuatu affirmed the government’s commitment to disaster preparedness. “We, as a country, need to improve our resilience efforts by building our capacity to make our lives as resilient as possible,” stated Director Kalfatak.
“The training handbook and this pilot training programme on disaster waste management will strengthen communities’ ability to take proactive measures and plan ahead in dealing with wastes generated during disaster events .” said Ms. Ma Bella Guinto, Solid Waste Management Adviser at SPREP.
Part of the training programme, and information in the booklet, will involve removing salvageable material from disaster waste. This may include timber from ruined buildings, green wastes, and metals. This recovery would reduce the amount of material going to landfills. The training will also involve identifying and handling dangerous materials, such as asbestos and household chemicals.
Ms. Guinto also noted that the lessons learned from the Vanuatu training will be fed into the draft training handbook, which will be made available to countries and communities across the Pacific.
“We want to incorporate practical measures into the handbook including gender and social inclusion issues,” said Ms. Guinto, “to enable proactive approaches in dealing with disaster wastes.
The training handbook will draw on the extensive experience of the University of Newcastle (UON) team in the field of disaster resilience. “Our approach to such training programs is participatory and community-based, as we have done in other Pacific Island Countries”, said Dr Iftekhar Ahmed, Associate Professor and Program Convenor of the Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development at UON. “We want the training to be a local capacity building opportunity so that local trainers in Vanuatu for disaster waste management can be developed – our model is a training-of-trainers program.”
The CIFAL centre at UON under the United Nations Institute of Training and Research will award the training participants with UN-badged certificates, which will contribute further to their future work as trainers. “The UN certification will be a significant plus point of the program”, noted Dr Ahmed.
Director Kalfatak expressed gratitude to the training organisers. “The Vanuatu Government is grateful that the pilot training to support the implementation of this guideline is being held in Port Vila for the benefit of the people of Vanuatu. This will definitely be valuable to assist us to respond better to disasters,” she further said.
For more information, please contact Ma Bella Guinto, Solid Waste Management Adviser at SPREP, at [email protected].