By ILIESA TORA
TOKYO, Japan – October 22, 2019: 6pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Japan will continue to lead Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) work around the Pacific Island Countries because the region is the most vulnerable to natural hazards like cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis.
And the continuing climate change challenge makes that more important, the Deputy Director of the DRR Group at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) told journalists in Tokyo on Monday.
“The Pacific Island Countries are the ones that are the most vulnerable to natural hazards,” Mr Wataru Ono told journalists from the Caribbean and the Pacific at the JICA head office.
The journalists are in Tokyo as fellows of the Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC) Japan Media Fellowship.
The ‘World Risk Report 2016’ released by the United Nation University rates Vanuatu as the most vulnerable country to natural hazards. Tonga is ranked second.
The Solomon Islands is ranked sixth, Papua New Guinea at 10th and Fiji at 16th.
Of the top 21 countries that are at high risk, five are from the Pacific.
Mr Ono said Japan will continue to work with the Pacific Island Countries (PICs) in meeting the requirements of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
The Sendai Framework, the third that has been developed since the First UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Yokohama in 1994, has seven global targets, which guides the work that is being done in the area.
The Framework is aimed at reducing global disaster mortality, reduce affected people, reduce direct disaster economic loss and damage to infrastructure and basic services.
To achieve that the Sendai Framework calls for the drawing up and implementation of National and Local DRR strategies and plans, the enhancement of international cooperation and partnerships and the increase in accessibility to multi hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessment.
JICA, as the technical and cooperation arm of the Japanese Government, is working with PICs on the implementation of the three key areas outlined in the Sendai Framework.
This has seen training being conducted in Japan for regional participants from around the Pacific and the Caribbean as well.
He said Japan is leading the DRR work because the country has come through a number of disasters in the past, which had driven the need to implement disaster risk reduction plans.
Japan has also funded and helped construct infrastructures such as a weather monitoring and observatory station in Fiji, seismography station in Vanuatu and a state of the art Domestic Wharf and Terminal in Tonga.
In Tonga the Japanese Government is currently funding the construction of the new Tonga Broadcasting Commission office building, which will house a modern tsunami and cyclone warning system.
At the same time new school buildings and community halls being constructed in Tonga have been upgraded to withstand Category 5 cyclones.
Mr Ono said the implementation of the Sendai Framework will help in reducing disaster risk losses in lives, livelihoods, health and the economy of a country.
- Iliesa Tora is part of the APIC Japan Media Fellowship in Tokyo.