Focus on vulnerable, social protection systems

SOCIETIES need to ensure that no vulnerable group is left behind in times of disasters.

According to the World Bank resident representative for the South Pacific, Lasse Melgaard, Pacific Island countries had borne the brunt of nature’s fury over the past decades.

Mr Melgaard was at the Pacific Regional Workshop on Shock Responsive Social Protection Conference in Nadi last week and said millions of people in the region were affected by disasters, including loss of lives with a damage bill totalling more than $F10 billion since 1950.

“While humanitarian responses to natural disasters are timely, efficient, effective and contribute to building longer-term resilience, no doubt the best way to deal with disasters, including the increasingly severe weather-related events in the Pacific is to be proactive on many fronts as possible,” he said.

“This includes building flexibility and adaptability into social protection systems. Being proactive is the only way to ensure even better responses while minimising the severity and duration of impacts on people in our communities.”

Mr Melgaard said this included the most vulnerable, including the poor, elderly, disadvantaged and people living with disability.

“As societies, we are measured on how well we care for these groups and it is crucial that during times of disaster, they are not left behind.”

The conference focussed on shock responsive social protection, which Mr Melgaard said was an integrated approach to reducing the vulnerability of disadvantaged groups.

“It works on the understanding of the interlinked nature of the shocks and stresses that people in need face. It considers the potential synergies to be gained from bringing together social protection, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

“What it all really comes down to is taking a more proactive approach to social protection and emphasising investment in Government capacity to respond to shocks through preparedness.”