EVACUATION centres should have proper facilities to cater for women, children and the disabled because these vulnerable groups are affected differently to men by climate change.
Ministry of Women and Social Welfare permanent secretary Govind Sami told more than 400 people who attended Labasa's first ever National Summit for Building Resilience to Climate Change that the facilities should include suitable areas for breastfeeding mothers.
"Issues of privacy for women, creation of baby-friendly as well as disabled-friendly facilities are areas in which officials have been sensitised," he said.
"This is all part of the awareness and it is hoped all evacuation centres will meet standard benchmarks to ensure compliance. All managers of centres will be expected to be trained and have a checklist to tick for compliance with the standards. Providing women with the skills to prepare for disasters as well as recovery coping tools is of benefit to the entire family and community."
Mr Sami said women and girls had been referred to as the invisible force of resilience.
"During disaster, women face restricted access to resources that are essential in disaster preparedness, mitigation and rehabilitation.
"Because development can either reduce or increase people's vulnerability or risks to disasters, there is a greater need to integrate disaster risk assessment into development planning and programs to make development more resilient to natural hazards."