Disaster focus for food clusters

PREPARING for and responding to natural disasters with strong leadership in a co-ordinated and timely manner was one of the major themes discussed at the first training of Pacific food security cluster national co-ordinators.

The four-day event, which ended yesterday, was designed to improve the skills of regional national food security cluster co-ordinators with training provided on critical core emergency competencies, leadership and co-ordination skills and to equip them with the expertise required to guide their clusters before, during and after an emergency.

Pacific World Food Program (WFP) officer-in-charge Anthony Freeman said the interactive technical sessions provided participants with cutting-edge information on disaster preparedness and resilience, cash-based transfer (CBT) insights, needs assessments and early recovery.

“We addressed the importance of cross-cutting issues such as gender protection mainstreaming and accountability to affected populations,” Mr Freeman said.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and WFP, the Pacific was one of the most vulnerable regions to natural hazards in the world and climate-related disasters were increasing the threat.

They said of the 20 states with the highest average disaster losses scaled by gross domestic product, eight were Pacific Island countries.

A core element of this week’s training involved a two-and-a-half day simulation exercise. Within the supportive confines of a controlled environment, participants were presented with a time-sensitive emergency scenario in which they were exposed to the key roles and responsibilities an emergency response would entail.

About 25 representatives from governments, non-governmental and United Nations organisations, including delegates from six Pacific Island nations — Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu — were present. The training was jointly hosted by food security cluster co-lead co-ordinators: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the United Nations World Food Programme in partnership with the global food security cluster in Rome, Italy and supported by RedR Australia.

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