The devastation caused by Cyclone Evan in Samoa on Thursday, December 13, 2012 included damage from the high winds of 165 km/h. The water damage was exacerbated by the overflowing of Vaisigano river in Apia.
Natural disasters of this kind, violent and unexpected, highlight the vulnerability of the poor. On such occasions, the national institutional infrastructures are often unable to provide assistance because of the physical constraints of damaged roads and bridges, broken powerlines and wrecked harbours. The coping ability of the poor, and the rural poor in particular, is often very limited, especially since they are often living already at subsistance levels.
Relying on the local community, and collaboration within the community, is critical for offsetting the vulnerabilities of poverty, especially in the context of remoteness. After natural disasters, it is important to quickly rebuild the livelihoods and productive capacity of the rural poor, and this has to be done at the community level. Preparedness for the unexpected impact of natural disasters is key to mitigation of that impact, and that also must be done at community level.
One of IFAD’s areas of work in the Pacific Islands has been to contribute to the laying of foundations for increasing community resilience in vulnerable areas, and that helps strengthen the capacity to cope with crises resulting from natural disasters. The MORDI project in particular has been very successful.
Please see also IFAD’s draft report Disaster Early Recovery Guidelines.
This issue is also important to IFAD’s partners, as mentioned in the News Item entitled “IFAD Draft SRESOP Presented at FAO Regional Workshop”. Specifically, it says that one of FAO’s four priority focus areas is “Food and Nutrition Security Resilient to the Impacts of Disasters and Climate Change”.