March 20, 2018

Pacific vulnerable

The Pacific region is highly vulnerable to the threat posed by natural disasters such as tropical cyclones and tsunamis in the face of climate change.

And for the past 60 years, Pacific Island countries experienced losses averaging to $US284 million ($F577m) a year because of natural disasters and climate shocks.

This has affected about nine million people and caused as many as 9811 reported deaths.

This was shared by Acting Minister for Women, Jone Usamate, while opening the Regional Pacific Shock Responsive Social Protection Conference in Nadi Tuesday.

Usamate said there had been three Category 5 cyclones spanning over the past few years and all three — TC Pam, STC Winston and STC Gita — had devastated livelihoods and infrastructure.

“When Fiji was hit by STC Winston, an estimated 350,000 people living in TC Winston's path had been affected (180,000 men and 170,000 women),” he said.

“A 30-day State of Natural Disaster had been declared, which expired on March 21. Forty-two people were confirmed dead.

“Some 56,000 people were sheltered in evacuation centres.

“The cyclone damaged at least 495 schools, 88 health facilities, disrupted basic public services and destroyed crops and livelihoods.”

According to the World Bank resident representative for the Pacific, Lasse Melgaard, damage arising from natural disasters had amounted to almost $US5 billion ($F10.16b) since 1950.

Representatives from eight regional countries are at the meeting.