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Tonga to benefit from assessment training on natural disasters

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3rd February 2016 Tonga will be benefit from state-of the art techniques that allow them to assess risks from natural disasters such as tropical cyclones and earthquakes under the assistance provided under the joint Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI) .

PCRAFI assists participants from line Ministries, especially the Ministry of Finance and the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), in risk modelling and risk profiling.

That will help government draw up risk reduction measures.

Tonga has been involved in a four-day training at the NEMO office for government officials, beginning on February 1.

The training is known as the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI).

It has been hosted by the SPC- Geoscience Division, formerly known as SOPAC.

The training will help Tonga Disaster Management officials in accessing information on the disaster vulnerability of certain areas or regions, and how best to manage such risks in terms of location and strength of buildings.

The workshop is being held jointly with experts from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, who are funding the work in the region.

Mr Norense Iyahen, the Coordinator from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community explained that they’re focusing mainly on Tonga and its profile.

“We’re here to work closely together with the participants in studying Tonga, analyzing data and information on population, land use and land cover, geography and their engineering properties, assets including infrastructure and buildings as well as historical catalogues and information on natural disasters,” he said.

PCRAFI comprises two key complementary components - disaster risk assessment and disaster risk financing solutions.

Disaster risk assessment tools seek to assist countries to improve their understanding of their exposure to natural disasters through being able to assess and model disaster risks.

The second component identifies a range of financial options for countries that could improve their capacity to access incremental financial resources in the case of natural disasters, while at the same time maintaining their fiscal balance.

Mr Iyahen believes that this is a quantitative assessment of risk for Tonga in terms of money, potential loss and injuries.

He said this will provide governments and other key stakeholders such as the private sector with critical data and information needed to inform future policies, strategies and decisions in respect of all risk reduction measures as well as for underpinning sustainable development.

He added that there are now opportunities for Tonga and the Pacific islands countries to integrate disaster risk considerations more meaningfully into their respective planning and decision-making frameworks at national and sub national levels.

The risk assessment can also be used to carry out cost benefit analyses of proposed disaster prevention or mitigation investments.

“The risk assessment results and related visual tools can help identify vulnerable areas and communities located in or adjacent to these areas,” he said.

This would assist in informing more targeted intervention in community-based disaster risk management and climate change adaptation actions.

In the actual event of a natural disaster, the database provides extremely useful baseline data and information, for conducting timely and effective post-disaster damage assessments.

Aside from the suite of applications that can be generated using the risk assessment tools, PCRAFI also explores various risk financing solutions for governments and the private sector to consider.

On the tragic event of Cyclone Ian, Mr Iyahen explained that one of the applications of PCRAFI, includes Disaster Insurance, which serves as bridge financing.

“On the event of Cyclone Ian, financing initiative is considered to oversee and helps to assess the economic and fiscal impact of natural disasters, to quantify possible budget gaps post disaster, and to design disaster risk financing strategies including national reserves, contingent credit as well as regional risk pooling solutions which could provide additional financial resources,” he said.

Mr Laitia Fifita from Tonga’s Meteorological Services said that participants from various ministries contribute to the workshop in providing different risk assessment analysis from their fields, as they each links to one another through their ministries in terms of natural disaster.

They share ideas to co-ordinate better in sharing of information of data using the risk assessment analysis.

Participants include members from the Tonga Red Cross, Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, Statistic Office, Ministry of Finance, Tonga’s Meteorological Service and the National Emergency Management Office.

The team from SPC- Geo Science, Fiji who’s facilitating the training include Mereoni Ketewai, Mana Etches and Savita Chand.


Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications


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