New Zealand Red Cross aid workers report 2012/13
Focus on the Pacific
This year the theme of our aid workers programme report is our work in the Pacific. More than half our assignments in the 2012/13 financial year were to our Pacific neighbours, including the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.
Our focus has been turning more and more towards our friends in the Pacific, as they are disproportionately affected by disasters and climate change. The Pacific is one of the most disaster prone regions in the world, in terms of recurrence and severity of disasters, with high exposure to cyclones, tsunamis, floods, tidal surges, landslides, drought and volcanic eruptions.
When hit by a disaster, Pacific Island countries have limited human and financial resources to support recovery. It is not uncommon for the cost of one disaster event to exceed the GDP of the affected country for that year.
In the 2012/13 financial year, New Zealand Red Cross aid workers responded to two major disasters in the Pacific – Cyclone Evan in Samoa and Fiji, and the drought in the Marshall Islands. We sent experts in community health, water and sanitation, IT and telecommunications, logistics and relief. They took desalination units and emergency telecommunications equipment. The IT and Telecommunications Emergency Response Unit is the only one in the Asia Pacific region, as is our dedicated desalination team.
New Zealand also sent aid workers to help Pacific countries prepare for disasters and increase resilience.
First aid “training the trainers” has helped get first aid messages out into communities and given small Red Cross national societies some earning capacity.
Telecommunications training for emergency response teams means members will be better placed to respond when disaster strikes.
New Zealand Red Cross has a strong relationship with Red Cross National Societies in the Pacific and aims to increase its assistance to vulnerable Pacific populations over the coming years. This goal is in line with our organisation’s Pacific Focus, Global Reach international programme, which aims to save lives, protect livelihoods and strengthen recovery from disasters and crises.