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Statement On The Anniversary Of The Samoa Tsunami

Statement By The UN Resident Coordinator, Nileema Noble On The One Year Anniversary Of The Samoa Tsunami

October 3rd 2010

It has been a year since the tragic Tsunami disaster which resonated a note of great sadness around the country and Samoan communities throughout the world. September 29 will forever be etched in our hearts and minds as one of the most heartbreaking days for Samoa. As the country comes together to commemorate and remember the villages and families that were affected, the United Nations Family pays tribute to the resilience of the affected communities and retraces its steps to see how it was able to aid a great country that found itself in unfamiliar territory and in dire need of support.

On 29 September 2009, the UN System responded swiftly and collectively with our humanitarian and development partners to support Samoa’s emergency, relief and recovery efforts through the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC). The Early Recovery Framework that was developed jointly by the Government of Samoa, the UN System and its partners, provided a basis for rebuilding the lives of those affected by the tsunami and achieving the development aspirations of Samoans as reflected in the universal ideals of freedom, dignity, equality and human rights.

Immediately after the tsunami, relief goods and supplies such as, water, food, tarpaulins, water tanks, seeds, farming implements, medical kits, female sanitary provisions, and tents were provided to the NDMO for distribution. Many of the relief goods were secured from the local markets ensuring support to the local economy. Government’s co-ordination efforts at NDMO were supported by an UN Disaster Assistance Coordination team comprised of IT, logistics and cartographers, allowing for effective monitoring, utilization and targeting of relief and humanitarian resources coming into Samoa
Technical resources of the UN System were also made available to the government ministries to assist with rapid assessments and the early recovery framework, covering a range of specialties that include: coordination, logistics, public health, protection, child protection, food security, agriculture, fisheries, nutrition, livelihoods, water and sanitation, shelter, education, reproductive health, GIS, , disaster management and emergency preparedness, governance, infrastructure, damage assessment and environment. Building on the Early Recovery Framework, a more detailed damage and loss assessment (DaLa) was conducted to complement the ER Framework which formed the basis of a longer term prioritization and infrastructure. The DaLa assessment was conducted by colleagues from UNESCAP, FAO, UNHABITAT, ADB and the World Bank. In addition the UN Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) coordinated the work of 23 scientists from the International Oceanographic Commission, who assessed the wave impacts, run up heights; as a measure of increasing community resilience and improving disaster preparedness in the future.

As per their respective mandates and objectives the United Nations Agencies in their various capacities supported Samoa through different projects and activities. Where others were able to contribute financially some gave technical assistance or a mixture of the two. In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, UNDP emergency relief funds to the value of $100,000 USD assisted with delivery of emergency food, water, and shelter in Manono-Tai among other areas. Since then the UNDP sponsored, Government of Samoa-led, Early Recovery Programme funds of US$400,000 USD is operational in 10 affected communities – Manono-tai, Ulutogia, Utufaalalafa, Mutiatele, Lotopue, Malaela, Satitoa, Vailoa, Lalomanu, and Saleaumua, with another 13 to be added in the second half of 2010 covering all of the 23 villages affected by the Tsunami.

To date, UNDP has delivered approximately 40% of its recovery resources. These resources range from the provision of boats and fishing equipment to jump start fishing efforts in Manono-tai to providing Disaster Risk Reduction training in conjunction with the Disaster Management Office. For example, in the village of Mutiatele the Women’s Committee who manages the fishing equipment supplied by the Early Recovery Project, has been able to increase their income to the value of $400 SAT per month by renting out the fishing equipment to village fishermen. The Early Recovery Program also teamed up with the Ministry of Agriculture to train tsunami affected villagers in the art of composting in order to provide organic foods for family and tourist consumption as a part of the effort to ‘green’ communities as a basis toward promoting eco-friendly tourism in Samoa.

UNICEF also made available financial and technical assistance in their mandated areas of Child Protection, Water and Sanitation, Education and Nutrition. Working closely with its UN partners such as UNFPA and WHO, and other partners such as Save the Children, World Vision, OXFAM, and RedR, UNICEF was involved closely with the Samoan Government Ministries and Corporations in both the relief and recovery period. UNICEF’s coordination work was comprehensive, some specific examples of the work include; the supply of ‘school a box’ and ‘recreational’ kits for children in the affected areas; guidance on child protection issues for psychosocial teams visiting the affected areas; supply of water to affected areas, supply of nutrition, health and sanitation media messages; nutrition assessment of affected areas; national measles campaign; needs assessment for affected schools and preschools; development of water supply plan; supply of play equipment for 4 early childhood education centers.

The World Health Organization via the generosity of the Italian Government since the tsunami has made available to the Ministry of Health $170,000 USD and the Government of Andorra made available €10,000 EUR to be used in their public health efforts in the affected areas. In support of families to re grow their crops the Food and Agriculture Organization through the Ministry of Agriculture provided 59,158 tools, 23,000 planting materials and 19,000 seeds for distribution.

In terms of protection of the people affected the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) conducted a pilot project on monitoring post disaster displacement following the tsunami in September. The monitoring was designed to help bring a better understanding of the protection issues and main concerns of the affected population. The pilot project was implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD). By the end of March 2010, OHCHR had completed the fieldwork for the second periodic monitoring on post disaster displacement. The monitoring team covered 10 selected villages (Saleaumua, Poutasi, Lepa, Malaela, Satitoa, Manono Tai, Lalomanu, Vailoa, Mutiatele and Saleapaga) that were severely affected by tsunami last year. The second monitoring took place six months after the tsunami. The information collected from the monitoring is designed to provide useful feedback to the Samoan government and early recovery partners to help improve their interventions. The pilot project is being implemented in three phases: two months, six months, and twelve months after tsunami. At the end of each monitoring phase OHCHR will prepare a report to be shared with the government and key partners.

The road to recovery and healing remains a long and difficult process however it is the people’s determination and their resilience that has motivated and inspired the UN Agencies to push forward and continue with the rebuilding efforts. We would like to assure the public that the UN System remains steadfast in its commitments to this country. Under the leadership of the Samoan government and in collaboration with our implementing partners the UN remains confident that Samoans will enjoy a safer, secure country with an informed and a more disaster resilient population.

ENDS

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