Suva, Fiji —- Civil society’s role in preparing and responding to Fijian communities during disasters is appreciated.
These sentiments were expressed by the National Disaster Management Office director, Anare Leweniqila as he opened the Disaster Management and Humanitarian Coordination CSO Review Meeting in Suva early yesterday.
“I would like to acknowledge and appreciate the great support of various civil societies; non government, faith and community based organisations in preparing and responding to Fijian communities during disasters,” Leweniqila told the 50 plus participants at the meeting.
“Government fully supports and encourages partnership with the civil society to ensure coordinated approach is taken at all phases of disaster risk management.”
Leweniqila said while Fiji’s success in humanitarian action during disaster periods is a result of strong government-led coordination mechanisms, government also understood the importance of partnerships with stakeholders such as civil society to enhance disaster risk management and humanitarian responses.
He welcomed civil society’s initiative to contribute to the ongoing review of the National Disaster Management Act through the meeting.
“As we review and modernise the Act, we will also look to strengthen coordination, paying particular attention to the role of our partners, to synergise all our efforts as different sectors and stakeholders as we strive to meet the needs of our Fijian communities,” he said.
Childfund Australia senior adviser and Australian Humanitarian Partnership representative, Sanwar Ali urged CSO representatives to use the meeting to begin discussions on effective CSO humanitarian coordination mechanisms that not only supported government efforts but would work well at community levels.
Pacific Islands Association of NGOs executive director, Emele Duituturaga who spoke alongside Ali during the meeting’s afternoon panel discussion said humanitarian policies and legislations should promote and recognise local leadership and existing community structures.
“These frameworks should be able to integrate meaningful participation of civil society actors, strengthen community led resilience and improve the quality of partnerships between various stakeholders,” Duituturaga said.
The meeting will conclude this afternoon when CSO representatives finalise key issues for consideration by the NDMA Review Team.