On 27 June 2018, the Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union (EU) for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner handed over a Mobile Emergency Operations Centre (MEOC) and two fire trucks to Kiribati Police Commissioner Ioeru Tokantetaake, who received it on behalf of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). The vehicles were part of two of twelve activities implemented under the EU funded Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific (BSRP) Project, implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC). The project operates in fifteen pacific island countries, including Timor Leste, with the aim to assist these countries develop their national disaster management plans.
“Kiribati is incredibly grateful and proud of the partnerships born out of the Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific Project. Through this project, we are able to connect our fire services with the South Australia Country Fire Services (SACFS) and our relationship with our partners the EU and SPC continues. The addition of the MEOC and Fire trucks is going to increase the overall capacity of our emergency services, I can confidently say that our team are prepared to assist our community in times of emergency,” Police Commissioner Ioeru Tokantetaake, said.
In Kiribati, the BSRP Project work directly with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) to implement strategic activities aimed at strengthening both the policy and operational framework for disaster management. The provision of the MEOC was identified as a key activity to support, given that the NDMO did not have a vehicle which they could use in reaching out to communities in Tarawa. Apart from transporting the disaster officers around Tarawa, the MEOC is equipped with sirens and a radio communication unit that can be used to communicate between emergency centres in times of power outage. The MEOC is a Nissan NP300, a solid vehicle, built to run in any conditions, and has capacity to transport large groups of people to safe areas during a disaster.
“The EU is pleased to support the Kiribati NDMO through the provision of an emergency vehicle which will assist disaster/emergency officers to coordinate disaster management actions effectively. This will be fundamental in disaster preparedness and response and ultimately contribute to increasing disaster resilience in Kiribati'', said Mr. Wagner.
Along with the MEOC, two fire trucks and fire emergency equipment, donated by the South Australia Country Fire Services (SACFS), were handed over to the Kiribati Police Services (KPS), which was made possible by the BSRP Project who covered the freight cost. The donations are a direct result of the twinning arrangement formalised through the Pacific Island Emergency Alliance (PIEMA), which was an activity under the BSRP Project that became into its own project. Prior to the donation of the fire trucks, the fire service were operating without a fire truck and majority of the fire officers has not received official training in fire management. Upon delivering the donations, the SACFS Officers also provided the fire officers with a two week training course on how to operate and maintain the fire trucks and basic fire management practices.
“In 2014, the South Australia Country Fire Services entered a twinning arrangement with the Kiribati Police Services with the aim to provide technical and specialist support. We are honoured to be given the opportunity to share knowledge and resources with our Pacific neighbours, especially in the area of emergency management, because we share the same priority of keeping our communities safe. We look forward to continuing this partnership with KPS, as we build towards engraining emergency management training into tertiary studies.” SCAFS Operations Officer Matt Davies, said.
To ensure the sustainability of the outcomes achieved through these two activities, the BSRP Project are also working with the Kiribati government to amend their national disaster management act to ensure the policies around disaster management supports the evolution of disaster management knowledge and practice. The review of the national disaster management act is another activity under the BSRP Project, it addresses the policy side of disaster management and will marry the policies with operational framework around disaster management.
BSRP Project Manager, Taito Nakalevu, summed up the projects overall development plans, stating, “Many of the countries this project works with are already addressing development issues such as poverty while also facing access issues to remote communities and outer islands. The BSRP Project with the Kiribati Government is working to improve a disaster management system that it may address cross cutting issues.”
The BSRP Project is in its final year of implementation, with many of its activities already completed or nearing completion. The Project work with National Disaster management offices to ensure the activities are set up in a way that they are sustainable long after the project has wrapped up. In the instance of the fire trucks, the officers are trained in truck maintenance to ensure the truck will be able to be fixed in country in case of damages.