Fiji takes its role of being a champion of disaster risk reduction very seriously: Minister Ditoka

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-The Government of Fiji takes its role of being a champion of disaster risk reduction very seriously and is committed to ensuring that the lives and livelihoods of people are safeguarded from the impacts of disasters.

This was emphasised by the Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management,Sakiasi Ditoka at the Asia Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Sendai, Japan.

Minister Ditoka said like other Small Islands Developing States (SIDs), one of the most serious limitations that Fiji faced with regards to pre-disaster investments was “budget constraints”.

“Limited fiscal space and our narrow economic base limits our ability to consistently maintain funding for DRR activities,” Minister Ditoka said.
The Government, he said, had therefore been exploring options with development partners on potential disaster risk financing sources that would provide us with the funds required to finance DRR projects to build and strengthen the resilience of local communities.

Minister Ditoka also highlighted that the loss of skilled manpower due to migration and other factors, particularly in Government agencies, were also constraints that hampered Fiji’s efforts to promote pre-disaster investment.

“The Government of Fiji is looking at ways to build up and retain expertise in technical sectors, so as to assist us in formulating contextualised solutions to the disaster risk and climate change challenges we currently face. An additional constraint we have encountered is the lack of accurate and nuanced data on the underlying causes of risk, such as social inequality, gender discrimination and inequity and barriers to the equal participation of women, youth and children.”

Without the required statistical data, he said, the risk levels for the Fijian people and communities would not be able to be measured and our progress in promoting resilience and the DRR agenda would not be tracked.

“Capacity enhancement in these areas is therefore sorely needed,” he said.

This year’s ACDRR provides an important opportunity for countries to review achievements and collectively discuss ways to progress the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and in particular Priority 3 – Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience.

In his address, Minister Ditoka said the promotion of pre-disaster investment was one of the key aspects of the Sendai Framework, and was critical to ensuring that “we protect people and livelihoods from the impacts of disasters”.

He highlighted that for Fiji, the Government commits annual budgetary allocation to ministries for DRR related activities, in particular for structural measures aimed at improving the resilience of critical infrastructure.

“Government is working to improve its early warning system and embrace the mainstreaming of DRR across government ministries. A disaster risk reduction framework needs to be incorporated into our financial frameworks to minimise economic loss,” he said.

SOURCE: FIJI GOVT/ PACNEWS