PNG Natural Disaster Response Office Urgently Needs Funding and Support

The previous 7.6 magnitude earthquake that hit Morobe, and the recent at Chambri Lake have highlighted the urgent need for the National Disaster Office to be financially equipped to respond to natural disasters. The earthquake caused landslides and damaged properties, resulting in seven reported deaths. As the effects of climate change become more obvious, it is crucial to adopt a proactive approach rather than a reactive one.

Papua New Guinea is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, drought, flooding, and volcanic eruptions, which are inevitable. Advanced preparation is key to overcoming these disasters that have been predicted. While natural disasters are unpredictable, being prepared is more cost-effective than dealing with the damage, deaths, and rebuilding afterwards.

The argument that there are not enough funds or resources to put into disaster preparedness is unacceptable, as the country cannot afford the damages that come with a reactive response. Disasters not only cost lives but also have severe socio-economic impacts on the country.

The National Disaster Office must be financially supported by the government and NGOs to ensure that it has the capability to launch sea, air, road, fire, and natural disaster responses and search and rescue at a moment’s notice. The launched and endorsed disaster framework 2017 to 2030 by the National Disaster Centre can be successful if disaster coordinators and management officers from each province know that early reporting will result in funds being released sooner.

Communication and coordination are vital to address all the related issues of natural disasters in and around the country. Disaster communication must be effective and in real-time. Any information from the disaster office to the targeted area (and vice-versa) should be in real time, and once received, those in targeted areas should know exactly what it means and spread it in their own little networks to stay safe.

In conclusion, a holistic approach is required to address natural disasters, and the government must support and fund a National Rescue Coordination Centre that will have diverse services, including the Fire Services, PNG Defence Force, PNG Royal Constabulary, National Maritime Safety Authority, National Road Safety Authority, Accident Investigation Commission, and Health Services. Only then will the National Disaster Office be able to fulfill its mandate to search, rescue, and save lives in times of accidents, disasters, and national emergencies.

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