The planning of community based early warning systems in one selected village on Abaiang is underway. This is a nationally driven initiative supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the Finland-Pacific (FINPAC) Project.
Kiribati Meteorological Service (KMS) Director Ueneta Toorua is happy that the Media Training and the community early warning consultation and pilot projects planned will benefit his country. According to Toorua "the role of the Media remains critical in getting the warnings out to our people especially those in outer islands, and this opportunity will also help my staff to work better with the media and develop a Glossary of Meteorology terminology- something we wanted to do for a long time".
The most reliable means of communicating warnings to outer islands in Kiribati is through radio. However that service closes at 10pm at night. "We have been very fortunate that we haven't experienced a disaster at night, so this is a good opportunity to be creative and put simple, economically sustainable communication systems in place to provide early warning. For us the pilot project in one village on Abaiang is already a good start" said Toorua.
Kiribati Red Cross values the new partnership to work closely with the KMS and National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) as a new partner to the Whole of Island Approach in Abaiang. Disaster Risk Reduction Manager for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Mr. Lesu Waqaniburotu says "Kiribati Red Cross is slowly progressing and disaster preparedness is a key area in our community work. It is important that we complement the work done already and we look forward to be part of this ongoing partnership with Met Service and NDMO".
The planned activities are expected to kick-off in Mid April. A small scale pilot project to assist with the establishment of early warning systems in Abaiang will be funded by FINPAC and the World Meteorological Organization through the WMO-Canada Project. FINPAC is funded by the Government of Finland.
Members of the Kiribati National Expert Group travelling to the islets of Abaiang for Whole of Island approach (Photo Credit: Hanna Sabass)