Members of the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC-6) have been urged to remember the needs of people with disability in their work to protect members of Pacific communities from all hazards.

The message from the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) was voiced by Ms Litia Naitanui, of Fiji, who reminded the Council on Wednesday that in times of disasters, the needs of people with disability are often ignored.

“Often when warnings are issued, many of us cannot understand or do not get it at all. We don’t get the information we require either because of our geographical locations or we are just not thought of at all,” she said. “We do not get access to evacuation centers because we don’t have the means and sometimes because the roads to the shelters are not conducive to our needs.”

Ms Litia Naitanui took part in the sixth Meeting of the Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC-6), where officials have gathered to discuss and explore opportunities to strengthen weather, climate, water, ocean and related development services in the context of sustainable development.

PMC-6 precedes the first Development Partners and Donors Engagement Meeting (DPDEM-1) and the third Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology (PMMM-3) from 14 – 18 August 2023, hosted by the Government of Fiji through the Fiji Meteorological Service.

The meetings attended by Government Ministers, members of the PMC, officials from SPREP member countries and territories, development partners, Council of the Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP), United Nations’ agencies, collaborating organisations and institutions are guided by the theme: “Sustaining Weather, Climate, Water and Ocean Services for a Resilient Blue Pacific.”

When she addressed the Council, Ms Naitanui appealed that they consider effective means of communications suitable to vulnerable communities like them.

“There is a need for weather forecasts and warnings to be inclusive. Our voices and opinions matter, we need to work together. When people with disability are included at the table, then your work will be complete and inclusive.”

She added that the opportunity to address the PMC was extremely important.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to be heard. The PMC meeting has been wonderful to allow us to bridge these gaps and put our needs on the table and hopefully things will improve.”

The Pacific Disability Forum is the regional response to addressing disability issues in the Pacific.

The PDF was established in 2002 and officially inaugurated in 2004, to work towards inclusive, barrier-free, socially just, and gender equitable societies that recognize the human rights, citizenship, contribution and potential of persons with disabilities in Pacific Island Countries and territories.

*This story was developed by Sonia Dick and Tiffany Baldwin of the Vanuatu Broadcasting Corporation (VBTC) currently undertaking a work attachment with the Communications and Outreach Unit of SPREP, funded by VanKIRAP.

The Sixth Pacific Meteorological Council (PMC-6), the First Development Partners and Donors Engagement Meeting and the Third Pacific Ministerial Meeting on Meteorology (PMMM-3) are held in Nadi, Fiji respectively from 14 – 18 August 2023.  They follow a range of pre-PMC meetings held in Nadi Fiji from 7 – 12 August 2023.

The PMC-6, the First Development Partners and Donors Engagement Meeting and PMMM-3 is supported by a strong partnership between the following:  The Government of Fiji, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the European Union’s Intra-African Caribbean Pacific Climate Services and Related Applications (Intra-ACP) Project, United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT),  New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Climate and Oceans Support Programme in the Pacific (COSPPac), Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), Climate Risk Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Pacific Project, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Pacific Community (SPC), Varysian, GCF Funded VanKIRAP project, the People’s Republic of China's contribution to SPREP and OTT HydroMet.

For more information on the PMC-6 please visit the Pacific Met Desk website https://www.pacificmet.net/pmc-6-2023 or email [email protected] and insert PMC-6 Query in the subject line.