(L-R) Industrial Commissioner/Registrar, Sugar Industry Tribunal, Timothy Brown; PRRP Regional Manager for Live and Learn Environment Education, Doris Susau; PRRP Regional Programme Manager for UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Moortaza Jiwanji; and Commissioner Western Division, Manasa Tagicakibau at the launch of GIS web interface (Photo: UNDP/Jone Raqauqau)

A recently launched Geographical Information System (GIS) web-interface will allow the Office of the Commissioner Western Division to effectively make development decisions based on the risks that communities face as a result of disasters and climate change.

The GIS web-interface will ensure that people are not only better prepared for a disaster but they also deal with the root causes of disasters which assists in bridging the humanitarian development divide. 

Following a year after the most devastating cyclone to ever hit the Southern Hemisphere, the GIS platform presents an opportunity to provide the office of the Commissioner Western a holistic view of community vulnerabilities to risk. 

These hazard and development information provides a big picture of the risks that communities are likely to face during future events such as cyclones or floods. 

Launched earlier this month, the interface will allow access by the Office of the Commissioner Western Division, to the Ministry of Sugar’s GIS server, which will enable them to capture and map information relevant for development decisions and processes.

“The GIS platform allows us to risk inform our development priorities,” said Commissioner Western Division, Manasa Tagicakibau.  

“It will allow us to learn from the last disaster and make appropriate changes so that damage is minimised should a future disaster occur,” said Mr Tagicakibau.

The GIS web-interface was made possible through the partnership between the Office of the Commissioner Western Division and the Sugar Tribunal under the Ministry of Sugar.

 “Initially we were using GIS mapping for sugarcane farmers only and we realised that the information we gather is the information that everyone else requires,” said the Industrial Commissioner/Registrar, Sugar Industry Tribunal, Timothy Brown. 

 “Everyone goes to the Office of the Commissioner Western Division for various issues regarding disasters, electricity coverage, access to water and so forth.” 

“During the consultation period, we highlighted that since we had the capacity and the resources to gather and process data related to disasters such as number of households, number of domestic violence cases reported and disability information, among others, we thought we could provide this baseline information to the Commissioner”, said Mr. Brown. 

“The current progress in the Western Division is indeed an accomplishment that contributes to building on a risk resilient nation,” said Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP) Regional Manager for Live and Learn Environment Education (LLEE), Doris Susau.

“This platform will introduce both decision makers and users to the potential that Geo-Spatial Information has, so that users can make risk informed and timely development decisions such as to where people are relocated in times of a disaster, as well as how properties and livestock can be saved during the event of a disaster,” said Ms Susau. 

“Risk informed development means that we can break the pattern of usual headlines of disasters. The fundamental root causes are not just the cyclones,” said PRRP Regional Programme Manager for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, Moortaza Jiwanji. 

“It’s the way in which we practice development. If it is not risk informed, then it is not sustainable. It is not just the issue for climate change and disaster risk reduction practitioners, it is everyone’s business and this initiative is a concrete example.”

PRRP works with Pacific Island nations and their people to mainstream risks they face from climate change and disasters into development at all levels. Risk governance means tackling risk management issues but from within governance mechanisms. Improved risk governance will enable communities to benefit from development, whilst at the same time minimise negative consequences from climate change impacts and disasters.

This risk governance approach is delivered through a partnership between the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji and international non-government organization, LLEE, and supported by the Australian Government. PRRP is being delivered in four countries: Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Contact information

Jone Raqauqau, UNDP PRRP Communications Associate, email: jone.raqauqau@undp.org, tel: (679) 330 1976 or (679) 9936 744

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