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Palau upholds gender equality, social inclusion in disaster risk management

1 March 2021

Palau has taken concrete action to leave no one behind in its disaster risk management efforts. Forty-two (42) staff (21 women and 21 men) from the public sector and civil society organisations who engage in national and community disaster risk management in Palau received training to integrate a gender, age, disability and cultural perspective in policies and practices of disaster risk management.

The two-day workshop was opened in the capital Koror on Wednesday 10 February 2021 by Palau’s National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), Bureau of Ageing, Disability and Gender (BADG), and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). This was in partnership with Palau Red Cross, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Pacific Community (SPC), and Omekesang Association of Palau, a civil society organisation working for the rights of persons with disabilities.

The training was conducted by UNDP through the ‘Enhancing Disaster and Climate Resilience through Improved Disaster Preparedness and Infrastructure’ (EDCR) project. The workshop emphasised the importance of protection, gender and social inclusion in Palau’s cultural context, and highlighted the importance of integrating these aspects in disaster management before, during and after an emergency, in accordance with the Palau Disaster Risk Management Framework, the Gender Mainstreaming Policy and National Disability Inclusive Policy.

The EDCR project was initiated in March 2019, and is funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Government of Palau. In line with The Palau 2020: National Master Plan for Development, the EDCR project supports Palau’s efforts to increase resilience to climate disasters and other related hazards through strengthening preparedness and adaptive capacity of institutions, systems and communities. The project focuses on strengthening gender responsiveness while encouraging an inclusive approach to national and community disaster risk management.

The project’s three expected outputs include strengthened gender-sensitive disaster communication and climate-monitoring systems, enhanced gender-sensitive national and state disaster responders’ readiness capacity, and enhanced community disaster resilience through improved water resource management, and integrated gender and social inclusion awareness.

The Pacific Community (SPC) contributed to the workshop through the Progressing Gender Equality in the Pacific (PGEP) programme which works with Pacific Island governments to support gender mainstreaming efforts and accountability mechanisms. PGEP is implemented by SPC’s Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) Division and is funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Support Unit. Additional technical content for the workshop were provided by BADG, Omekasang Association of Palau, Palau Red Cross and IFRC.

Mr. Waymine Towai, NEMO Executive Director welcomed participants saying, “Disaster risk reduction requires an all-of-society engagement and partnership. It also requires empowerment and inclusive, accessible and non-discriminatory participation, as underlined in the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.” He urged participants to improve their knowledge and strengthen partnerships.

His Excellency Karasawa Akira, Ambassador of Japan to Palau encouraged participants in his opening remarks saying, “We have provided and will provide Palau with a lot of products related to disaster prevention. At the same time, we consider it important to conduct several trainings and workshops through this project. This is because a set of equipment we provide to Palau would be more effective with people’s awareness and knowledge towards disaster prevention.”

Mr. Miles Young, Director of HRSD at SPC, said, “The workshop demonstrated the fact that the Government of Palau and its development partners including SPC, share the same objective of ensuring that the country’s disaster risk management framework protects all members of the population, especially the most vulnerable communities, is aligned with the local context, and takes into account relevant cultural considerations. SPC is grateful for the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Government of Palau and development partners to achieve this shared objective.”  

Levan Bouadze, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative said, “UNDP supports partners to engage women and socially, economically and culturally vulnerable populations to disasters as stakeholders in successful planning and implementation of disaster risk reduction policies. I am certain, thanks to Japan’s support to this project and strong commitment made by the partners in Palau and the Pacific, no one will be left behind in Palau’s disaster risk management.”

Participants also gained knowledge about approaches on gender concepts, the collection of quantitative and qualitative data disaggregated by sex, gender, age including disability and other variables that capture situations of vulnerable communities and a rights-based approach to gender and social inclusion analysis in disaster risk management work.

The EDCR project supports Palau’s Sustainable Development pathway in relation to Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation; Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries; Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

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