Pacific Response to Disaster Displacement

Location: Pacific Island Countries of Fiji, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu
Lead Agency: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)
Implementing partners: International Organization for Migration (IOM), Platform for Disaster Displacement (PDD)
Donor: European Union (DG INTPA)
Total funding: EUR 3.2 million 
Duration: August 2019 – April 2022

Project Summary

In the Pacific, at least 50,000 Islanders are at risk of being displaced by the impact of disasters and climate change each year.

In these countries, where almost all major services, settlement and tourism infrastructure are coastal, cyclones, sea-level rise and coastal flooding pose severe economic risks. Some island states–including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Vanuatu–are working to improve their resilience to disasters by strengthening their early warning systems to save lives and protect property in low-lying coastal areas. But these will not be sufficient for dealing with the long-term impacts of future natural hazards and the displacement they cause.

A lack of Pacific-focused information and data on disaster displacement and management has led governments to lead with reactive choices instead of proactive ones. Knowledge and experience on the issue is less developed in the region and there is a recognised capacity gap to monitor the issue at all levels of government.

This project aims to support regional and national efforts to reduce the risk and impact of disaster displacement on persons at risk of being displaced in developing small islands states in the Pacific.

With funding from the European Union, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) are working to generate new evidence to help governments better understand, plan for, prevent and respond to disaster displacement.

The project will contribute to better policy responses and disaster planning, as well as new and improved operational tools. To achieve this, the project is focused on four main work areas:

  1. Data Collection: helping the national disaster management offices to systematically collect, analyse, and disseminate existing and new disaster displacement risk information across sectors and at all levels of government in the region.
  2. Research & Policy: mapping legislation on disaster displacement, conducting new research on slow-onset and urban displacement, and helping to review and develop evidence-based policies and frameworks.
  3. Risk Modelling: combining climate change scenarios and current displacement information to identify disaster displacement risk hotspots, map evacuation centres, and generate decision-making tools to inform planning and policy work.
  4. Tools and Training: developing country-specific tools, methodologies, standard operating procedures, analytical frameworks, training modules and workshops to strengthen the operational response capacity of governments.

The overall objective of the PRDD project is:

To reduce the risk and impact of disaster displacement on persons at risk of being displaced in developing small islands states in the Pacific, so that targeted populations would not be displaced at all, less affected or better assisted and protected when compelled to move      

Under the noted overall objective, IOM is directly contributing to the achievement of Outcome (2):

Systems of regional, national, and local actors in the Pacific strengthened to plan for, prevent and respond to disaster displacement

 

Activity 2.1.4 Support and assist governments to integrate disaster displacement and other related forms of human mobility challenges into national and sub-national and local disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation policies and strategies. 

Activity details: IOM and the PDD are providing advice on regional and national guidelines and policy instruments on human mobility, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. As such, PDD and IOM will assist governments integrate disaster displacement and other related forms of human mobility challenges into national and sub-national and local DRR and climate change adaptation policies, strategies, and planning processes. 

Activity status: 

To date, IOM provided technical advice on the operationalization of the Solomon Islands Camp Management Sector Committee, supported Tonga’s government with the establishment of the Displacement and Evacuation Centre Management Cluster and supported the Government of Vanuatu with the establishment of the Displacement and Evacuation Centre Management. IOM also supported the Vanuatu National Disaster Displacement Office (NDMO) coordinate services and protection to those displaced by TC Harold across the country.

IOM is now developing practical recommendations for lawmakers and public officials, and those supporting them, to consider how to ensure that national laws, policies and strategies (including but not limited to displacement in climate change adaptation strategies, national adaptation planning processes, and national Disaster Risk Reduction strategies) can best provide support for those affected by disaster displacement.  

 

Activity 2.2.2a Assist NDMOs to assess and map national disaster displacement response capacity on areas including: evacuation centre mapping and key service provisions for communities at risk of displacement and provide support to NDMOs. 

Activity details: To enhance contingency planning and disaster preparedness and response, IOM and IDMC are tasked with assessing national disaster displacement response capacity and working with the NDMOs in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tonga to map emergency evacuation centres.

Activity status: 

Throughout 2020, IOM developed a greater understanding on the knowledge and capacity gaps, operational and legislative environments, and related programmes underway concerning the identification, documentation, and management of evacuation centers in the Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga and Vanuatu). Following Tropical Cyclone Harold striking Vanuatu in April 2020, IOM supported the NDMO conduct a Disaster Tracking Matrix (DTM) assessment . As part of this assessment IOM mapped the locations of 265 evacuation centers that were used for shelter by 18,538 internally displaced persons (IDPs).  

IOM is now working with CAN DO Consortium to collate information on evacuation centres located on church properties in the region, and IOM is also mapping evacuation centres located in communities at risk of disaster displacement. 

 

Activity 2.2.2b Convene regional and national capacity-building trainings and provide capacity support on: disaster displacement data collection/monitoring, disaster displacement risk, and operational response to disaster displacement​.

Activity details: To convene regional and national capacity building trainings and provide capacity support on disaster displacement data collection/ monitoring disaster displacement risk and operational response to disaster displacement.

Activity status: Due to travel restrictions imposed by governments in region due to the context of COVID-19, this activity has been postponed till late 2021.  

 

Activity 2.2.2c Develop and strengthen data collection standard operating procedures, guidance, and analysis to assess the impact of sudden onset disaster displacement. 

Activity details: In consultation with relevant stakeholders and technical experts, IOM and IDMC are developing a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and the underpinning methodology, outlining how to conduct a Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) assessments to support the NDMOs in the region, and other stakeholders, to identify the movements and needs of disaster displaced populations in future. 

Activity status: Throughout 2019 and 2020, IOM refined and contextualized a DTM methodology fit for the challenges of the Pacific. The first iteration of the methodology was trialed in Vanuatu through the DTM Round 6 assessment in October 2019 in response to Manaro Voui crater volcanic eruption in Ambae, Vanuatu; and a second trial was rolled out in June 2020 in response to T.C. Harold

Following the June 2020 report, IOM conducted a self-evaluation of the DTM assessment approach and accordingly developed a ‘lessons learnt’ report that has supported the development of the SOPs. The draft SOPs provide a comprehensive overview on how to establish and conduct a DTM programme including the assessment, analysis and publication of field information. The draft SOPs are now in a final stage of revision and being readied for formatting for final publication. The SOPs will also form the basis of the regional training as anticipated by 2.2.2b.

Lastly, in July 2020 IOM commenced the procurement and shipping of information technology equipment and software for the purpose of strengthening respective governments technical capacity to collect and analyze disaster displacement data (i.e. Solomon Islands, Kingdom of Tonga and the Republic of the Marshall Islands).  The procurement of the items was informed by an IT and knowledge capacity assessment that IOM conducted in June 2020.

Figure 1: Matthieu Gamba (IOM Consultant) interviewing community members in Pentecost, Vanuatu as part of the Displacement Tracking Matrix assessment following TC Harold in June 2020.

Activity 2.2.2e Support NDMOs and key stakeholders to collect and publish displacement data.

Activity details: IOM is supporting NDMOs and key stakeholders with conducting displacement monitoring and needs assessments following disasters. This includes conducting field data collection and analysis in provinces affected by the impact of sudden onset disaster displacement.

Activity status: In response to Tropical Cyclone Harold (T.C. Harold) which made landfall in Vanuatu on 6 April 2020, the NDMO  and the IOM undertook a Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) assessment. Implemented between 26 May to 6 June 2020, Vanuatu’s DTM identified a total of 18,538 individuals as displaced across 272 evacuation centres. 

The DTM assessment targeted populations most severely affected and most in need, including those with pre-existing vulnerabilities such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and single/child and female-headed households. The initiative, which was supported by the then newly established Displacement and Evacuation Centre Management Cluster (see activity 2.1.4) aimed at improving coordination of services and protection to displaced persons living in communal settings. Importantly the DTM assessment provided the government of Vanuatu with critical data in developing the Vanuatu recovery strategy 2020 - 2023: TC Harold & COVID-19

 

Activity 2.2.2 f Provide support to NDMOs to conduct Community Vulnerability Assessments in at-risk communities and disseminate community risk profiles. 

Activity details: The CVAs aim to provide data to support resilience-building efforts for communities at-risk of disaster displacement and enable local priorities to be identified and lead to the design of actions that contribute to national disaster reduction priorities.

Activity status: IOM is conducting CVAs in partnership with Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), Solomon Islands NDMO and Vanuatu NDMO. This follows a series of consultative workshops with national stakeholders to seek expert advice in reviewing secondary research developed on communities identified as highly exposed to disaster and vulnerable to displacement. The evidence shared at the workshop was analysed using a set of participatory exercises to measure and rank the communities risk profiles.

Those communities identified at highest of disaster displacement will now the focus of further assessments to determine the level of vulnerability, with the overall aim been to at providing the governments with critical evidence and capacity support for future resilience-building initiatives. 

Figure 2 Key findings from the Displacement Tracking Report - TC Harold June 2020

 

To learn more about this project, please consult the project brochure and visit the project webpage.

 

Contacts:

IDMC Project Manager: Nacanieli Bolo Speigth, nacanieli.bolo@idmc.ch

IOM interim Project Manager: Daniel Salmon dasalmon@iom.int