IOM and partners kick off program to strengthen disaster preparedness and response in the Republic of Palau

International Organization for Migration
View from a beach in Palau as a storm approaches
Nava Fedaeff/Shutterstock

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), the National Emergency Committee (NEC), and other key stakeholders kicked off the Inclusive Mitigation and Preparedness in Action (IMPACT) project last week (22/09) in the Republic of Palau. The project aims to build the capacity of the Government and communities of the Republic of Palau to better prepare for, mitigate, and respond to hazard events.

With funding from USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), the two-year IMPACT project of USD 885,000 will work at the state and national levels to support preparedness plans and facilitate and inform national level planning and response efforts. The project will directly engage state partners and key stakeholders to assess current capacities and gaps and will boost capacities of disaster committees to review and update preparedness and response plans, including to ensure considerations of protection and specific needs of vulnerable groups. 

“Working together with Palauans to build resilience in the face of climate change and increased weather-related hazards is a priority of the United States and this USAID project will help communities be better prepared for disasters,” said US chargé d'affaires, Jim Boughner.

Through the project, USAID and IOM will work with the national and state government partners, as well as communities to enhance coordination and ensure that information from communities are included in state preparedness plans, and that it is further fed into national level planning and response efforts through the use of tabletop activities and the prepositioning of critical supplies.

“Here in Palau, we face a host of risks to our communities, which are increasing as a result of climate change. Our communities are vulnerable to climate hazards that threaten their wellbeing and their livelihoods. Recent climate related hazards have demonstrated that we need to be ready, and we need to work together to protect our communities,” said Minister Charles Obichang, Vice Chairman of the NEC.

The Republic of Palau is vulnerable to droughts, typhoons, sea level rise, coastal erosion and storm surges linked to climate change. Typhoons, which are likely to increase in frequency, have a devastating effect on the small island nation.

In April 2021, Typhoon Surigae swept through the Republic of Palau, damaging an estimated 1,500 houses as well as critical water and power infrastructure, and leading to losses across key sectors including health, education, public works, communication and agriculture, among others.

Betty Chung, USAID Deputy Mission Director for Pacific Islands and Mongolia, stated, “Today’s activity is an important opportunity for everyone to share ideas and best practices of incorporated mitigation projects at the community level. With your valuable experience and expertise, we hope to come up with targeted interventions aimed at disaster risk reduction as well as enhanced coordination so that the communities in Palau are better prepared to respond to natural disasters.”

During the kick-off event, IOM presented achievements of predecessor projects including the Palau Emergency Preparedness and Enhanced Resilience (PEPER) and the Alii Climate Adaptation and Disaster Risk Education (Alii CADRE) projects, which supported emergency evacuation shelter improvements in seven states across the island nation, with capacity to shelter over 840 people during disasters. Over 1,000 people were trained on disaster preparedness and response topics and information campaigns.

Stakeholders in attendance further discussed relevant interventions to strengthen response and implementation approaches that best respond to the needs of vulnerable people.

“Disaster preparedness and response requires joint efforts and ongoing collaboration. The IOM-USAID-and Government of Palau partnership has enabled great support in the areas of Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction. Through the IMPACT project, this partnership will continue to work towards building more resilient communities and strengthened national response systems,” said Portia Franz Kesolei, IOM Palau Program Officer/Officer in Charge.

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