Post TC Winston research vital for recovery and resilience
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Panellists of the PaCE-SD panel discussion from (L-R) Dr John Lowry,Dr Helene Jacot Des Combes, Dr Cresantia Koya-Vaka'uta, Mr Timothy Wilcox and Dr Awnesh Singh.
Collaboration on research among university faculties and practitioners, as well as effective communication of the outcomes to communities, is necessary for effective disaster risk management in the Pacific.
This was highlighted in a panel discussion organised by The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) on 11 April 2016, which discussed research topics related to Tropical Cyclone Winston.
The panel discussion is part of PaCE-SD’s weekly seminar series and was organised in an effort to catalyse a research programme at USP that focuses on TC Winston with the long-term goal of building disaster resilience.
The panel comprised USP’s senior lecturer in Education Dr Cresantia Koya Vaka’uta, Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Pacific - Mr Timothy Wilcox, the Public Information Officer for United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Ms Danielle Parry, PaCE-SD’s Course Coordinator for Disaster Risk Management Course, Dr Helene Jacot Des Combes and a Physical Oceanographer and Lecturer in Tropical Meteorology and Climate Science at PaCE-SD, Dr Awnesh Singh.
According to the panel, it was important for faculties, NGOs and other practitioners to collaborate on research to ensure that all aspects of the topic were taken into consideration.
Suggestions were made by panellists for research into various topics ranging from analysis of damages post TC Winston, data collection for identifying needs and gaps, importance of clear early warning messages, information flow for effective communication between authorities and communities as well as psychological impacts of disasters.
Dr Vaka’uta highlighted the need to investigate the impact of disasters on first responders, who would be traumatised by what they see in affected communities.
“Mental health research is critical as there is currently no existing information on this,” she said.
She added there is a need for research in quantifying the economic cost of psychological damage after natural disasters like TC Winston.
The panel also highlighted the need to effectively communicate the output of the research to relevant authorities and at community level for the research to be worthwhile.
Other discussions included indigenous knowledge, a review of climate change/disaster related education syllabus, infrastructure, building codes, impact of storm surges, relation between El Nino and cyclones, and climate change and cyclones.
The forum was moderated by Geographer and USP Lecturer Dr John Lowry.
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