The Country Director for the United Nations World Food Programme (UN WFP), Mr Anthony Freeman and Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra during the courtesy visit.
The Country Director for the United Nations World Food Programme (UN WFP), Mr Anthony Freeman paid a courtesy visit to the Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South Pacific (USP), Professor Rajesh Chandra on 7 November 2017.
In September 2015, UN WFP opened an office in Suva, with a programme of work focused on emergency preparedness in three (3) key sectors including Emergency Telecommunications, Logistics, and Food Security.
To date, UN WFP’s programme of preparedness activities managed from its Suva office has focused on five (5) countries – Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga, with a view to increasing its country support over time.
UN WFP is also a lead agency of the Pacific Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) under the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT).
In this capacity, during times of disaster UN WFP and its partners can provide emergency telecommunications support at the request of national governments.
Professor Chandra welcome Mr Freeman to the University’s Laucala Campus and congratulated him for his posting and also congratulated UN WFP for recently becoming the latest member of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Working Group (WG).
He informed Mr Freeman that one of the roles that the University plays in addition to being a university, is that it is a member of the CROP, and is very much involved in the promotion of regional public policy and working to implement the decisions of the Leaders.
Professor Chandra noted that two (2) of the big mandates that USP has apart from its normal work, are in the areas of ICT and human resource development.
Mr Freeman said that there are a number of things, in the area of emergency preparedness that link both institutions.
One of the key things, he noted, that UN WFP does is to respond to emergency situations and provide food. However, he highlighted that the office based in Fiji is not mandated to be involved in food interventions, unless called upon.
“Our main purpose of being in the Pacific is to work with national disaster management offices and other organisations in preparedness,” Mr Freeman said.
The UN WFP office is intending to set up training programmes that could be utilised to give accreditations to those undertaking them, because Mr Freeman said that for many years, a number of aid agencies have done their in-house training, so he said that his office has put together package for training for logistics that will actually fetch international accreditation for instance, diploma programmes.
According to Mr Freeman, the idea of having an office in Suva is to make UN WFP work and once it becomes nationalised they leave, but be there just to support the team in Pacific.
Professor Chandra mentioned that the CROP ICT WG has expanded to make sure that larger number or big players come in.
“It is not a committee that does the work, but it is a group that filters things, tries to facilitate, and recognises the people who have lead responsibilities in particular areas,” Professor Chandra said.
The CROP ICT WG, he mentioned, works in line with the Pacific Regional ICT Strategic Action Plan (PRISAP), which is now getting serious, as pledged by the Ministers and supported by bigger fund providers like World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
One of the pillars of PRISAP, Professor Chandra highlighted was that it supports and encourages the effective integration of ICT in early warning system and disaster management systems.
Professor Chandra stated that during a Forum on Bandwidth in the Pacific in Samoa earlier this year, one of the things the ICT Ministers, as part of their meeting noted was that the Pacific lacked some of the emergency telecommunication equipment and the countries wanted that some of these be kept by them.
Mr Freeman agreed to the sentiment shared by the Vice-Chancellor and President and said that his organisation has been approached by some countries for support in this area.
He further mentioned that they are intending to have a Memorandum of Understanding with USP to substantiate the discussions and for possible collaborations between the two (2) organisations in future.
He was accompanied by Ms Sanya Ruggiero, Pacific Information Management and Communications Officer at UN WFP.
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