IMCSP approved at EB.A/2019
The Pacific region consists of a rich and diverse group of countries and territories, each with its own unique challenges, requiring a flexible multi-country strategy that can adapt to the needs of individual countries and their diverse populations. The region experiences an average of three major disasters a year, ranging from floods, droughts and cyclones to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Of the 20 countries where disasters cause the highest average annual losses in gross domestic product, eight are Pacific island countries and territories. In the medium to long term, climate-related disasters are expected to increase in number and scale. In addition, it appears that especially in relation to El Niño and La Niña cycles occur more frequently.
As coastal dwellers, Pacific islanders are highly susceptible to rising sea levels, which threaten the existence of the atoll nations of Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu. While all Pacific islanders are affected by such climate-related phenomena, factors such as wealth, gender, inequalities, age and mobility determine each individual’s susceptibility and resilience to disasters.
The remote and fragile ecologies of the Pacific island countries and territories as well as their small size (except for Papua New Guinea) make them exceptionally vulnerable and create significant challenges in managing the resulting risks. National disaster risk reduction and management capacities are therefore crucial for mitigating the negative impacts on local, national and regional development.
Following Tropical Cyclone Pam, which devastated Vanuatu in 2015, WFP and its partners agreed to strengthen the national disaster management offices in the Pacific island countries and territories using a cluster approach and, with the encouragement of the governments of Fiji, Australia and New Zealand, WFP opened an office in Suva, Fiji. In 2016 Fiji was hit by Tropical Cyclone Winston, the largest cyclone ever to make landfall in the southern hemisphere.
In the same year, because of the increasing impact of an El Niño induced drought, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the national disaster centre in Papua New Guinea requested WFP’s assistance. WFP responded with a short emergency operation. WFP has continued to provide support in Papua New Guinea for the enhancement of food and nutrition security analysis with a view to facilitating decision making. In 2018, WFP responded to a magnitude 7.5 earthquake with a limited emergency operation.
WFP’s effective responses in Vanuatu, Fiji and Papua New Guinea generated valuable lessons on the importance of maintaining a presence in the Pacific to facilitate greater understanding of the complex geographical, social, cultural and political issues that have implications for the success of any form of assistance intended to enhance national capacities in the region.
Over the last three years, WFP in the Pacific has led the logistics and emergency telecommunications clusters and co-led the food security cluster with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It has also co-led the Pacific regional cash working group with Oxfam and provided Papua New Guinea with assistance in the collection and analysis of data for monitoring food security and vulnerability across the country in partnership with the national disaster centre and the United Nations system.
Building on this experience and as requested by some members of the Executive Board, this interim multi-country strategic plan articulates WFP’s strategy for improving the capacity of the Pacific island countries and territories to reduce the risk of, prepare for and respond to disasters with a view of building a resilient Pacific Community. WFP’s strategy focuses on partnerships and innovation, making use of the cluster approach to lead on national capacity strengthening in logistics, emergency telecommunications and food security. The clusters are permanently activated in the Pacific as one of the mechanisms supporting national disaster management offices, which makes them the appropriate mechanism for delivering on this interim multi-country strategic plan in collaboration with our partners. Gender equality, disability inclusion and protection principles are central to the strategy, in recognition of and response to the needs of men, women, boys and girls of all ages and abilities and ensuring their participation.
This interim multi-country strategic plan will be delivered solely under Sustainable Development Goal 17, aiming to ensure that disasters that affect Pacific island countries and territories are addressed through appropriate, coordinated, timely and effective regional and national response mechanisms, in line with the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific. Links to Sustainable Development Goal 2 priorities of food security and nutrition will be addressed through the establishment of effective partnerships, especially with the Rome-based agencies and regional organizations.
All transfers provided through this interim multi-country strategic plan will take the form of capacity strengthening; no direct food assistance in the form of food or cash is envisioned. WFP recognizes the opportunity for the Pacific to function as an incubator of ideas and seeks to develop partnerships, especially with other humanitarian agencies and the private sector, to find innovative solutions to addressing data gaps and to explore alternative emergency response options.
The interim multi-country strategic plan is aligned with the United Nations Pacific Strategy (2018–2022) and the 2018–2022 United Nations development assistance framework for Papua New Guinea. It contributes to outcome 1, on climate change, disaster resilience and environmental protection,5 and outcome 2, on gender equality, of the United Nations Pacific Strategy, and outcome 3 of the United Nations development assistance framework, on the sustainable management of natural resources, biodiversity conservation and strengthened resilience to climate change impacts and disasters.