Koror, Palau – Typhoon Surigae highlighted the importance of having safe community evacuation shelters throughout Palau. In addition to having safe buildings to accommodate evacuees, it is important to pre-train people to operate, receive, and provide assistance to evacuees aligned with the government of Palau’s standards and procedures. Through funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA) the International Organization for Migration (IOM) partnered with the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), Palau Red Cross Society (PRCS) and the Ministry of Education, to continue to build communities’ resilience to natural disasters. Working to improve evacuation centers and preparations to activate them during disasters, IOM and its partners carried out an Emergency Evacuation Shelter Management Training for 12 participants (7 females, 5 males) in the state of Ngeremlengui on August 25, 2021. Ngeremlengui State is centrally located in the main Babeldaob Island and is the third state to receive this training.
All participants were trained on best practices for operating an emergency evacuation shelter, including set-up and operation, basic international humanitarian standards, care and maintenance of the facilities, and closure of an evacuation center. During the training, participants also gained understanding of key roles and responsibilities to oversee an emergency evacuation center. Finally, participants designated individuals for each of those roles at their respective shelters.
The training took place at the Ngeremlengui State Government Building, the government-designated shelter. Building on IOM’s Climate Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction & Education (CADRE) Program that improved the structural strengthening of the Ngeremlengui State Government Building with typhoon shutters for windows and doors, the joint IOM and USAID’s Palau Enhanced Protection and Emergency Response (PEPER) project provided an additional typhoon shutter to complete the entire building and the evacuation shelter management training.
Based on available area and the international Sphere standards — with consideration that the shelters are intended for short-term use — it is estimated that the Ngeremlengui State Building shelter can accommodate up to 28 families or 140 persons for a short-term period.
The U.S. Ambassador to Palau, H.E. John Hennessey-Niland, stated: “I’ve experienced firsthand the devastation that typhoons can bring to Palau and the importance for the community to have a safe haven from the severe winds and rain. The U.S. has been working to support the efforts of NEMO to upgrade and retrofit existing evacuation shelters to be even safer and ready for the next time they need to be utilized. This collaboration has also been a strong example of civil-military cooperation with the US CAT team assisting in the installation and construction upgrade work alongside the Palau government and IOM.”