While trying to manage and control COVID-19 pandemic since February of this year, Palau was also on the verge of the possible drought situation, a situation that could easily strain Palau’s resources, both human and material beyond its limit.

This was a point marked by Vice President Raynold Oilouch and Japan Ambassador H.E. Karasawa Akira at yesterday’s Turn Over Ceremony of the Enhancing Disaster and Climate Resilience in Palau  (ECDR) Project.

Japan government had granted $7.5 million dollars to Palau through United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Partnership Fund for enhancing and strengthening Palau’s capacity to handle disasters through improved infrastructure.  This project commenced March last year and will continue until 2022.

“I cannot emphasize the importance of this project, especially during this challenging time,” stated Vice President Oilouch.  “Disasters that pose immediate threat to the lives of our people are without borders.  Fortunately for us, as demonstrated by the EDCR project, valuable partnerships are also without borders.”

This initial turnover, five mobile store units, 2 HF Manpack radios and a standby generator, altogether worth $84,296 dollars, were turned over to National Emergency Management Office.  Other projects coming down the pipeline aim to strengthen other stakeholders disaster responses such as national weather service, construction of AM radio towers, State governments, public health, education and many more.

Ambassador Akira said that the Hurricane Harold in the South Pacific during this pandemic shows us that “natural disasters may occur regardless of such situation…therefore it is truly important for us to have enough capacity to prepare for any natural disasters that Palau may face in the future.”  He said Japan approved $7.5 million dollars for Palau in partnership with UNDP to “improve Palau’s resilience to disasters and climate vulnerability.”  Ambassador Akira said more equipment are on the way and he hoped that at the conclusion of the project that Palau’s capacity to handle natural disasters has been strengthened.

Palau faced two super typhoons back to back in 2012 and 2013 and one of the harshest droughts Palau has ever experienced in 2016.  Since then Palau with assistance of its partners and allies has been building its disaster response capacity in anticipation of more frequent and severe natural disasters due to climate change.

The project output will incorporate and integrate gender and social inclusion in all aspects according to Aleyda Valdes, UNDP Country Project Coordinator, “responding to urgent and unpredicted needs arising out of slow/sudden onset of natural hazards impacting livelihoods, economy, and persistent inequalities.”