Papers & Submissions

End of 2019/20 South Pacific Cyclone Season Report

Posted on 18 August 2020

By Aaron Davy

Read the full report here

Purpose of this Report

The localised response experienced in Vanuatu during the 2019/ 2020 cyclone season is not a unique case. International humanitarian responses to Cyclone Amphan in Bangladesh and India (May 2020), and monsoon-flooding in Bangladesh (July 2020), were restricted due to COVID restrictions. Pandemic restrictions also impeded emergency response efforts to Typhoon Vongfang in the Philippines (May 2020). Furthermore, it can be argued that, many of the lessons-learnt and opportunities for clarity that a localised response during a pandemic might also inform response support in other situations of limited access, such Myanmar and Syria2.

In the following days of these events, a substantive amount of otherwise standardized international response actions were ‘shut outside’ coordinated localised initiatives. INGOs were somewhat left sitting on the side-lines to contemplate exactly what ongoing restrictions and limited humanitarian access might mean to traditional humanitarian programming partnerships and operating models. Yet, the concept of localisation is not new.

The concept of localisation has been discussed in numerous seminars and surveys both internationally and domestically (within New Zealand) by the sector, including two workshops and a survey facilitated by CID and the Pacific Islands Association of NonGovernmental Organisations (PIANGO), and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID). The feedback and findings from these suggest that the implementation and substantiation of ‘localisation’ appears to be at best inconsistent, and at worst somewhat guarded and non-committal

As such, the theme of the 2019/ 2020 South Pacific Cyclone Season Report is the ‘enforced localisation’ triggered in the response to severe cyclones like TC Harold. This report will not only provide a snapshot of the season itself but will also review the barriers and opportunities that restrictions - such as those relating to the COVID pandemic - might present to the implementation of localisation. A review of previous literature on regional localisation is further collated, to provide a broader summary of recommendations. These are particularly relevant to INGO partners who in future, wish to address access restrictions and genuinely support local response initiatives, including by remote.


Pacific Islands Humanitarian Emergency Management