Posted on 14 November 2022
November marked the start of the South Pacific cyclone season. Forecasts for this season predict up to seven tropical cyclones, with four of these likely to be severe.
Last cyclone season taught New Zealand humanitarian and emergency response organisations that they need to be prepared not just for cyclones but for a range of natural disasters. Although the last cyclone season was a relatively quiet one, the response to the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption and tsunami still required significant organisational coordination, and support from the New Zealand public.
“With memories of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption and tsunami still fresh in our minds, it is important that we get the response right when it comes to the generous support of the New Zealand public”, says Aaron Davy, Humanitarian Manager at Council for International Development. “Unfortunately, too many containers are still being filled with unneeded goods that were never requested nor expected by authorities in the Pacific already dealing with a crisis.”
Following volcano eruption at the beginning of this year, Tonga received more than 200 shipping containers of aid supplies, including 86,000 bottles of water. At the time, Tonga Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni stated that “[international] assistance brought just over 114,600 litres [of water] that came in plastic bottles meaning about 86,000 water bottles of 1.5 litres.” The level of pollution and landfill this creates is especially staggering when considering this was received within the first month following the crisis.
The challenge of unsolicited donations is not a new issue. After Tropical Cyclone Pam (2015) and Tropical Winston (2016) hundreds of containers filled with teddy-bears, bottles of water, perishable food and second-hand clothing were sent to the Pacific. Over half of donated goods end up in Pacific landfills.
The Council for International Development, in partnership with the World Food Programme, continues to support the New Zealand public to donate as effectively as possible following a disaster. The Donate Responsibly campaign is an important part of educating the public on how to best support the Pacific, and giving cash remains the best response following an emergency.
“We know the kiwi public wants to help, and that we want to do this in a way that truly supports impacted communities. My hope this season is that we donate in a way that strengthens Pacific economies still dealing with the negative impacts of the covid pandemic.”
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