Natural hazards, ranging from cyclones to floods, droughts, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions frequently occur in the Pacific region.
The pacific island countries (including Papua New Guinea, Fiji Islands, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, and Vanuatu) rank among the world’s worst affected by disasters in terms of casualties and people impacted.
Due to climate change, the region is witnessing intense fluctuations in weather patterns, such as changing temperatures and precipitation, severe storms and rising sea levels.
What are the needs?
The Pacific is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world in terms of the recurrence, severity and scope of natural hazards.
The region is highly exposed to cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tidal surges, landslides, droughts, forest fires and volcanic eruptions, in addition to epidemics. This is compounded by environmental degradation and the negative impact of climate change.
Many Pacific island nations lack of economic diversification, are remote to major trade centres, and have strong gender inequalities. These characteristics exacerbate their vulnerability to disasters.
With a population of 10 million people spread across a vast area, the death toll and number of victims of natural hazards may appear low in standard disaster statistics. However, the Pacific countries rank among the highest in casualties and people affected per number of inhabitants.
How are we helping?
Following the violent eruption of an underwater volcano near the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific in January 2022, the EU provided €200,000 in humanitarian funding.
The humanitarian funding assisted over 7,500 people in some of the hardest hit areas. Via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU also coordinated with France the delivery of equipment, including hygiene kits, family tents, tool kits for shelters, drinking water and non-perishable food boxes.
Last year, the EU joined international action to support Papua New Guinea when as a surge in COVID-19 cases overwhelmed the Pacific countries’ health systems. We provided €1 million to (ii) support slowing down the spread of the virus in Papua New Guinea and (ii) strengthen its capacity in responding to the health impacts of the virus.
In 2020, the cyclone Harold was considered the most powerful storm to strike the South Pacific since 2016. In response to the disaster, the EU provided more than €500,000 to address pressing needs of those most affected. The aid focused on delivering emergency shelters, clothing, kitchen sets, clean water supply and hygiene kits.
The same year, the EU also supported Fiji with €800,000 in humanitarian funding to deliver emergency aid to families affected by cyclone Yasa. The storm wreaked havoc across large parts of the archipelago nation, particularly the second largest island of Vanua Levu, where the eye of the storm passed through.
Overall, the EU has provided close to €21 million in humanitarian assistance to the region since 2008, of which €12.4 million has supported disaster preparedness programmes in the Pacific.
EU humanitarian projects have assisted (i) community-based disaster preparedness actions; (ii) cooperation between community, village, provincial, regional and national levels; and (iii) the standardisation of disaster risk reduction tools. Projects are jointly implemented by public organisations and NGOs.
Last updated: 22/02/2022
Picture: Union Europe/ECHO/Edward Turvill
Facts & figures
EU humanitarian funding:
- Close to €21 million since 2008
- More than €12.4 million dedicated to disaster risk reduction