Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tsunami Assistance Package

During our short time in Honiara, Rt Hon Winston Peters announced New Zealand would provide a $7.5 million assistance package to help the Western Province region recover from April’s earthquake and tsunami.

Fifty-two people died, 9000 were affected, and around 6000 homes and other buildings were damaged or destroyed. Three months later, 4000 families are still living in makeshift camps, and there is a widespread need to rebuild basic infrastructure, especially health clinics, water, sanitation, housing, roads, bridges and wharves.

New Zealand’s assistance will focus on helping to restore education, rebuild lost livelihoods – especially in fisheries – and repair homes and transport infrastructure.

Education is a natural focus for NZ assistance - NZAID is the lead donor to the primary education sector in Solomon Islands and has the strong relationships and understanding of the sector necessary to successfully support this work.

An important component of the fisheries assistance will be supporting and awareness programme to spread the message that fishing is safe and that after a terrifying event such as a tsunami people do not need to be afraid of the sea.

This is something I saw in Sri Lanka after the Asian Tsunami – many fishing villages had been provided with new fishing equipment and facilities, but no one was using them because of the fear of the sea.

As Minister Peters said when announcing the package, recovery in the tsunami zone will be a monumental task and New Zealand is happy to support the Solomon Islands Governments efforts to return people's lives to normal as soon as possible.


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