Red Cross staff and volunteers in Papua New Guinea receive hands-on training to prepare them for future disasters

Published: 18 July 2016 6:10 CET

By Simon Nianfop, Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society

The Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society has recently given more than 58 staff and volunteers Emergency Response Training, to help them prepare and respond to disasters and emergencies.

Papua New Guinea is prone to floods, landsides during the wet season and armed conflicts between ethnic groups.

The four-day training was carried out with the support of the Australian Red Cross, New Zealand Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The national society has only been carrying out these trainings since 2013, with the first one held in Popondetta Northern Province.

During the four-day workshop, participants learned about the different phases of disaster management and when to provide assistance in impacted communities, as well as assessing and analysing a situation and reporting using the right channels to mobilise support.

Volunteer Ms. Alice Daniel from the Red Cross’ New Ireland branch said the training was useful. “Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society is not only building the capacity of volunteers and staff, but also the capacity of the province.”

Ms. Elsah Sianot from the Red Cross Lihir sub-branch said regular trainings are a good idea. “This is my first time attending a Disaster Management training. In May we experienced a king tide, and I had no knowledge and experience to help people back then. I found the workshop’s disaster assessment session very interesting.”

National Disaster Management Coordinator Michael Sembenombo said the training was an eye-opener for many participants, and he is pleased the national society now has so many trained staff and volunteers. “The training was well organised and hosted by the New Ireland Red Cross Branch and following the training there was a need for further partnership with government and non-government organisations to address issues that can cause natural and man-made disasters in the country.”

Nine Papua New Guinea Red Cross branches, encompassing 180 volunteers, have so far completed the training, while another four branches are expected to complete it this year.

For nearly 40 years, the Red Cross and its partners have been at the forefront of all the phases of disaster management in Papua New Guinea. Mr Sembenombo said this solid track record is the reason partner agencies such as the Provincial Government Disaster Committees, UNDP, Care International, Oxfam International and World Vision are happy to collaborate with the national society in disaster preparedness and response.