WelCom May 2020:
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand says the threat of Covid-19 transmission in the Pacific has to be taken into account when responding with humanitarian support efforts to areas impacted by natural disasters. Local communities must be empowered to take action and make decisions based on their own needs and capabilities.
For Caritas, the principle of subsidiarity as a foundation in their work – ensuring decisions are taken at a local level – has enabled them to respond to Cyclone Harold through support with their partners in the Pacific. Cyclone Harold was a very powerful tropical cyclone in early April 2020 that caused widespread destruction affecting thousands in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga.
‘While we can’t be physically present with those who have been affected, we still retain the ability to respond,’ says Caritas Director Julianne Hickey. ‘Our long-term relationships with local communities provide direct avenues for us to contribute our support to those most in need.’
In Port Vila, Caritas enabled a local warehouse to dispatch emergency stock to the areas in Vanuatu hit hardest by Cyclone Harold. Over $100,000 worth of essential supplies – including food, water, tarpaulins and kitchen sets – were made ready to send out to local communities.
Caritas Humanitarian Coordinator George Fa’alogo had visited Port Vila in October 2019 to review emergency supply stock and to train people how to use water filtration systems. Caritas’ long-term relationship, communication and cooperation with the Diocese of Port Vila enabled a quick and effective response to urgent needs of those impacted by the cyclone.
‘The width and depth of our relationships is our strength,’ says Mr Fa’alogo. ‘We rely on the concept of subsidiarity to build the capacity of our partners in times of peace so we can work together to launch effective programmes in times of crisis.’
These efforts are supported by funds raised through Caritas’ Lent Appeal and Pacific Relief Fund. During the lockdown in New Zealand, Caritas has been able to accept donations through their website and by direct credit.
Caritas is working with partners on the ground across the Pacific and around the world to support vulnerable communities as they respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, including Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Timor Leste as well as Cambodia and the Holy Land.
The focus is on prevention, preparedness and response; consistent messages throughout communities about the risk of infection and how Covid-19 spreads; awareness about personal hygiene and shared spaces; gathering resources such as food, water and beds; and distributing life-saving supplies such as soap and hand sanitiser.
You can donate to the Caritas Pandemic Appeal online at caritas.org.nz to support local communities in the Pacific and around the world with their Covid-19 prevention and preparation efforts.