Premier of Temotu province still fighting problems caused by recent tsunami | Pacific Beat

Premier of Temotu province still fighting problems caused by recent tsunami

Premier of Temotu province still fighting problems caused by recent tsunami

Updated 20 March 2013, 12:05 AEDT

The Premier of Temotu province in Solomon Islands says local media misrepresented his concerns over World Vision's response to last month's earthquake and tsunami.

In its Sunday edition, the Solomon Star newspaper quoted Father Charles Brown Beu as saying the non government organisation conducted its relief operation without listening to government agencies.

Father Beu has since apologised for some of the comments, but says he stands by his criticism about poor communication.

But World Vision and federal government officials say it's been one of the most effective and well co-ordinated responses to a disaster ever seen in the country.

Presenter: Emma Younger

Speakers: Father Charles Brown Beu, Premier of Temotu province; Andrew Catford, World Vision's Solomon Islands program director

YOUNGER: On February 6, relief organisations in Solomon Islands were spurred into action by a magnitude 8 earthquake off the Santa Cruz islands which triggered a tsunami.

10 people were killed and more than 4,500 were displaced after the 3-metre wave hit Temotu province, travelling up to a kilometre inland.

Since then, in partnership with the National Disaster Management office, World Vision has led the delivery of emergency supplies, as the only NGO with a permanent office in the province.

Six weeks after the disaster, the Premier of Temotu province, Father Charles Brown Beu was quoted by the Solomon Star newspaper as saying he was unhappy with how the NGO was distributing relief supplies.

It's a statement he's since apologised for.

BEU: My apologies to World Vision in terms of the comments that were put in the paper, some of which were mine and others people just put in my name. I wish to tell World Vision I have no hard feelings with them, against them, and all I wanted was at least please give me a report of what's going on and what plans are underway still to be executed.

YOUNGER: Premier Beu says that's made it difficult to update locals on what's going on.

His concerns have now been addressed by World Vision who met with him yesterday to deliver an update on the relief effort.

The NGO's Solomon Islands program director Andrew Catford says contrary to the Premier's statement, daily updates have been filed.

CATFORD: We put in a daily report to the provincial disaster office, which the Premier's office is on that committee, so there's the ability daily to hear that report which is what we've been doing for the last period and certainly when I'm in Temotu I always go and see the Premier so we've been doing that.

YOUNGER: Premier Beu says apart from his concerns about a lack of communication, he was misquoted by the Solomon Star as having other grievances.

BEU: My concern was coordination of the relief supplies between World Vision and the rest of the other non government organisations who are here at the moment. But my disappointment did not relate to the way they distribute the goods.

YOUNGER: Premier Beu says those complaints are not his, but have come from some members of the community.

BEU: They're saying that some people who should be receiving the relief supplies were not getting it and others who should not be given assistance at this point in time were the ones getting those things.

YOUNGER: World Vision's Andrew Catford says those complaints have been few and far between.

CATFORD: In a sort of large relief distribution you're always likely to have the odd grumble. To be honest, and the National Disaster Management Office is of the same opinion as this, there's been actually very few this time compared to other events. And one of the reasons for that is that we've actualyl done this distribution a little bit differently with the Disaster Management Office. Often what happens in the Solomons is that items are distributed just blanket across the population whether you're affected or not affected so in this case this hasn't been done because of the scale of the event and also in the interests of following following good practice. So items have only gone to the people affected, the warehouse where things were kept was controlled a bit more carefully so that people couldn't just come and help themselves, which has been the case in the past in the Solomons, and also people weren't given preferential treatment. So if you were a senior government figure you got the same treatment as everyone else and as a result of those systems people actually feel it's a lot fairer than usual.

YOUNGER: About 100 people are still living in tents next to the soccer field in Lata, waiting for relief supplies to come in so they can rebuild their homes.

Premier Beu says it'll be up to the community to decide whether they want to rebuild on the same land or move elsewhere.

BEU: Normal business is already up and running although they're not sure as to when rehabilitation of homes will start. But people of Temotu please don't just sit down and wait for the relief or the rehabilitation process. Start doing something.

YOUNGER: World Vision's Andrew Catford says a humanitarian action plan has been drawn up to address issues of water supply, sanitation and damage to infrastructure like schools and food gardens.

CATFORD: A lot of the work will be done over six weeks but for some of the items that take a little bit longer, like re-establishing water supply systems and schools, that may take up to 24 months for the longest duration projects to be completed.

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