A 5 days "Country Level Inter-Agency Contingency Planning Workshop for Humanitarian Assistance in Solomon Islands" is currently taking place in Honiara.

Addressing the official opening of the workshop, the Director of the National Disaster Management Office, Loti Yates, acknowledged the support of the Solomon Islands Government, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) for making the workshop possible.

The main objective of the workshop is to bring together response actors to jointly review the existing disaster response mechanisms both at national and regional level and better prepare for future disaster.

Mr. Yates highlighted that Solomon Islands has had its shares of disaster in the past years and during those times, coordination between SIG agencies, NGO's and the international responses agencies had not worked out well.

He stressed his pleasure in having seen diverse participation from government both at national and provincial level, Red Cross, NGO's, and Un Agencies in the workshop.

He said disaster in the past years has highlighted challenges and importance in preparedness to launch an effective and predictable humanitarian relief operation.

Among presentations at the workshop will be key outcomes of a regional workshop held in July last year.

The key outcomes to be presented is expected to improve effectiveness, predictably and timeliness of international assistance in the region.

Mr. Yates said Solomon Islands as part of the review of its Disaster Risk Management Arrangements is also planning to introduce their new national disaster response structure, based on national cluster approach.

"It will be a good opportunity to test the national cluster approach in conjunction with the regional cluster response approach, no doubt in the upcoming presentations, specific objective of the workshop and the programmes will be presented to you."

He urged all government officers to know their role in their respective ministries in the event of any disasters.

"As it has been the case, the NDC/NDMO has to pick up the pieces and try to make sense out of things, let us start taking the lead as we know that our donor friends will help but the commitment must be from us," he challenged participants.

He further challenges donors and external disaster response actors that Solomon Islands government is bending over backwards to make sure response mechanisms and structures in place are working.