âIn the wake of Cyclone Pam in 2015, Bethan Greener and I argued for the creation of a Disaster Response and Coordination Unit within the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. After Category 5 Cyclone Winston devastated parts of Fiji last weekend, the need for greater regional coordination and cooperation in disaster preparedness and response is all the more apparent. This means harnessing the opportunity presented by disaster diplomacy and establishing an inter-regional coordination and cooperation body akin to the Forum Fisheries Agency.
Cyclone Winston is the second strongest storm ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. After two weeks of build up, the cyclone cut a swathe across the Fiji Islands killing at least 42 people. The Fijian Government has been commended for its preparedness which was a contributing factor in reducing fatalities. When the cyclone made landfall on Saturday, over 700 evacuation centres had been established, a curfew was in place, and all leave for military and police personnel had been cancelled. The Government has since declared a State of Emergency as recovery and reconstruction begins.