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Samoa’s first Braille-translated Disaster Risk Management materials launched

Apia, SAMOA —  A total of 200 (100 Samoan & 100 English) braille-translated Disaster Risk Management booklets for the benefit of People’s with Disabilities in particular the blind or visually impaired community; were officially launched on Monday June 19, 2023. The launching event was witnessed and attended by a number of guests to include the Deputy High Commissioner of the NZ High Commission and members of the Umbrella for People with Disabilities, Nuanua ole Alofa (NOLA) & Samoa Blind Persons Association and various organizations that play advocacy roles to support people with disabilities.

It is a milestone and an accomplishment that reflects the government of Samoa’s commitment in achieving its global and local obligations around Disaster Risk Management, taking into consideration the Inclusiveness – Whole of Society approach, to ensure that meaning is strongly emphasized to the concept that ‘No One is Left Behind’ in all phases of Disaster Risk Management. The design and development of these braille translated Disaster Risk Management awareness booklets costed a SAT $33,500.00, generously funded by the NZ Government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) DRM Project/Programme monitored by the MNRE as the Implementing Agency. The NZ NEMA DRM Project is a six-year project which commenced in 2019 until 2024 with the ultimate goal to strengthen Disaster Risk Management across risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery in targeted Pacific Island Countries to include Samoa.

The Disaster Management Office (DMO) of the MNRE worked in close collaboration with Nuanua ole Alofa (NOLA) & the Samoa Blind Persons Association to bring this initiative into fruition, to ensure that these booklets were produced and made available for ease of access and reference by the blind community. All braille equipment was procured from the Blind People’s Association as the only agency qualified to provide the specifications for the booklets. It is understood that disasters are becoming frequent. Sadly, people with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable to these disasters or hazards, unfortunately there is a lack of

disaster-related information and resources available to increase their awareness of the potential risks they are exposed to. For this reason, an initiative to translate the existing disaster risk management awareness materials into braille was successfully delivered basically to support the visually impaired community, providing measures that would build their capacity and enhance their preparedness abilities to respond to the most extreme disasters that Samoa is prone to.

The booklets contain basic information on ‘What to Do’ in the event of disasters such as tropical cyclones, river floods, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and fire, translated both in Samoan and English. Having these braille booklets developed is a significant achievement for Samoa where the blind persons and visually impaired will, for the first time be able to read these DRM awareness materials to enhance their resilience and preparations in response to disasters & emergencies. Followed by the successful launching event was the hand over presentation of these braille booklets to the Samoa Blind People’s Association through NOLA for educational purposes and for dissemination to the blind community.

This milestone achievement further reaffirms Samoa’s commitment to contribute positively towards the realization of regional and international goals under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the 2015 Paris Agreement for Climate Change, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific 2017-2030 and importantly the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006 which Samoa has ratified. It is with high hopes that this work is replicated to other priority sectoral activities in Samoa.

The keynote address was delivered by the Acting Chief Executive Officer Moafanua Tolusina Afuvai Pouli on behalf of the Ministry (MNRE) and remarks on behalf of the NZ Government by Deputy High Commissioner, Lavea’i Ioane. Tiaena Herbert Bell on behalf of the Blind Person’s Association was given the honour to address few remarks to thank the government and to acknowledge the NZ Government for the financial support to bring this initiative to fruition.