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Disaster Management projects launched at USP

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 13/04/2018

An accredited course launched this morning for Tongan leaders to manage projects that prevent and mitigate the impacts of natural disasters would be greatly beneficial to the nation’s disaster management capacity.

The course was launched by the US Embassy Suva’s Senior Regional Security Officer, Mr. Shawn Gray, at the University of the South Pacific, Tonga Campus.

The course is part of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) partnership with the University of the South Pacific to help Pacific Island countries become more environmentally and disaster resilient.

The lecturer from USP Fiji, Ranju Kumar is currently in the Kingdom to deliver the face to face components of the course, which is a Certificate IV in Project Management.

“After they successfully complete the three units they walk away with very good qualifications in the project management, Certificate IV. And the group we have here is a very committed group because they come from the government ministries and they have got a lot of experience and they are usually at the implementation stage of the project life cycle, but for now I guess this is the first time that they get introduced to some formal education in project management itself so I guess they should be able to blend the practice of project management with all theory and the concepts that we are sharing,” Kumar said.

The five-month course will help leaders strengthen the participants management skills to design and implement disaster resilience projects which would ultimately be valuable contribution to their workplace.

“This particular program actually prepares all my students to have a formal appreciation of the concepts, the methodologies, the tools and the techniques that the project management offers. So what happens is that after this training they could apply all this knowledge in their official workplace and the gaps or the variances with regards to the knowledge they had, takes care of, during this training. I’m pretty sure and really confident that it will really add a lot of value to the completion of their current projects, and in future, if they have to pick up more projects on behalf of the government, they will be very well informed and educated with regard to the structure, and the background and the methodologies regarding project management,” Kumar said.

Tonga is viewed as one of the front line countries when it comes to climate change effects and there are a lot of practitioners here in Tonga who manage projects.

However, principal climate finance analyst from the Climate Change Department of the ministry of MEIDECC, Talolakepa Fulivai says not many of those practitioners actually have a formal training on how to manage climate change projects, therefore this course is a constructive way to bridge these gaps

“Making sure that there is some level of, I guess – qualifications, for practitioners here in Tonga to be able to back them up when it comes to approaching how to implement climate change projects here in Tonga,” Fulivai said.

With Climate Change being a concern to the natural disaster prone island nation, this course is one of the steps towards building a more resilient Tonga, through climate change project management.

“The outcomes we’re looking at is providing the participants with a broader view on what climate change really is, and how we can address climate change as a whole. There are many facets to climate change such as mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, finance, and courses like this course, brings that all together and what they build on from here you can actually apply to – not just climate change, but to any discipline that’s out there that’s related to climate change such as disaster management, meteorology, any project that falls under what we consider the climate change scope, this course here will definitely build a more robust approach to how to address climate change through implementing projects,” Fulivai said.

Class participants include mid-level managers of government departments, nongovernmental organizations, and representatives from the private sector.

This is the first training supported by the USAID’s Ready project in Tonga. The course will also be offered across the Pacific Island countries, where more than 400 people are expected to participate, including women and people living disabilities.

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