Minister reveals $1.2m package

The New Zealand government has announced a new NZ$750,000 (T$1.27m) aid package for Samoa to help the country prepare for natural disasters.

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye made the announcement at a reception in Apia, attended by guests including ministers, officials, business leaders and representatives of humanitarian assistance agencies.

Ms. Kaye says the aid money is for extra emergency management equipment, the training of local police officers and to help provide educational material for use in schools.

The project will be funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and delivered by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM).

"There's a longstanding relationship between MCDEM and Samoa's National Disaster Management Office (NDMO)," Ms. Kaye says.

"The $750,000 package announced tonight will support this ongoing partnership and further strengthen Samoa's disaster risk management programme."

New Zealand has already funded the installation of 23 tsunami warning sirens around the south coast of the main island, following the devastating 2009 tsunami which killed 189 people.

"We see ourselves as a country which has many things to offer, in part because we've had the devastating earthquakes of Canterbury," Ms Kaye says.

"We've got a very world leading civil defence system, and we really want to give back and help those Pacific nations.

"They are much more vulnerable and that's why if we look at where NZ can make a significant difference, this is an area where we can, with a smaller bit of money and a bit of capability, really help them to save lives and prevent injuries."

The next phase will include ongoing work such as:

• improving early warning systems

• providing additional training and equipment for Samoa's emergency operations centre

• helping to develop community response and local evacuation plans

• supporting Samoa's national preparedness exercises

• developing educational materials for schools and pre-schools

"We've got the anniversary of the seven years since the tsunami and I think it's the right time to be support them by both strengthening warning systems, but also public education, to ensure that they're in a better position if something else happens," says Ms Kaye.

"This is about potentially saving lives but also reducing the number of people who may be injured in an event like a tsunami."

The New Zealand Government is also using the money to partner with charity Habitat for Humanity to help families to learn how to build cyclone-resistant homes.

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