HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

From Disaster to Prevention
William (Willie) Mocevakaca Tuivaga has been appointed the Programme Manager for the “Strengthening Resilience in Island Communities (SRIC) project”, the position is a new one based in the Office of the Prime Minister in the Climate Change Cook Islands office. He started on Monday 27 August, 2012. The Herald spoke with Willie about his new job.
Herald: What is the SRIC (Strengthening the Resilience of Island Communities) project is about?
Willie: The SRIC program was designed some years back by a handful of National Environment Services Climate Change advocates and Prof John Hay.
The overall outcome of SRIC is to strengthen resilience in the Pa Enua to Climate Change and Disasters. Each project proposed and implemented under the SRIC program will have an output that is merely a building block towards achieving the desired outcome of SRIC.
SRIC has funding to the tune of almost US$5 million dollars. I will be managing this program.
H: What does your position involve and how do you see yourself being able to help communities?
W: In general as the SRIC Program Manager, I will oversee implementation of the entire program. This includes finding alternate ways to facilitate the implementation of the program and strengthen bodies to help deliver the desired outcome of SRIC. My philosophy in managing is simple, at one time we were taught “If it’s not broken leave it alone”, however over time we learn that sometimes (and only sometimes) “If it’s not broken...break it because that’s the only way we can progress” meaning we cannot always operate within the box that limits our thinking.
Every “Ground breaking solution” was once a “crazy idea”. I will encourage everyone working within the SRIC program (including all beneficiaries) to be innovative and ready to back your thinking.
H: What are some advantages to ensure that this project is a success?
W: A portal is currently under development by EMCI and Michelle Foster with the assistance of SOPAC. This portal will have all Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation projects in the Cook Islands listed on site.
This is a great transparent model for all to see. So while I issue media releases and reports to stakeholders including the public, the program can also be tracked online.
Another is the two sided (top-down and bottom-up) design that the program has. At times situations change on the ground and so should activities under the program to capture these changes, SRIC is flexible in this sense. The biggest advantage is the beneficiaries (men’s/ women’s (including children)/ youth/ elderly and disability groups) are able to propose projects under SRIC...there are no beneficiary boundaries for SRIC and I will ensure a great spread amongst our Island communities benefit from SRIC.
H: What are the next steps?
W: When thinking about starting SRIC we first think about facilitation in two sections; linking policies from International to regional to national to local and establishing or identifying mechanisms to implement and monitor activities.
The first section…”Linking policies” is divided into four parts and although the first two parts are at times not as visible it is important that the linkages are clear to everyone working within the SRIC program. No project under the SRIC program is implemented in isolation; they are all linked and coordinated to achieve the overall program outcome...Strengthening the Resilience of Island Communities.
Knowing that the SRIC program reflects the NSDP the first step to supporting facilitation of the SRIC program in the Pa Enua is to ensure the desired outcome of the SRIC program are/ is reflected in the Pa Enua Development Plans which is currently being reviewed and updated by the Central Policy & Planning Unit and the Pa Enua division at the Office of the Prime Minister.
These policy linkages do reveal a top down approach however the program design also facilitates a bottom up approach in the sense that those in the Pa Enua can identify areas not covered in the policies and develop proposals to address these under the “small grant’s funds” in component 3 of the SRIC program. This is a well designed program offering vertical support in both directions.
So to summarise... to assist with the facilitation of SRIC from national to Island level it is important that the respective Island Development Plans reflect…Strengthening the Resilience of Island Communities” with broad goals. This can be in economic development, tourism, marine, agriculture, infrastructure, education, health, water and much more which reiterates the message that Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation is everyone’s business.
The second section is the mechanisms to physically facilitate the SRIC program from National to Pa Enua. This involves management committees, planning, budgeting, proposals writing, applications, implementation, monitoring & evaluation, reporting and project managing activities. At the National level a SRIC program governance body is established called the Program Management Unit. This is a working group of which I will work with for the duration of the program.
At the Island level where the core beneficiaries of the SRIC program are located there will also be a governance structure in place to facilitate, manage and report progress of projects implemented under the SRIC program. At the SRIC inception workshop held in Rarotonga in July 2012 attended by many Pa Enua representatives the concept of using existing Island Disaster Risk Management Councils to manage SRIC projects was floated. This was accepted by the majority of Pa Enua participants. We must remember that this may change from Island to Island...this will all be firmed up once SRIC starts.
For now, I will plan my communications with Ministries and agencies on Rarotonga and identify what activities they have planned in the Pa Enua that comes within the framework of SRIC (and is/ are ready to start in the first year). From this I will have my first annual plan ready to roll out and implement in the Pa Enua.
H: Tell us about your time in DRR and describe how your experience may help or hinder in your new role:
W: I have worked on many projects in Rarotonga and the Pa Enua, I am fully aware of Island protocols and paths that can facilitate SRIC. I am also aware of obstacles that are sometimes caused by our bureaucratic processes at the various levels. I am also aware of the Pa Enua communities having a gut full of empty promises and I do understand their frustration. I have no doubt there will be many challenges ahead. I work well under pressure.
H: Any last comments that you’d like to make?
W: I look forward to rolling out the first activities under SRIC.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.