- Deltina Solomon manages two disaster management projects in the Solomon Islands.
- Seeking formal training in disaster risk management, she joined the 2022 UNITAR Hiroshima Women’s Leadership in Tsunami-based Disaster Risk Reduction Training Programme for World Tsunami Awareness Day.
- The UNITAR programme trains women on gendered leadership and inclusive disaster risk management at the community level.
- Deltina was especially inspired by the women leaders at the in-person training in Samoa, which focused on the Pacific experience.
26 May 2023, Hiroshima, Japan - Deltina Solomon is a deputy project manager for two United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) disaster management projects in the Solomon Islands. She joined the 2022 UNITAR Hiroshima Women’s Leadership in Tsunami-based Disaster Risk Reduction Training Programme to enhance her work as a front-line officer in disaster risk reduction.
Helping communities prepare for disasters
According to Deltina, 70 to 80 per cent of the Solomon Islands' population lives in coastal areas. This exposes residents to a higher risk of disasters such as cyclones and tsunamis that destroy shelter and livelihoods.
But being prepared can help communities be more resilient. One community that Deltina worked with had developed a disaster response plan and used it to mobilize funding from the Japanese embassy in Honiara to build a community evacuation centre. If a cyclone should hit, the community now has a secure place to stay until it is safe to return home.
While working with the communities, Deltina felt that she needed some more formal training in disaster management. So when a UNDP colleague told her about a UNITAR training on disaster risk reduction, she applied.
From learning to application
The UNITAR Hiroshima Women’s Leadership in Tsunami-based Disaster Risk Reduction Training Programme for World Tsunami Awareness Day trains women from around the world – especially those living in or from the Asia-Pacific – on gendered leadership and inclusive disaster risk reduction.
After completing the online first half of the UNITAR programme in 2022, Deltina took what she learned and organized a community and school training for girls, women, children, people with disabilities and youth on disaster risk management.
This is the first time the communities have undergone this type of disaster risk reduction training including women, youth and people with disabilities. And they are so grateful to be included.
Over 40 per cent of participants in that training were women. “For Melanesian culture, where women tend to be laid back and they don’t tend to come out and join such initiatives, 43 per cent is a big achievement”, says Deltina.
During the UNITAR programme, Deltina also created a disaster response management plan for schools. Schools do not have such plans; having one will help teachers and community school boards know how to conduct drills and respond to disasters.
Inspired by other women leaders from the Pacific
The second half of the UNITAR programme was an in-person regional training, held in Samoa with a focus on experiences from the Pacific. It brought together the top 18 performers from 2020, 2021 and 2022 online training cohorts to further develop their management and leadership skills.
Deltina enjoyed interacting with other women from the Pacific with diverse experiences and knowledge. She plans to take the best practices back to the Solomon Islands and apply them there.
Disaster management, she notes, is a male-dominated sector in Melanesia. And because of that, she was inspired by the women in the programme, especially the experts from Samoa. Deltina hopes to encourage more young women, youth and people with disabilities to come out and get involved – and to be confident in what they do.
We as women are changemakers in whatever levels of work we are in. Be confident about the work we do.
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a United Nations agency that promotes decision-making for a better future through training individuals and groups. Established in 1963, UNITAR reached 370,139 learners through its courses in 2021. In addition to its headquarters in Geneva, UNITAR has offices in New York, Hiroshima, and Bonn, as well as other networks around the world. UNITAR Division for Prosperity shares world-class knowledge and skills related to entrepreneurship, leadership, trade and finance, digital technologies, and disarmament. Especially from its Hiroshima Office and in training for learners from conflict and post-conflict countries, UNITAR incorporates Hiroshima’s rise from the atomic bombing to the current peaceful city as a model of reconstruction. In 2019, the UNITAR Association was established as a public support organization in Japan. It supports UNITAR through publicity and awareness-raising in Japan.
United Nations Online Volunteer Dulmi Chamika contributed to this article.