• The UNITAR resource person Ms. Molly Faamanatu Nielsen is Assistant Chief Executive Officer at the Disaster Management Office, Samoa National Emergency Management Office (NDMO), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
  • In March 2023, UNITAR held its in-person workshops in Samoa as part of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Women’s Leadership Training Programme.
  • Around 20 learners were equipped with practical skills to help them lead gender-inclusive and community-based disaster risk reduction management.
  • Molly believes that training is key to disaster risk reduction.



The UNITAR Hiroshima Women’s Leadership in Tsunami-based Disaster Risk Reduction programme trains women professionals on disaster risk reduction leadership. Centred on the Sendai Framework, which advocates for substantial reduction of disaster risk and building resilience, the programme aims to furnish women with practical skills to help them lead gender-inclusive and community-based disaster risk reduction

For 2023, the five-day programme was held in Samoa in March and brought together around 20 participants from nine countries including Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga.

Molly expressed her delight to have the opportunity to share Samoa’s disaster risk management activities and strategies with the training participants. Molly’s professional experiences include implementing Samoa’s disaster risk management framework. Her team is responsible for coordinating the disaster risk management programmes for risk reduction, preparedness, response and recovery at all levels.

The UNITAR training is very important for building capacities of women to raise awareness and share experiences. Training is a critical component of disaster risk reduction. We have to continue to train and build capacities of women of all hazards.” —Molly Nielsen, UNITAR resource person and Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Disaster Management Office, Samoa National Emergency Management Office, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment


Molly considers training and awareness campaigns as critical components in disaster risk reduction. She believes that training should be delivered at all levels, including for the general public, communities and schools. Effective disaster risk management relies on everyone knowing about tsunamis and other hazards and sharing experiences is very important. 

Molly also believes that hearing testimonies and ideas from fellow women not only allows for inspiration and collaboration but also helps them develop confidence in pursuing and presenting their ideas.

When asked about where she would like to see UNITAR in 20 years, Molly says she would like to see UNITAR strengthen its engagement with the disaster risk management national offices in each country. Her hope is that UNITAR’s engagement will ensure that “training and research and capacity building is secure, strengthened and continues not only at the national level within countries but as well as at the regional level.”

about unitar

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a dedicated training arm of the United Nations. In 2022, UNITAR trained over 395,000 learners around the world to support their actions for a better future. In addition to our headquarters in Geneva, we have offices in Hiroshima, New York and Bonn and networks around the world.

The Division for Prosperity is based in the Hiroshima Office and Geneva. We seek to shape an inclusive, sustainable and prosperous world through world-class learning and knowledge-sharing services on entrepreneurship, leadership, finance and trade, digital technologies, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. We empower individuals from least-developed countries, countries emerging from conflict, and small-island developing states – especially women and young people – to bring about positive change.

United Nations Online Volunteer Gideon Odiwuor Opiyo contributed to this article.

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