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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
All communities ultimately have to assess threats and work to eliminate them to maintain a productive society. Having a solid emergency management program is an important component to maintaining international political stability.
Papua New Guinea has an intriguing emergency management program that has similarities to the overall structure of emergency management in the United States. However, there are also differences that make Papua New Guinea an interesting study of emergency management organizational and conceptual structures.
Large-Scale Emergencies and the Potential for International Instability
Major disasters can ultimately threaten a community’s stability. Countries that are unstable, for example, can become problematic for the international political system. They can also create international crises, potentially destabilizing the countries surrounding them. Nations must have an infrastructure in place to manage major emergencies and protect their communities.
Disaster Threats in Papua New Guinea
It is important to examine the emergency management systems of other countries, particularly when those countries contain a number of potential major threats that can burden emergency management efforts.
According to ACAPS (Assessment Capacities Project), Papua New Guinea is threatened by a number of major natural occurrences, including 16 volcanoes, six of which are classified as high-risk. Papua New Guinea is also prone to cyclones, major flooding, earthquakes and tsunamis. This makes the nation an area of concern for emergency management. Without an appropriate infrastructure in place, any one of these major threats could prostrate the country.
Papua New Guinea’s Emergency Management Focus
Papua New Guinea’s emergency management program does a reasonably good job highlighting its effectiveness. There are similarities between Papua New Guinea and the United States in terms of disaster management.
Papua New Guinea’s emergency management program includes U.S. concepts such as finance and training. These are concepts that are part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) overall Incident Command System. Most intriguing, however, is Papua New Guinea’s emergency management program, which includes components of FEMA’s overall Incident Command System and the emergency management phases that FEMA specifies.
For example, the South Pacific nation makes training one of its major priorities, but also includes other components such as awareness, assistance teams and finances as major pieces of emergency management.
In the United States, FEMA focuses on mitigation, preparedness, training, response, recovery and rebuilding. While Papua New Guinea includes these elements in its overall management system, it has a different perspective that likely helps manage emergencies in a different, yet effective manner. Papua New Guinea also includes important concepts such as partnerships on its website, highlighting just how important that concept is.
Not all of these concepts are identical to FEMA’s. Nevertheless, they provide an interesting perspective into the overall framework and design of the emergency management program in Papua New Guinea.