9 Oct 2009

UNDP Pacific representative offers help to improve disaster preparedness

9:41 am on 9 October 2009

After visiting the tsunami battered northern Tonga island of Niuatoputapu over the past two days, the United Nations Development Programme's Pacific representative, Knut Ostby, says he expects his body will play a key role in trying to improve disaster preparedness.

Nine people died on the island when the tsunami hit last week.

Mr Ostby says while many islanders remain in shock a lot of cleaning up is underway.

He says health and schooling services are returning to normal and there's a temporary restoration of water services, though a full rebuild, including of septic tanks, will be a major exercise.

Mr Ostby says the UNDP will do what it can but it's up to the Tonga Government to take the lead.

"We will do what they feel they need help to have done. We can offer some support in sanitation or health, perhaps in minor infrastructure, also in co-ordination and planning, and we expect that the major job also will be disaster preparedness for the future."