Badeley Nimepo recounts Temotu Tsunami day

Badeley Nimepo is the Design Monitoring and Evaluation (DME) officer for World Vision Solomon Islands Temotu Area Program Office. He was at the office when the earthquake and tsunami struck Temotu Province on 6 February 2013.

The memory is still fresh in my mind as I recall that fateful day the earthquake shook the little township of Lata and washed away lives. The disaster happened at a time when everyone was busy doing their daily activities, as I was also at the office working. In my mind, I can still hear people crying and screaming and urging their friends and families to run to higher ground as the wave was approaching. 

It has now been almost a year since the earth shook tremendously and the sea roared horribly, changing the course of many lives. The 8.0 magnitude earthquake is believed to be the most powerful earthquake ever in the history of Temotu Province. The earthquake and tsunami damaged housing, water sources and systems, infrastructure such as health clinics, roads, wharves and schools, food gardens and other means of livelihoods such as fishing equipment including boats, nets and fishing lines.

A couple of minutes after the disaster, I was asked to attend an emergency meeting with the Provincial Disaster Management Office. At the same time I had a phone call from World Vision Solomon Islands in Honiara checking on Temotu staff and asking for information on the extent of the damage in the area. With the help of other World Vision Temotu staff, we were able to carry out a rapid assessment in areas that were accessible and provide a report to the main office. 

Within the next 48 hours we teamed up with the Provincial Disaster Office to form a response team and were sent to do a rapid assessment around the Santa Cruz Island. I was the team leader for my group. There were two teams sent out at that time, one group (the land group) travelled by vehicle while my group (the sea group) travelled by boat. 

My responsibility was to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation plan with the other partner agencies and the National Disaster Management Office. This was used throughout the relief operations, maintaining quality through using first hand data on the situation. This helped WVSI and partner to fairly distribute food, water and relief items such as blankets, tarpaulins, water containers to the children and families affected by the disaster. 

Under the co-ordination of the National Disaster Management Office, World Vision, Red Cross and other partners worked collaboratively with communities affected to address their immediate needs.

Now one year after the disaster, children and families in the affected areas of Temotu are moving forward slowly. For many of them it will take some years before they can be on their own again. The process of recovery will be a long one, but people in Temotu are resilient to disasters and can quickly rebuild their lives back better. I have learned through my experience working in Temotu Province. I am hopeful that I will see the people in the affected areas strive and persist in the recovery process, however long it may take.