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Samoa launches first Braille-translated Disaster Risk Management Materials

APIA, SAMOA – 21 JUNE 2023: A total of 100 Samoan & 100 English braille-translated Disaster Risk Management booklets for the blind or visually impaired community; were officially launched on Monday 19 June, 2023.

The launch was witnessed and attended by the New Zealand Deputy High Commissioner and members of the Umbrella for People with Disabilities, Nuanua ole Alofa (NOLA) & Samoa Blind Persons Association and various organizations that play advocacy roles to support people with disabilities.

It was a milestone that reflected the government of Samoa’s commitment in achieving its global and local obligations around the Inclusiveness – Whole of Society approach, to ensure that the concept that “No One is Left Behind” in all phases of Disaster Risk Management.

The design and development of the braille translated Disaster Risk Management awareness booklets cost SAT $33,500 and funded by the NZ Government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) DRM Project/Programme monitored by the MNRE as the Implementing Agency.

The NZ NEMA DRM Project is a six-year project which commenced in 2019 until 2024 with the ultimate goal to strengthen Disaster Risk Management across risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery in targeted Pacific Island countries including Samoa.

The Disaster Management Office (DMO) of the MNRE worked closely with Nuanua ole Alofa (NOLA) & the Samoa Blind Persons Association on this initiative to ensure that these booklets were produced and made available for ease of access and reference by the blind community. All braille equipment was procured from the Blind People’s Association as the only agency qualified to provide the specifications for the booklets.

Braille book
Braille book

New Zealand’s Deputy High Commissioner, Lavea’i Ioane with a member of the Samoa Blind Association displaying some of the booklets.

Disasters are becoming frequent and sadly, people with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable to these disasters or hazards, unfortunately there is a lack of disaster-related information and resources available to increase their awareness of the potential risks they are exposed to.

For this reason, an initiative to translate the existing disaster risk management awareness materials into braille was successfully delivered basically to support the visually impaired community, providing measures that would build their capacity and enhance their preparedness abilities to respond to the most extreme disasters that Samoa is prone to.

The booklets are in Samoan and English and contain basic information on ‘What to Do’ in the event of disasters such as tropical cyclones, river floods, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and fires.

Having these braille booklets developed is a significant achievement for Samoa where the blind persons and visually impaired will, for the first time be able to read these DRM awareness materials to enhance their resilience and preparations in response to disasters & emergencies.

Following the launch, the braille booklets were then hand over to the Samoa Blind People’s Association through NOLA for educational purposes and for dissemination to the blind community.

This milestone and achievement further reaffirms Samoa’s commitment to contribute positively towards the realization of regional and international goals under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030; the 2015 Paris Agreement for Climate Change; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific 2017-2030 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006 which Samoa has ratified. It is with high hopes that this work is replicated to other priority sectoral activities in Samoa.

The keynote address was delivered by the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Moafanua Tolusina Afuvai Pouli on behalf of the Ministry (MNRE) and remarks on behalf of the NZ Government by the Deputy High Commissioner, Lavea’i Ioane.

Tia’ena Herbert Bell thanked the Samoan Government and acknowledged the financial support of the NZ Government on behalf of the Samoa Blind Association.