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UNDP advisor impressed with plan

Tuesday 9 March 2010 | Published in Regional

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Government has acted swiftly to take Aitutaki from cyclone relief to recovery phase starting this week, says United Nations Development Programme consultant Moortaza Jiwanji.

The disaster risk management advisor travelled with ‘recovery coordinator’ and finance minister Wilkie Rasmussen to Aitutaki last Friday on his mission to inform the people of government’s plan to spend $9.46 million on reconstruction and recovery for the cyclone devastated island.

Most of the time even a good recovery plan can’t be fully carried out, warns Jiwanji. But he thinks the Cook Islands plan is one of the best he’s seen.

“It’s not too ambitious in its scope. Sometimes plans are ‘too good’ – but this one is focused. Everyone sees it as a living document which is a success in itself.

“Let’s come back in a year’s time. If 50 percent of the plan is done, it’s more than most countries have been able to do globally.”

Jiwanji says the Aitutaki recovery plan, which includes a $5 million housing project, is so well compiled it could serve as a potential blueprint for other Cook Islands and Pacific islands countries.

“Usually recovery is a development process which is complex and multifaceted. I’ve been very impressed with this plan and the speed from the relief to the recovery phase,” he said on Friday.

Jiwanji had initially travelled to Aitutaki in the last week of February with a government team to carry out an assessment that made up part of the final recovery plan.

“The UNDP provides technical assistance, ideas and help with assessments – we take a lot of the load off others.”

“We got lots of input from the mayor, the council and the community.

“It was good to hear that they are ready to be partners in the (recovery) process. The communities want to ‘build back better’ which is music to our ears – especially when the community says it and we don’t have to say it for them.”

Jiwanji says the recovery plan is an additional full time job for government, and while the recovery committee under Rasmussen will take the lead, it still makes it a big commitment.

“This is very much a government led, government owned and people owned process.”

Overall Jiwanji says government has done well in consulting with the people affected by the cyclone as it moves into helping the island recover.

“Essentially they need a message of hope – and the plan does that in a nutshell.”