Palau, situated east of the Philippines and north-east of Indonesia, consists of more than 300 islands stretching over 650 km of which only nine are inhabited. Palau, a Micronesian country, is divided into 16 states and has one of the highest standards of living of Pacific Island countries.
Palau faces a moderate degree of risk to natural disasters, and mainly experiences tropical storms, drought and tidal surges. Like other Pacific Island countries, Palau is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including severe weather events and rising sea levels.
In December 2012, Palau was hit by Tropical Cyclone Bopha and while there was no loss of life, it caused extensive damage to coastal houses and infrastructure. Less than 12 months later, Palau was struck by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, devastating homes and infrastructure in the northern states of Kayangel, Ngerchelong and Ngaraard.
Despite Palau’s natural disaster risk, human-induced disasters have also affected the island nation. In September 1996, the Koror-Babeldaob Bridge, spanning Palau’s two main islands, collapsed suddenly, and in 2002, a report found that Palau's public water supply was contaminated due to a violation of public water standards.
In 2018, drought conditions have led to water restrictions around Koror and Airai State.
Disasters, Conflicts and Migration
Comments / Details
Sustained drought event: 2016-2017
Dengue: Oct. 2016
Influenza A H1N1: Apr. 2009
During king tide events in low lying places
High Waves / Surges
3 Tropical Cyclones between 2012-2014
- Typhoon Hagupit: Dec. 2014
- Typhoon Haiyan: Nov. 2013
- Typhoon Bopha: Dec. 2012
Internally Displaced Persons
Landmines / UXO Present
For a more detailed database on disasters by country, please see the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED): https://www.emdat.be/index.php
Seasonal Effects on Logistics Capacities
Seasonal Effects on Transport
Comments / Details
Primary Road Transport
Primary causeway connections in Koror State are low-laying, but have not been reported to be affected during severe storm events.
Secondary Road Transport
Secondary road access to low-laying dock and beach landing areas will be affected by high onshore winds during high, and king tides.
Services potentially affected during cyclone season.
Inter-island transport is affected by high seas all year round.
Palau averages a consistent 28-33°C temperature day and night, all year round. Climatic conditions relating to natural disasters could potentially cause damages to the logistics infrastructure, affecting the usability and availability of equipment.
Seasonal Effects on Storage and Handling
Comments / Details
King tides flooding low laying areas could make storage vulnerable.
Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response
The government disaster response structure is based around the permanent establishment of the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) located near the National airport in Airai State. The NEMO monitors and coordinates all maritime and land-based disaster activities and responses. It acts with the counsel of, and in concert with the National Emergency Committee (NEC), made up of 24 directors and senior personnel from a range of government agencies.
The National Weather service (https://www.weather.gov/gum/Koror) updates climate information daily and makes this information available for public broadcasting and information service through the NEMO.
Due to the large number of maritime activities and responsibilities, NEMO coordinates with the US Coast Guard (based in Guam) for marine surveillance activities such as search and rescue and fisheries monitoring. Additionally, the Marine Surveillance patrol boat program also coordinates with NEMO and can be tasked in emergency response activities. Both the Australian and Japanese governments have each provided one patrol boat for Palau’s marine surveillance activities.
While there is a significant USAG based in Guam, along with US Navy and Airforce, they do not have any formal MoU mechanism to provide Palau with assistance in disaster situations. International military are not part of any response plan however, the US Goast Guard and the US Federal Aviation provide support to Palau in case of specific search and rescue operations or aviation disasters.
For more information on government contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Government Contact List
The humanitarian community in Palau is small, with a UN Joint Presence Office and Palau Red Cross society being the longest- established humanitarian agencies. IOM has also recently established itself in Palau. UNJOP is made up of the UNFPA, UNICEF and UNDP.
There are a number of faith-based groups present in Palau who also provide community support and assistance during times of disaster.
For more information on humanitarian agency contact details, please see the following link: 4.2 Humanitarian Agency Contact List