Disasters, Conflicts and Migration

Natural Disasters

Type

Occurs

Comments / Details

Drought

Yes

Rarotonga relies on rainwater for its source of drinking water so is subject to shortages during prolonged dry periods, however this has never resulted in an emergency situation. The Outer Islands are not affected in this way as they use bores for sourcing water.

Earthquakes

No

According to the earthquake hazard predictions, Cook Islands are situated in a relatively quiet seismic area and have low chance of experiencing a strong earthquake in the next 50 years. Nonetheless, the larger tectonic area of Pacific “Ring of Fire” can in the future generate tsunamis that may affect Cook Islands' shores (PCRAFI, 2011).

Epidemics

Yes

Outbreaks of Dengue fever occur from time to time but are quickly contained and there have been no deaths recorded from it in the past 10 years

Extreme Temperatures

No

 

Flooding

Yes

Flooding can occur to low-lying areas as a result of king tides and wave surges. This is generally not life-threatening.

Insect Infestation

No

 

Mudslides

No

 

Volcanic Eruptions

No

 

High Waves / Surges

Yes

Disasters like tsunamis may pose threats to human lives and the infrastructure of the Cook Islands in the future. In 1909, a tsunami with waves of up to three metres high caused damage to roads, bridges and crops in Rarotonga.

Wildfires

No

 

High Winds

Yes

Tropical cyclones are the single most likely natural hazard to affect the Cook Islands, with cyclone season falling between November and April. In the 41-year period between 1969 and 2010, a total of 47 tropical cyclones passed within 400 km of Rarotonga, an average of just over one cyclone per season. The number of cyclones varies widely from year to year, with none in some seasons, but up to six in others. Over the period 1969 to 2010, cyclones occurred more frequent in El Niño years.

Other Comments

 

Man-Made Issues

Civil Strife

No

 

International Conflict

No

 

Internally Displaced Persons

No

 

Refugees Present

No

 

Landmines / UXO Present

No

 

Other Comments

 

 

For a more detailed database on disasters by country, please see the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters.

 

Seasonal Effects on Logistics Capacities

Seasonal Effects on Transport

Transport Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details

Primary Road Transport

From July - Sept

Some flooding may occur to low lying areas. Effects are short term (3-4 days)

Secondary Road Transport

From July - Sept

Some flooding may occur to low lying areas. Effects are short term (3-4 days)

Rail Transport

No

 

Air Transport

No

 

Waterway Transport

Oct- April

Cyclones may occur at this time of year causing rough seas and disruption to interisland shipping

 

There are no seasonal periods that cause disruption to transport or storage other than those occasional and relatively rare weather events mentioned in the tables above. 

Seasonal Effects on Storage and Handling

Activity Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details

Storage

July - April

Wet season and running into Cyclone season may cause some problems with low lying storage facilities but generally this is anticipated and goods are moved to storage at higher ground levels

Handling

July - April

As above, avoiding handling some stores in wet conditions can cause minor delays.

Other

  

 

There are generally no seasonal bottlenecks.

Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response

Government

The Government is well placed to respond to emergencies and has an on-going program to strengthen the country’s capability.

The Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) is the designated governmental division charged with ensuring the maintenance of the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) plan and all necessary sub-plans for the Cook Islands. It is the coordinating body between other humanitarian actors in the region including the UN agencies (regionally based in Fiji and Somoa), Cook Islands Red Cross Society, the Adventist Disaster Relief Association (ADRA) and  the civil agencies of Police and Infrastructure Cook Islands. EMCI will also coordinate with the NZ and French military and NZ Aid organisation in events that require their assistance.  A cluster system is being finalised whereby specific organisations will take a lead role in key areas such as health, emergency communications, education, protection etc.

It is planned to establish a Cook Islands Civil Defence Organisation by 2023

The declaration of a disaster is the responsibility of the Prime Minister acting upon input from the EMCI, the Police and Meteorological Service At the declaration, the Police Commissioner – as the National Disaster Controller- activates the operation of the National Operations Centre based at Blue Sky, the national telecommunications provider. At this point, all stakeholders and first responders (EMCI, Police, Ministry Of Health, Blue Sky, Red Cross) and other relevant stakeholders and specialists commence response.

For more information on government contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Government Contact List.

Humanitarian Community

The Cook Islands Red Cross Society (CIRCS) and the Adventist Disaster Relief Association (ADRA) are present and active in the Cook Islands. Both organisations have contingency stocks of disaster relief items stored in country. The UN agencies whilst not permanently represented in country work with the EMCI through their regional offices in Fiji and Samoa on disaster preparedness and relief programs

Red Cross has offices on 9 of the 12 inhabited islands implementing programs working with communities to adapt to climate change and tackling communicable and non-communicable diseases in addition to cyclone relief efforts. They maintain contingency stocks of disaster relief supplies on all of the inhabited islands. ADRA provides disaster relief food and shelter funding through its partners, Red Cross and the UN agencies.

For more information on humanitarian agency contact details, please see the following link: 4.2 Humanitarian Agency Contact List.

 

Further information on Cook Islands Disaster Management and Disaster Preparedness can be accessed at: http://www.emci.gov.ck/  and in Appendix 5.8 UNDP  Cook Islands Country Preparedness Package