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Disaster Readiness and Climate Change (Pacific Region)

Cyclones and droughts are increasing the frequency and intensity across the Pacific. We support our partners to prepare vulnerable communities and reduce the impacts of natural disasters. $1 spent in preparedness saves $15 in response later. This now includes pandemics like COVID-19.

Activities include community-based risk assessment and contingency planning, training networks of disaster response chaplains and resourcing our partner churches with Christian theology that gives hope and inspires faith-filled action.

Part of this program includes working ecumenically through the Church Agencies Network-Disaster Operations consortium (CAN-DO) funded by the Australian Government as part of the Australian Humanitarian Partnership Program.



UnitingWorld has taken the lead within CAN-DO on coordinating the writing and development of a ‘Theology of Disaster Resilience in a Changing Climate.’ This work, undertaken by Pasifika theologians following a participatory baseline survey across four Pacific countries, is a resource for communities and churches to explore the meaning of resilience, preparedness and suffering during disaster from a biblical point of view. These resources are available for download here.



Our Impact

We and our partners have been able to respond to COVID-19 and TC Harold in Tonga, Solomon Islands, PNG, Vanuatu, Fiji, Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Partners across Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Fiji participated in regional training of Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Networks and are now running training workshops at the national level to build their teams of qualified and ready first responders to support communities in the wake of disaster.

In Tuvalu, a song about gender based violence has been written and released.

In Tonga and Solomon Islands, much needed water and sanitation facilities have been built.

In Tonga, 47 Ministers and theological students have now been trained in Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy, covering modules in trauma counselling, keeping people safe and the nature of disaster.

In Kiribati, 29 church leaders trained and qualified as Disaster Recovery Chaplains. This group will respond to disaster recovery needs in communities across 18 of the 23 inhabited islands.

In Solomon Islands, radio segments led by church leaders have reinforced positive messages about hygiene, preparedness and addressing gender based violence; reaching around 70 per cent of the population.

In Tuvalu, 14 church leaders qualified as Disaster Recovery Chaplains. This group will support communities in seven islands to help people deal with the stresses and impacts of COVID-19.

An estimated 75 per cent of the Tuvaluan population (7,984 people) have been reached through a nation-wide TV and radio campaign focusing on faith, gender equality and protection and COVID-19.

Twenty new water tanks were installed throughout Tonga. These have directly benefited more than 83 people (57 per cent women and 15 per cent people with disabilities) and helped another 124 indirectly.

In Vanuatu, COVID-19 related sermons were played on national television and livestreamed on Facebook (receiving 114 comments and 257 likes).

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Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG, Solomon Islands


Methodist Church in Fiji, Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu, United Church in Papua New Guinea, United Church in the Solomon Islands


Climate Resilience

News from the field

  • Pastoral messages connecting faith and COVID-19 in the PacificPastoral messages connecting faith and COVID-19 in the Pacific
    Pacific church leaders and theologians have been guiding people of faith through the COVID-19 crisis.  When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the region, Pacific Island nations were quick to guard against the disease with safety lockdowns. The limited health infrastructure across much of the Pacific meant its populations were particularly vulnerable. Pacific churches too were proactive in urging people to follow official health and safety advice during lockdowns, as well as giving theological guidance to help people of faith (the vast majority in ...
  • Tropical Cyclone Harold and COVID-19Tropical Cyclone Harold and COVID-19
    In the middle of preparing COVID-19 lockdown measures, Tropical Cyclone Harold hit the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga over 1-11 April. Reaching up to Category 5, the cyclone forced people into evacuation centres where proper physical distancing became impossible. Homes and food supplies were destroyed, resulting in what has been called a “double-disaster” for the people and communities affected. Below are some updates from our church partners. Solomon Islands TC Harold struck the Solomon Islands first as a Category 3 cyclone, damaging ...
  • Can theology prevent disasters?Can theology prevent disasters?
    Theology can’t prevent disasters, but can help people and communities prepare for them and lessen the impact. That’s why we’ve been supporting our Pacific partners to develop a theology of disaster resilience and share it across their churches and the wider Pacific. Our church partners work among communities who have been taught to believe that natural disasters are an unavoidable punishment for personal or societal wrongdoing. This understanding of the nature of disaster sometimes means people haven’t thought through the practical ...
  • Why we joined the climate strikeWhy we joined the climate strike
    When the Uniting Church in Australia was formed in 1977, we made a statement to the nation that included this commitment: “We are concerned with the basic human rights of future generations and will urge the wise use of energy, the protection of the environment and the replenishment of the earth’s resources for their use and enjoyment.” Caring for creation is in our DNA. It’s a long legacy that inspired our decision to join the Global Climate Strike in solidarity with Christian ...
  • Churches step up climate justiceChurches step up climate justice
    With climate change intensifying the ferocity and frequency of natural disasters—typically in regions where the poor are disproportionately affected—how do we as the Church respond? That was the question posed at UnitingWorld’s annual conference of Southeast Asia Partners, held in Bali from 29 July to 2 August 2019. Delegates from Bali, Java, Maluku, West Timor, Timor-Leste, Papua and West Papua and North Luzon in the Philippines gathered to hear from experts and share their own experiences of climate change and disasters. Indonesian disaster ...