The 15 islands and coral atolls of the Cook Islands are scattered over 2 million km² between American Samoa to the west and French Polynesia to the east. Nine of the islands are of volcanic origin and only 13 are inhabited.
The Cook Islands are highly vulnerable to natural disasters and the effects of climate change. Cyclones are the most frequently occurring disaster, causing casualties and serious damage to property and infrastructure.
The most recent severe cyclone struck the Cook Islands in February 2010 and, despite no deaths or casualties, the entire population of the island of Aitutaki was either directly or indirectly affected. The Cook Islands experienced a serious dengue outbreak in May 2009 with nearly 1,000 cases reported on the main island of Rarotonga. In 2005, a series of five Category 3-5 cyclones passed over the islands in a period of just six weeks, and in 1997, the Cook Island’s worst disaster, Tropical Cyclone Martin, hit the atoll of Manihiki and left 19 people dead.
Emergency Management Cook Islands is the government’s full-time disaster risk management coordination office to manage crisis prevention, response and recovery. Although the UN does not have a presence in the Cook Islands, it has provided support to the government on several occasions following natural disasters.