Assisting communities to become self-reliant and resilient

cash for work
Waisea Naisoro at his kindergarten in Saravi settlement. UNDP/Tomoko Kashiwazaki.

“While the rest of Nadi experienced two floods, our community experienced three as we are the lowest lying in the Nadi delta. The whole community was under water.”

Waisea Naisoro assisted his neighbors in Saravi settlement, outskirt of Nadi, to move to houses on higher ground when severe floods hit the Western Division of Fiji in January and March 2012. The floods left disadvantaged communities without income for weeks, displaced them to emergency shelters, and resulted in loss of household possessions and assets. Naisoro coordinated his community members, particularly unemployed youths to assist each other since they encountered the flood in 2009.


  • First time that Cash-for-Work (CFW) implemented in Fiji.
  • 168 participants (68% Women) received Agriculture training and 177 participants (84% Women) received financial literacy training.
  • 14 communities out of 29 communities established a small-scale community oriented farming ventures after the programme.
  • Five out of 14 communities initiated recovery activities on their own in response to the Cyclone Evan which struck Fiji in December 2012.
  • AusAID provided financial support: AU$90,000 to expand the Cash for Work project to Nadi benefit 865 individuals.

Waisea was also one of the individuals supported through a Cash for Work programme implemented in two districts in Fiji, Nadi and Rakirakiin the aftermath of floods. It combined some immediate recovery efforts with small but much needed cash injections directly to those affected by the floods. The project has been jointly funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and AusAID, and directly implemented by UNDP in partnership with various government agencies as well as ILO and UN Women.

The programme assisted the financial recovery of flood affected men and women by providing a temporary source of cash income in exchange for work related to livelihoods and improving preparedness for future floods. A total of 1208 individuals benefitted from the programme in Rakiraki and Nadi, of which 893 were women. The initiative also indirectly benefitted the wider population in the two districts, totaling more than 47,000 people.

A UNDP commissioned study states, “…circumstantial evidence suggests that natural disasters in Fiji particularly those caused by cyclones and heavy rainfall, can no longer be regarded as exceptional one-off events” (Atkinson, G (2010). The floods experienced at the beginning of last year demonstrate the observations made in the report.

Coping with recurring natural disaster is becoming an on-going struggle for the communities.

“We organise ourselves, do what we can do and keep ourselves going by helping each other. The cash for work priogramme allowed our community to practice resilience and bring our community back to some normalcy especially after the disaster‘’, said Naisoro, the youth leader of the Cash for Work community group.

“The programme reduced the risk of creating deeper debts and has also resulted in the empowerment of the participants and created positive impacts on family and community relations. More can be done to build much needed resilience in the face of recurring floods and the UN system is keen to work with the Fiji government and other stakeholders with a view to making this happen,” the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme Resident Representative, Knut Ostby said.

“We are pleased to support the communities recovering from the floods and cyclone. I hope this is part of the longer process for recovery and that we will be able to help them continue to be self-reliance”, said Nicholas Rosellini, the UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, who met some 100 villagers who participated in the programme in Nadi.

Naisoro’s community decided to endeavor a small-scale faming growing eggplants and other vegetables next to the kindergarten he looks after in the settlement. The farm feeds the people in the settlement and encourages them to continue their recovery efforts. 

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