Responding to Cyclone Winston UNDP Update (as of 22 March 2016)

Mar 24, 2016

Koro island, described as ‘ground zero’ of cyclone Winston. Nasau village. Photo: UNDP



On 20 February 2016, cyclone Winston, the most severe tropical cyclone recorded in the Southern hemisphere, hit Fiji and left a trail of destruction across 167 of the 330 islands that comprise the nation. 350,000 people, or 40% of the population, were affected, and 28,000 houses were either destroyed or severely damaged. In the most affected areas, up to 90% of structures were destroyed. 5,800 people are still sheltered in evacuation centres and some 24,000 households are estimated to need urgent humanitarian shelter assistance. 

Affected population now have limited access to public services, schools and hospitals, though many have been destroyed or damaged, leaving huge amounts of debris that need to be safely removed.

Relief is already flowing to affected people. The communities are demonstrating resilience, supporting each other, while the government is leading the humanitarian activities with the support from the UN and international community. 

UNDP, in coordination with the government and other development partners, is assisting the early recovery with a strong focus on transition to a recovery process that lays the foundation for inclusive and sustainable development.

UNDP's Approach

UNDP draws on its vast experience in crisis situations to help Fiji recover now and develop in the long term. UNDP has mobilized its network, technical expertise and available resources to ensure full support. UNDP support the government in its efforts of coordinating early recovery and recovery support.

Several existing UNDP projects, such as Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP), Markets for Change Project (M4C, a joint project with UN Women) and GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) have redirected funding and activities to respond quickly to the immediate needs expressed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management. Relief items, totalling to USD 130,000, have been procured and distributed to enable the local extension offices providing necessary support to the affected communities. 

Other long-term development projects, such as Fiji Youth Project, Fiji Parliament Support Project, Fiji Ridge-to-Reef Project, Strengthening Citizen Engagement in Fiji Initiative (SCEFI), Rights or Empowerment and Cohesion project (REACH) have strong partnerships with line ministries, government and non-government partners and communities, and can facilitate a multi-stakeholder approach towards recovery and long-term reconstruction of the communities in the most affected areas.

Areas of Work

Responding to the recovery need arising from the aftermath of cyclone Winston, UNDP will work on:

  • Emergency livelihoods through community infrastructure, and debris & solid waste management. UNDP designed time-critical interventions to support debris and solid waste management. Interventions will include the safe removal and recycling of debris and waste, the rehabilitation of basic community infrastructure and access paths to allow the affected communities reaching essential services. USD 50,000 worth of material for debris clearance have already been handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture, which will deliver them to the most affected areas.
  • Emergency Employment scheme. UNDP has reprogrammed USD 50,000 to conduct a labour-intensive emergency employment scheme (Cash for Work), targeting at youths in Koro. The debris/waste management training has been conducted to 4 villages in Koro. Under this scheme, Fijian youths will clear debris in the communities to restore normal life, and will receive cash, which will assist their immediate financial needs for quick recovery.
  • National recovery planning and coordination. UNDP assists national and local authorities to design and plan a long-term recovery processes. A Recovery framework will enable the government to better serve and empower people and communities, as well as equip them to be better able to manage future disasters.

UNDP facilitated a partnership with Fiji’s telecommunication companies and the Ministry of Agriculture for the use of text message for key awareness towards affected farming communities.

As part of its rapid response UNDP also deployed a team of technical experts on debris and waste management. 

Early Recovery Cluster and Coordination

The UN Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) met to finalize preparations even before cyclone Winston hit Fiji, and regular meetings of Cluster Leads have been held since the response began. OCHA provides inter-cluster coordination support to the National Disaster Management Office, while UNDP supports the government in coordinating early recovery and recovery.

UNDP, together with key coordinating partners, is assisting the Government’s Department of Strategic Planning for undertaking a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA).


FundingNamadu village, on Koro Island, where all the houses were destroyed or badly damaged. Photo: UNDP

UNDP reallocated USD 130,000 from existing programmes to assist the Ministry of Agriculture, with a further USD 50,000 worth of debris clearing materials have been handed over for the Ministry to deliver to the communities in most needed areas. USD 50,000 has also been reprogrammed to support the Ministry of Youth and Sports supporting youths for rehabilitation efforts and debris clearance.

These funds support life-saving needs and aim at ensuring Fiji can build back better. UNDP and its partners can, together, help the country emerge from this crisis, and be a stronger and more resilient Fiji.

Why partner with UNDP?

UNDP has a long history of presence in Fiji. our programming, ongoing and new projects, are in line with the government’s priorities and are being delivered in close collaboration with national and international partners. In all our work, we’ll continue our global reputation for transparency, accountability and excellence.

UNDP is recognized worldwide as a leader in crisis response and long-term development. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, UNDP offers global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations—resulting in a better quality of life for everyone. 

Contact Information

For more information on how to engage, or to share ideas on how to address the crisis in Fiji, contact

Ms. Akiko Fujii
UNDP Deputy Resident Representative / (+679) 331 2500

United Nations Development Programme
Kadavu House, Level 8
414 Victoria Parade, Suva, Fiji

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