Responding to Cyclone Winston UNDP Update (as of May 2016)

May 22, 2016

Aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston (Photo: UNDP/Romain Desclous)

The Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston is believed to be one of the most severe ever to hit Fiji and the South Pacific. The cyclone left 43 people dead and a trail of destruction to homes and rural farm-based livelihoods.  An estimated 350,000 island people – that is more than a third of Fiji’s total population – were affected by the Cyclone in six of the country’s 14 provinces. Updated Government figures indicate that more than 32,000 houses were damaged by the cyclone. Up to 90% of structures were destroyed in the hardest hit areas. Hundreds of tons of green waste as well as e-waste in the form of fallen trees and destroyed white goods are in urgent need of being cleared and disposed from village home and farm-land sites. Damages and losses to agriculture and farm-based livelihoods are estimated at over USD 275 million.

The communities have drawn upon their traditional resilience by supporting each other, while the government is leading the early recovery activities with support from the UNDP and international community. 

UNDP's Approach

Two months after the Cyclone, the response to Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston is steadily moving into the early recovery phase. 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 is aligned right behind the priority needs identified by the Government. 

The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) process designed to assess the socio-economic impact of the cyclone, is underway. The PDNA will focus on key early, medium and long-term recovery and reconstruction needs in all key sectors, documenting these in a Recovery Framework.  

Several existing projects have already been mobilized to assist in recovery activities. These projects include: the Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP), Rights Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project, the joint project with UN Women on Market for Change and the Disaster Resilience for Pacific initiative.  Each of these projects have strong partnerships with line ministries, and have helped facilitate a multi-stakeholder approach to recovery and livelihoods restoration for the most affects and vulnerable population with strong private sector engagement. 

Matters of Fact

Close to 3000 people benefit from the UNDP-supported debris clearance and waste management activities in eight villages of Koro Island and 10 villages in the Ra province that saw extensive damage to houses and farm lands as a result of the Cyclone. 

Under the Cash-for-Work programme, and as part of the “My Fiji” initiative, over 250 youth volunteers are targeted for training in village-level debris clearance.

 In Ra province, the partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests has resulted in rapid debris clearance from over 210 hectares of farming land in the villages of Saioko, Verevere and Namarai.

UNDP in Action

Damaged buildingRemains of a house that was destroyed by Cyclone Winston in Namarai village of Ra province. (Photo: UNDP)

The Post-Cyclone and Cash-for-Work project has provided a temporary source of cash income in exchange for work related to debris clean-up, restoration of livelihoods activities and improving preparedness for future cyclones.  The project partnered with the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Youth and Sport.

UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of Fiji and other partners, has stepped efforts for a rapid restoration of livelihoods in areas affected by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston. Enhancing public food security, and strengthening local capacities to integrate disaster risk reduction into recovery and enhancing community capacities for disaster preparedness will constitute major elements of the UNDP support. 

On behalf of the UN System, UNDP is leading the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) process that forms the main assessment tool for the socio-economic impact of the cyclone, including quantifying the damage and loss in critical sectors of the economy. UNDP has informed the PDNA process with inputs on environment, livelihoods and disaster risk management. 

UNDP is the conduit for the engagement of telecommunications companies - Digicel Fiji and Vodafone Fiji, to assist with assessment needs. This is designed to target more than 200, 000 people.

There are concerns about clean-up campaigns often ending up with a hazardous waste being burnt in the middle of the villages, with serious long-term risks to health linked to burning of such hazardous material as asbestos and electronic waste. UNDP has disseminated customized training material in the villages to raise awareness on good practices for debris clearance and waste management. These materials have been produced in English and Fijian languages.


Cash for WorkVillage youth ready to start debris clearance work in Nakodu village of Koro Island. (Photo: UNDP)

As Fiji emerges from one of the worst natural disasters in its history, UNDP is extending an assistance of close to USD 480,000 for restoration of pre-dominantly rural, farm-based livelihoods in the wake of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston. 

The path to early recovery, however, was paved by financial and technical support for the critical tasks of debris clearance and waste management. UNDP allocated USD 130,000 from existing programmes to assist the Ministry of Agriculture. UNDP has reprogrammed USD 50,000 from its on-going projects to support the Ministry of Youth and Sports for enlisting village-level youth under Cash for Work initiative for rehabilitation efforts and debris clearance in Koro Island that witnessed severe devastation to homes and livelihoods. Other support extended includes debris clearing materials fot the communities in most needed areas. 

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.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact

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

United Nations Development Programme
Kadavu House, Level 8, 414 Victoria Parade, Suva, Fiji; Follow us on Twitter: @UNDP Pacific    

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