Risk informing community development projects in Vanua Levu

Feb 16, 2018

Forestry staff and communities planting trees as part of the afforestation programme on Mali Island (Photo: Ministry of Fisheries and Forests)

Vanua Levu, Fiji - Community development projects in the Northern Division of Fiji are becoming more resilient to disasters and climate change following ongoing work to risk inform community development plans. 

During a recent proposal writing training for community leaders in the Northern Division, Commissioner Northern, Jovesa Vocea set the scene stating, “We need to do smarter development. We need to ensure that we’re anticipating the future every step of the way in implementing development priorities in our communities.”

The Turaga ni Koro and Roko Tui from the Provinces of Bua, Cakaudrove and Macuata, learnt about the adoption of ‘risk screening’ through training by the Commissioner Northern Division’s Office. Risk screening is a process whereby disaster, climate, social and environmental risks are taken into consideration in the design, implementation and evaluation of regular development projects. 

Provincial Administrator from Bua, Inoke Tuiwainunu, outlined an example of a recently completed farm road project that had been risk screened in the Northern Division. The potential risk for landslide and environmental damage identified during the design of the public capital works project was worth $47,000 FJD. 

Tuiwainunu said, “We included measures to address these problems from the start. The angle the road was cut, the location of the road, were all done in consideration of disaster, climate change and environmental risks. The improvement in road conditions, including a planned bridge, are priorities for the community to access health services in times of flood.” 

Not only is development heavily impacted by disasters and climate change, development also has the potential to cause harm. 

Speaking to participants, Senior Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (CCDRM) Officer, Jiuta Waqavonovono said, “Women’s voices are often not heard in development decision making, even though it might not sound in line with tradition, we need to work towards everyone’s voices and needs being heard in the prioritisation and implementation of development plans.”

The participants have all assisted their villages complete community development plans and have begun implementation. Disaster and climate change risks were also considered as they created the plans. For example, reforestation took place in Mali District in Macuata that addressed the potential for landslide and increased potential for income generation through sustainable forestry practices.  

In view of further implementing activities identified in the community development plans, participants received information about development funding opportunities such as through government initiatives and small grants programmes. The risk screening of priority community projects was also practised to enable the participants to undertake the practice in their everyday work.

“We have greater knowledge on how to attract funding for the development projects that our communities need. We need to risk screen to ensure the sustainability of these projects in the long term. No one wants to waste money by having to build back again when it could have been done better the first time,” said Roko Tui Bua, Aisake Sivo Nadumu. 

In rolling out risk screening across the Northern Division, the Commissioner Northern’s Office plans to translate the risk screening tool into the vernacular language. 

This initiative is under the Pacific Risk Resilience Programme delivered through a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme and the Live and Learn Environmental Education, with support from the Australian Government.

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