Eight months since Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated the South Pacific Island nation of Fiji, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) recovery efforts in partnership with the Fiji Government have been progressively underway to rebuild people’s livelihoods.
A team from the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji and visiting representatives from the Russian Government paid a site visit to Koro Island yesterday, which bore the brunt of the Category Five Cyclone – to witness how the Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston Response and Recovery Project is benefiting the people, as they strive to recover from one of the most powerful cyclones to ever hit the country.
The Russian Government delegation is here to launch a US$7.5m regional programme on Disaster Resilience and the visit showed how UNDP’s work with partners on the ground is benefitting communities in need of recovery assistance.
UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director and Head of Regional Policy and Programme, Bakhodir Burkhanov said, “The TC Winston Response and Recovery Project has supported the affected communities in debris clearance, replanting home gardens and re-establishment of pandanus plantations, among other results.”
He added, “The project continues until December focusing on training village carpenters in more resilient building practices, and agronomic support to communities to conserve soil quality, prune tree crops and do organic farming.”
This Response and Recovery Project supported home gardening initiatives in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture in more than 600 households with the provision of tools and seedlings or cuttings of disaster resilient traditional crops such as saijan or moringa, bele sukau or gnemon, tubua or amaranth and dalo-ni-tana or tannia taro.
The project also supported the re-establishment of the Pandanus plantation given its commercial use for mat weaving, which is one of Koro’s leading source of income.
Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture Acting Director Extension, Mr. Jone Sovalawa said, “The Ministry values UNDP's collaborative efforts and partnerships which assist in its recovery programs. UNDP has worked closely with the Ministry staff in Koro and has contributed a lot in terms of basic farming tools and seeds.”
“The Ministry's recovery efforts is aimed at restoring livelihoods and food security and it is willing to continually work with UNDP in Koro and also other localities severely hit by TC Winston,” said Sovalawa.
Recovery efforts also include debris clearance work using the Cash for Work modality in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Carpentry training in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and International Organisation for Migration, as well as a Chainsaw training by the Ministry of Forestry – all of which have been successfully conducted.
Tropical Cyclone Winston was recorded as the strongest ever in the Southern Hemisphere with wind gusts of 306 kilometers per hour. Koro Island sustained severe damage, with schools destroyed and many structures losing their roofs.
Setaita Tavanabola, UNDP Communications and Knowledge Management Associate, tel: (679) 3227 523; email: firstname.lastname@example.org