Nabukadra, Fiji - Three months after Tropical Cyclone Winston, combined efforts of the affected communities, the Government of Fiji and the international community are making positive strides towards restoring food security and farm-based livelihoods and helping move vulnerable Fijian populations on the road to recovery. This was stated by the UNDP Country Director and Head of Policy and Programme Support a.i., Ms. Akiko Fujii, during her visit to Saioko and Nabukadra villages in Ra vince, here today.
A total of 27 village-level chainsaw operators from seven villages of Ra Province -- Matainananu, Delaiyadua, Nadogoloa, Naveisividra, Nabukadra, Nayavutoka, Nadavacia and four smaller settlements -- were presented certificates upon successful completion of “cross-cutting and chainsaw maintenance” training provided by the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests. The chainsaw operators training is part of a wider effort involving the whole village communities in clean-up interventions supported by Government of Fiji and UNDP. Over 260 volunteer participants who registered from the seven villages, benefited from the provision of basic tools, chainsaws, personal protection equipment, as well as training and awareness-building sessions on community-centred good practices for debris disposal and waste management.
This is the second phase of this initiative, and the three villages covered in the first phase -- Saioko, Verevere and Namarai in Nakorotubu sub-district of Ra province -- are already showing progress in getting farms cleared, and some of the debris re-used for key community infrastructure such as home gardens and toilets. The clean-up activities in the first phase involved a total of 167 volunteers, including 30 certified chainsaw operators.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Samuela Lagataki, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, said UNDP had played a vital role in empowering communities and working in collaboration with the forestry department after the cyclone. “The initiative on empowering village-level volunteers for debris clearance and chain-saw operation had laid the foundation for a three-way collaboration on disaster preparedness between the government, the communities and UNDP. There is a huge potential for us to work closely in the future”, Mr. Lagataki said.
Congratulating the participants of the orientation programme in chainsaw operation, Ms. Fujii said, “The work undertaken in debris clearing of key village infrastructure such as drains and village roads will go a long way in opening up access for the villagers to start preparing their farm-lands again for planting the next crop.” She said the Government of Fiji was a signatory to the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Sustainable land management was one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She said the communities in Ra province who were involved in sustainable debris and waste management in the wake of the Tropical Cyclone Winston in their respective villages had shown the way towards local-level action that goes a long way in contributing to internationally-agreed goals for sustainable development.
UNDP is the principal partner of the Fijian Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests in rendering immediate assistance for debris clearance and waste management in 10 villages of Nakorotubu sub-district of Ra province Together with FAO, UNDP supports the Ministry of Agriculture in the revival of farmlands in ten priority villages of Ra province that have witnessed extensive damage to food security and cash crops by Cyclone Winston, reckoned to be the worst natural event of its nature to hit Fiji in decades.
Emily Moli, UNDP Knowledge Communications Analyst, tel: (679) 3227 504; email: firstname.lastname@example.org