Tropical Cyclone Tino surging through Tuvalu early this year (Photo: UNDP/Puanita Ewekia)

Suva, Fiji –
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji through the Pacific Early Recovery Funds (PERF), is assisting Tropical Cyclone Harold Early Recovery (ER) efforts in Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu; and Tropical Cyclone Sarai and Tropical Cyclone Tino ER programmes in Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Established in 2019, the PERF mechanism was set up to assist in post disaster ER efforts for Pacific Island Countries (PICs) affected by a sudden or slow onset of natural hazards. The PERF is implemented by the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji through the Disaster Resilience for Pacific Small Island Developing States (RESPAC) project, with initial funding from the Russian Federation of US$700,000, of which US$440,000 has been released for early recovery efforts.

“The timely release of the funds to Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu will ensure that affected households and communities recover from the impact of TC Harold, TC Sarai and TC Tino – and to restore livelihoods and ensure a quick transition to long term recovery and disaster resilience,” said the Resident Representative of the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Levan Bouadze.

UNDP will work closely with the Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovation (MORDI) Tonga Trust to assist families severely affected by TC Harold, through the cash for work initiative, offering skills development training for women groups, and the provision of materials, seedling, and power tools to help families restore livelihoods that will strengthen food security.

“Support will focus on humanitarian needs for the most affected in E’ua Island. We have discussed activities with the Tonga Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests, the Food Security and Livelihood Cluster and Tonga National Emergency Management Office, to support the rehabilitation of former productive land where crops were destroyed and to provide necessary materials, tools and training to help families. We intend to reach 15 communities, 889 households, consisting of 2486 males, 2459 females of which 412 people are living with a disability,” said the Chief Executive Officer, for the MORDI Tonga, Soane Patolo.

In December 2019, TC Sarai wreaked havoc in Tuvalu and Kiribati causing widespread destruction. A month later in January 2020, TC Tino hit the tiny coral atoll of Tuvalu, with large waves causing catastrophic flooding and uprooting crops. In early April 2020, TC Harold caused devastation in Vanuatu and Fiji, including parts of Tonga and Solomon Islands. Disaster assessments that followed for TC Harold, TC Sarai and TC Tino indicated widespread destruction, leaving behind significant damage to homes, community halls, essential services, infrastructure, food crops, crippling livelihoods for many and placed households on ‘Food Security’ and nutritional security risk.

The UNDP PERF support to Tuvalu will strengthen disaster preparedness planning and communication. The support consists of a dedicated technical expert to support Tuvalu National Disaster Management Office and the handing over of technical equipment including Chatty Beetles, HF and VHF radios.

In Kiribati, UNDP will work closely with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) on the reconstruction of dwellings and meeting houses, as well as the provision of power tools and construction equipment to support reconstruction.

Islands in South Tarawa including Arorae, Beru, Nikunau, Onotoa and Tamana were affected by TC Sarai. NDMO Kiribati will work closely with the Island Councils and members of the impacted communities on the reconstruction of private dwellings and community halls, through this we hope normalcy is restored.

Early recovery support for Fiji and Vanuatu is geared towards the restoration and rehabilitation of early warning systems at community levels to improve disaster resilience and preparedness. These activities are closely coordinated with the respective Meteorological Departments and will directly benefit 18,000 households with timely information for protecting their lives and livelihoods. In addition, a detailed recovery needs assessment is being supported in Vanuatu, led by the Prime Minister’s Office. 

A Letter of Agreement (LOA) between the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji and the NDMO in Kiribati, the Department of Strategic Policy Planning and Aid Coordination (DSPPAC) in Vanuatu, and the Meteorological departments in Fiji and Vanuatu has solidified UNDP’s support. A Low Value Grant (LVG) agreement was also signed in June 2020 with the MORDI Tonga Trust. All agreements support the ongoing efforts towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities - and SDG 13 on Climate Action and ensuring women, children and those living with disabilities needs are addressed.

The PERF also assisted the Government of Vanuatu, DSPPAC in 2019 for the “Ambae and Affected Islands Recovery Plan project”, which focused on upskilling the people in Ambae living in Santo, on sustainable processing of timber; training of national and disaster management coordinators to improve Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and Disaster Recovery Framework (DRF); and support to improve and access water supply.

The PERF is intended to be replenished through crowdfunding campaigns, starting off with the TC Harold crowdfunding campaign in Tonga, followed by campaigns for the other affected countries.

For more information, please contact:

Noud Leenders, Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Advisor and RESPAC Project Manager, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, -

Andrea Waqa – Montu, Communications Specialist, RESPAC Project, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, or phone + (679) 331 2500

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