Apisalome Mavono and Susanne Becken said, “One such structure that can contribute to the collective good, community wellbeing, and quality of life for iTaukei (indigenous Fijians) is solesolevaki, a means whereby people can work together for the common good without expectation of individual payment. Solesolevaki draws upon social capital, entails indigenous values and ethos.”
It is the spirit of ‘solesolevaki’ that brought villagers based in the capital Suva and abroad to contribute to the rehabilitation and reconstruction in Kadavu. In the same spirit of solesolevaki, development partners are also part of the solesolevaki web with timely interventions that have met community needs. Various UN agencies contributed to the disaster relief and response phase including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which joined the disaster recovery phase.
When a disaster hits, infrastructure, livelihoods, food security is affected, and families are relocated. If we sit back and unpack the consequences of a disaster, they all infringe and pull away at the seams of UN SDGs – Poverty, Education, Health, Zero Hunger. This is enough fuel to drive development partners and community as a whole to band together to ensure help is given so communities do not fall back further into poverty and to call for more Climate Action.
To ensure no one is left behind, decision making process needs to be inclusive of the participation of women, children, persons living with a disability and the elderly.
Ms Sainiana Vunitilo, leader for the Nabukelevu- i-ra, Soqosoqo Vakamarama, Methodist Church women’s group said the group have not been able to earn an income from the weaving of handicraft because of the damages caused by TC Harold and the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“Children till today still fear the sounds of the winds as it takes them back to when TC Harold visited. Thanks to the support from UNDP, life is getting better,” said Ms Vunitilo.
"We face a lot of difficulties as a group, we used to participate in shows where we earn money from weaving and handicraft. When the cyclone came and the COVID-19 pandemic, it became difficult for us, travel was restricted, large gatherings were also not allowed,” said Ms. Vunitilo.
With source of livelihood destroyed, and debts to be settled, Ms Vunitilo and many other families in Kadavu were relieved with the timely distribution of cash voucher assistance enabling families to purchase food from the local village cooperative as well settle debts at the village cooperative.
26-year-old, Ms Lita Cavalevu worked for one of the five-star resorts in Nadi for six years. In April this year, due to COVID-19, Cavalevu lost her job and moved back to Nabukelevu-ira with her six children.
Ms Cavalevu said “It has been tough, I can’t deny it’s been really tough, especially being in the city and re-adjusting to village life, it is also hard here in the village, adjusting to this lifestyle, but we are pulling through. Harold came and it hasn’t dampened our spirit so with the aid we have been receiving, we received $100 per family, that has really helped a lot, especially with my kids, with toddlers that need to be fed. I am thankful to ADRA, UNDP RESPAC and the government of Fiji and Australia.”
Officer-in-Charge at the UNDP Pacific Officer in Fiji then, Nasantuya Chuluun said “More and more, we witness how resilient the people of Fiji and especially the people of Kadavu.”
Ms. Chuluun who was part of the mission added “despite the disasters, despite all the adversities, which you experienced earlier this year, you were able to rise to the occasion. We are calling the motto of this mission building Kadavu resilience.”
To support this solesolevaki, UNDP has provided power tools for housing construction to all tikinas in Kadavu and initiated four technical training courses in collaboration with the Fiji National University. Courses provided will cover design and implement small solar micro-grids, plumbing, carpentry and small engine repair and maintenance.