High Cost Of Cyclones In Fiji And Pacific

Tropical Cyclone Winston is the strongest cyclone ever recorded for the Southern Hemisphere. The damage that Cyclone Winston left behind is astronomical with most left with nothing else but the
05 Mar 2016 08:31
High Cost Of Cyclones In Fiji And Pacific
The roof of Ba Muslim Primary School was destroyed during Cyclone Winston. The super storm is expected to have caused $41.69 million worth of damage to the education sector alone. Photo: ABC

Tropical Cyclone Winston is the strongest cyclone ever recorded for the Southern Hemisphere.

The damage that Cyclone Winston left behind is astronomical with most left with nothing else but the clothes on their back.

Cyclones affects economic growth and the Governor of Fiji recently announced that the forecast for economic growth this year is 3.5% compared to 4% last year.

The economic costs of a disaster such as a cyclone can be enormous and can have significant consequences for government finances and the longer-term growth capacity of the Fiji economy.

It is estimated that the total cost of damage for Cyclone Winston is $1 billion dollars including education estimated at $41.69 million and agriculture sector sustaining damages worth $102 million.


Negative Impacts

Costs associated with cyclones have significant negative economic impacts on Pacific Island Countries.

It affects our agriculture sector, infrastructure and economic development, housing, education and the services sector and the people face social and economic hardships and at times, it takes years for some of these sectors to recover.

The Table shows the costs associated with cyclones and it ranges in USD millions of dollars.

An example was cyclone Kina, and it costed Fiji close to FJ$170 million.

Cyclone Kina affected the agriculture sector sustaining damages worth FJ$64 million, major structures damage was estimated at FJ$26 million, road rehabilitation estimated at FJ$6 million.

Also telecommunications and power supply damage was estimated close to FJ$9 million, reconstruction of schools was estimated to over FJ$8 million which includes replacement of equipment and books.

Housing however, was severely affected and cost of damages was estimated at $20 million with as many as 5500 structures either completely destroyed or damaged heavily.


Damage Around The Pacific

For Samoa, Cyclone Val proved to be one of the most destructive cyclones and the total cost of estimated damages was US$250 million.

Western Samoa took the brunt of the cyclone damaging water pipes, electrical and telephone communication cables.

Their agriculture sector incurred over 80% of damages, housing damages was also over 80% and the coral reef at Fagatele Bay was completely destroyed.

Cyclone Heta hit Tonga damaging crops and houses and buildings and the cost of damages was estimated at US$160,000.

The same cyclone hit Niue as well causing damages of more than NZD 85 million, residential and commercial areas were flattened leaving 200 people homeless.


Adoption Of National Building Code

In Pacific Island Countries, it can be noted that during the cyclone, apart from agriculture, housing stands to get the most affected.

For Fiji, the formulation of a National Building Code which came into effect in the wake of the destructive cyclones of 1982/83 was designed as a means of reducing the damage to building structures from natural disasters by enhancing cyclone resistance of such property (Benson 1996).

Unfortunately, its adoption remains largely confined to urban areas, therefore, still leaving the rural areas vulnerable.



With increasing El Nino effects of more adverse weather for the Pacific via cyclones and rising sea levels, it would be strategically sound to diversify into manufacturing.

This is as our key industries are hugely exposed to weather conditions namely Tourism and Agriculture.

The now and short term should have all homes certified cyclone proof despite their locations whether it be in a city, town or village.

When cyclones happen, at times electrical lines are affected, and when there is no electricity this means no water pumps or treatment works, hence, no safe drinking water.

Food security, shelter and health are also affected, hence, external donors and voluntary groups play pivotal roles in the provision of emergency assistance.

To conclude, we are so grateful for the assistance offered and donations coming in and still continuing.

It has helped us in so many ways which includes reconstruction and also recovery activities are already underway.

To those who have lost loved ones, our deepest condolences and may they rest in peace.

This is an informative publication, sponsored by The Fiji Sun, Fiji Bureau of Statistics and HFC Bank. All views expressed or implied are purely of the Treasurer at the HFC Bank, Peter Fuata.


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