UN Resident Coordinator Encourages Fijians To Build Resilient Structures

“Communities can do simple things to ensure that they are more resilient and protected from the next cyclone."
14 Jan 2021 20:18
UN Resident Coordinator Encourages Fijians To Build Resilient Structures
United Nations Resident Co-ordinator Sanaka Samarasinha. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Sanaka Samarasinha has made numerous trips to the Northern Division, visiting some of the most affected areas that TC Yasa has left in its wake.

He is encouraging Fijians to build resilient structures to withstand cyclones.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has made the same call in recent days.

“We need to make sure that homes are reconstructed as soon as possible, they cannot remain in temporary shelters or with their neighbours and friends for very long,” Mr Samarasinha said.

“Therefore I am pleased to note that the Republic of Fiji Military Forces have been repairing damaged homes and when we do this, we must make sure that these new homes that are being built are not built exactly the same way they were built before.

“We really must focus more on ensuring that people are aware of the measures that they themselves can take even with no additional costs to build their homes a bit stronger.

“Even if we can build these homes that can stand wind speeds of category 1, 2, 3 for some of this infrastructure, it’s something we should try to focus on now.”

The UN Resident Coordinator said this was another area UNDP and the Ministry of Disaster Management, Rural and Maritime Development was looking at in terms of model homes.

“Potentially an awareness program to make sure that people are able to follow a certain type of way of building their homes.

“Simple things like making sure that the beams are appropriate distance making sure that the roof sheets are strapped in a particular way.

“If water tanks are being installed potentially with some flexible piping above ground so that it avoids a possibility of breakage, making sure those water tanks are full, so that they are heavy enough not to be shifted by the winds.

“Making sure that when they reconstruct their livestock pens and sheds the roofing sheets are strapped in that it should be done in a place where it is not exposed as many were seen on top of a hill and was blown away.

“Communities can do simple things to ensure that they are more resilient and protected from the next cyclone.

“I hope we can get a nationwide awareness program for communities called Risk Informed Development.

Mr Samarasinha said dead livestock was also a serious issue.

“It can be a major health hazard if it wasn’t addressed that and if carcasses continue to pollute waterways.

Psychological Trauma
Mr Samarasinha said a balanced diet and proper food, without their homes – their lives are disrupted.

“It is not only the initial trauma that they face when they had to hide under tables, beds of their homes but also the on-going trauma of displacement is a real underlying challenge.”

Mr Samarasinha was appreciative of non-government organisations and government departments that have responded through the First Aid Psycho Social-Support.  “There needs to be a longer term approach to address the mental health need so people won’t be affected by the catastrophe as

“In the medium term, we hope to help the country set up a programme that builds capacities nationally with people adequately skilled not just the short term but the medium term needs of trauma victims.

The UN resident continued visits across affected areas in Vanua Levu earlier this week.

Edited by Rosi Doviverata


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