Winston

Understanding the biggest lessons learned in preparing for, responding to and recovering from Tropical Cyclone Winston that decimated parts of the country in February this year will be the focus of a workshop to be held in Suva from tomorrow.

The Tropical Cyclone Winston National Lessons Learned Workshop (July 26-28) led by the Fiji Government and Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is focused on understanding what worked well and the challenges faced by different stakeholders when the largest cyclone in Fiji’s history slammed into the Island Nation in February 2016.

Understanding how best to overcome the challenges and put together concise recommendations that will drive the future of disaster resilience in Fiji will be collated including submissions from workshops held across the country to help understand the best way to move forward and protect the people of Fiji in the future.  A final report will be submitted to cabinet to support future response efforts in the coming months.

Permanent Secretary for Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Mr Meleti Bainimarama said the Fiji NDMO is committed to ensuring that Fiji recovers and builds back better and stronger from the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston.

“This cyclone shows the impact of disaster on our people and the great work that was done to protect the lives and livelihoods of those affected but we can always do better and look into the future to continue to be more resilient to natural disaster,” Mr Bainimarama said.

This timely event is funded by the European Union’s Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific project (BSRP) implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) with funding support from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).  The United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) are also offering technical support.

The Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation for the Pacific, Mr Christoph Wagner said the EU supported the workshop as it would lead to real and tangible outcomes for Fiji since the recommendations that will be made over the coming days and those have been made in all of the divisional workshops will be presented to Cabinet to help make this country stronger to disaster in the future.

“The EU has reserved 23 million EURO (more than 50 million FJD) to support Fiji in the recovery from the impact of Tropical Cyclone Winston. The EU is therefore fully committed to help Fiji in becoming more resilient to natural disasters. It supports this series of workshops which will lead to real and tangible outcomes for the communities affected. The EU commends the Fiji Government and the Pacific Community (SPC) for this innovative work.”

Director-General of the Pacific Community, Dr. Colin Tukuitonga congratulated the strong partnership between SPC and the Fiji Government in finding long-term solutions to disaster resilience in the country.

“The vulnerability that many Pacific Island countries face to great disaster became evident when Cyclone Winston unleashed devastation just over five months ago and we are proud to be working as a strategic partner with Fiji Government to make meaningful strides in creating a more resilient and responsive country to these types of hazards.  Our technical and scientific support will continue to be dedicated to ensuring the real impact of disaster is reduced on the people of the Pacific in the future and this is a testament to that work,” he said.

The Tropical Cyclone Winston National Lessons Learned Workshop will be open by the Assistant Minister for Rural & Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, Joeli Cawaki, and end with a panel discussion on the way forward to disaster resilience to protect the people of Fiji into the future.

Media contacts:
Lisa Kingbserry, SPC Communications and Media Officer, +679 9252 849,  [email protected]
Kasim Mohammed Nazeem, Press Information Officer, European Union +679 8672 255, [email protected]
Mareta Tawake, Senior Media Officer, Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, +679 9908 461, [email protected]

Background information:
The ACP-EU Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific project (BSRP) is a €19.37million project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC).  The objective of the project is to reduce the vulnerability, as well as the social, economic and environmental costs of disasters caused by natural hazards, thereby achieving regional and national sustainable development and poverty alleviation in ACP Pacific Island States.