On 20 and 21 February Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston cut a path of destruction across Fiji’s islands, blowing off roofs, bringing down trees and power lines, and flooding rivers. The cyclone is estimated to be one of the most severe ever to hit the South Pacific; 42 people were killed and at least 130 were injured in the storm. Whole villages were destroyed on the island of Koro, where a relief and assessment ship was recently deployed. Shelter and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) needs continue to be of great concern. The number of people in evacuation centers continues to decrease as shelter supplies are made available to those who were displaced.
Thanks to United and Airlink’s donors, All Hands was able to able to launch a Disaster Assessment Response Team (DART) to respond immediately and to date, Airlink has helped All Hands deploy 10 staff members. So far, the All Hands team has helped 484 people, working to coordinating 23 local volunteers who have dedicated 289 volunteer hours to relief efforts.
The team is now working on an emergency sanitation project to ensure that those affected by the storm have access to latrines, reducing the risk of typhoid and other waterborne diseases. They are mapping village areas to understand where housing and existing toilets are located, and have launched a pilot program to build 3 latrines, including construction of superstructures and repair of plumbing systems, with the help of community volunteers in the village of Delkado. Over the coming weeks, they will work to rehabilitate 8 units, further refine their assessment and volunteer outreach processes, and establish a work order queue.
All Hands continues to work with a variety of organizations, including UNICEF, Habitat for Humanity Fiji, the UN Shelter Cluster, Disaster Aid International, and ShelterBox to coordinate and plan near-term priorities, including access to water, sanitation and hygiene resources, as well as long-term rebuilding efforts.