Rotary New Zealand Responds To Cyclone Yasa, Fiji
Prepositioned Rotary Emergency Response Kits in Labasa and Suva were amongst the first items of support that communities on the island of Vanua Levu have received following Cyclone Yasa’s destructive forces on 17 December.
Vanua Levu was amonst the worst affected. The main damage is loss of homes, schools and other infrastructure mostly in rural communites in addition to severe damage to crops and land. The loss of income to the rural community as a result of Covid is now exaserbated by Yasa.
Taveuni Island was also badly hit with severe crop and land damage, but unlike Vanua Levu damage to homes and infrastructure was minimal. Taveuni have adopted a “Build Back Better” philosophy in the past decade and the results are clearly evident. Spokesperson Stuart Batty says “Rotary has supported Taveuni communites throughout this period insisting on “Build Back Better”. If the same philosophy was adopted elsewhere in Fiji and across Pacific countries as a whole, New Zealand and others donors would no longer face an almost annual call to replace and rebuild.
Worrying for donors is the intensity of Cyclone Yasa so early in the 6 month cyclone period and the liklihood of another category 5 cyclone causing major damage before the end of May 2021.
”Rotary has prepositioned Emergency Response Kits in Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands ready to respond as soon as the country’s National Disaster Management Office gives the go ahead. Batty who has been engaged in response to cyclones for the past twenty years says “the level of preparedness by governments and communities across the Pacific improves with every passing year and it too contributed to the impact of Cyclone Yasa which would have been far greater without communities being prepared.”