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Save the Children getting Fijian communities DisasterREADY

Leading aid agency Save the Children is running emergency simulations in the Western District communities of Narewa, Vio Island and Votua this week to test the effectiveness of Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA) in emergency responses.

CVA is a way to deliver assistance in a crisis that gives people greater choice, dignity and control over their lives. The initiative provides access to cash or vouchers for those affected by disaster, enabling them to buy local goods from local markets and meet their most urgent needs.

The drills will trial the effectiveness of the electronic delivery of cash assistance to households – primarily through mobile devices – in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. In a world-first, the CVA drills have been incorporated into broader disaster preparedness exercises.

With cyclone season looming this is particularly important in the Asia-Pacific, the most disaster-prone region in the world, where residents are five times more likely to experience a natural disaster than someone living elsewhere in the world.

Save the Children Fiji CEO Shairana Ali said that; ‘Through this exercise, our aim is to ensure that when we do implement CVA should a natural disaster strike, we are able to deliver cash assistance to affected families and children in a timely manner and that these families are able to access basic needs in the shortest possible time’

‘Testing our CVA mechanism now is quite timely as the cyclone season is fast approaching and we would like to make sure that communities especially children are prepared,’ Ms Ali said.

“For the first time anywhere, Cash and Voucher Assistance has been included as part of broader community disaster preparedness drills, so it marks a significant step forward in efforts to prepare communities for the increasing frequency and intensity of disaster.

“This is key to overall preparedness, particularly in light of the overwhelming evidence which shows that giving people greater control and choice, results in much improved disaster recovery outcomes for communities, families and individuals.

“Cash and Voucher Assistance also has broader benefits through its flow-on effect of supporting the local economy and getting businesses moving in the immediate aftermath of disaster.”

The three communities were chosen because all had Community Disaster Committees and so were well set up for the drill, they exist in disaster prone areas and they had also expressed a strong desire to participate.

Next year Save the Children plans to roll out Cash and Voucher Assistance activities in other Fijian communities as well as in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

This project is funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP) Disaster READY program, of which Save the Children is a member. As part of the Disaster READY program, Save the Children is focused on conducting a series of feasibility studies and preparedness initiatives across Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands in order to increase awareness, capacity and expertise in CVA in the Pacific Islands.

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