TC Winston

Shelter remains top priority for cyclone survivors

Just over a month has passed since Tropical Cyclone Winston wreaked havoc on Fiji. The storm damaged an estimated 32,000 homes leaving 150,000 people in need of shelter. Red Cross Emergency Shelter training. Photo: Gillian Hickes, ICRC. Since the storm struck, the Fiji Red Cross has been distributing tarpaulins, toolkits and tents to ensure that […]

Peni Shute

March 27, 2016 12:47 pm

Just over a month has passed since Tropical Cyclone Winston wreaked havoc on Fiji. The storm damaged an estimated 32,000 homes leaving 150,000 people in need of shelter.

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Red Cross Emergency Shelter training. Photo: Gillian Hickes, ICRC.

Since the storm struck, the Fiji Red Cross has been distributing tarpaulins, toolkits and tents to ensure that people have some form of temporary home. Technical staff from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have been providing practical training to Fiji Red Cross staff and volunteers and local communities on how to use the shelter tool kits.

The kit is comprised of two tarpaulins and a set of tools including a hammer, saw, spade, rope, nails and other items. The purpose of the training has been to familiarise people with the kit and demonstrate a few principles around building with tarpaulins and salvaged materials to make sure they can build a safe temporary shelter.

The IFRC’s Pacific Region Shelter Programme Officer, Subesh Prasad, has been training a team of volunteers from Taveuni on the island of Vanua Levu. The idea is to empower volunteers from local Fiji Red Cross branches to help people within their own communities.

The plan is to do a one-day training for volunteers from affected branches so that they can effectively demonstrate to the recipients of these kits, how best to use them to erect a shelter or patch up their homes, said Prasad who has already provided similar training to volunteers in Nalawa in Rakiraki, Suva, Levuka and the Taveuni branches. Next to be trained will be branches in Savusavu, Nabouwalu in Bua, Lautoka, Ba and Tavua.

From the outset, an emphasis was placed on ensuring that both men and women from the community received training. For many volunteers, it was the first time they had learned how to use the kits to erect shelters using locally available timber and bamboo.

Two to three weeks after distributing the kits, the volunteers will make follow-up visits to each community to monitor the progress of different households.

The distributions of the shelter kits are made according to assessments carried out by the local Red Cross branches. We make the follow-up visits to get a clear understanding of the usefulness of the kits to the community.

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