Churches’ aid agency helps communities stay safe during tropical cyclone Evan
International aid agency Act for Peace’s support of communities in Fiji has helped them to be better prepared for the worst tropical cyclone to hit Fiji in 20 years. Communities have been assisted as part of the Pacific Community-focused Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction (PCIDRR) program to develop disaster action plans and minimise harm to people and property.
Act for Peace’s Anthony Blake, who has been running the program in Fiji for four years, says, “Communities in the north, areas we have visited as recently as last week, after first training them in 2010, have evacuated well ahead of time with food and supplies. This is a great result, and an early indication that communities are better off now than they would have been if we were not able to work with them to develop response plans. We hope — and expect — similar responses from other communities we have assisted in Fiji.”
Over the past five years, Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, has worked with more than 500 vulnerable communities across the Pacific (Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Solomon Islands). Communities are trained to assess risk from natural disasters, develop and implement an action plan to manage those risks, establish dedicated action teams, simulate foreseeable disasters with the whole community, and connect them into national early warning and response networks.
In Fiji Act for Peace partners with the Fiji Council of Churches to deliver the program, which is supported by the Australian Government’s aid program.The program works closely with the Fijian Government’s National Disaster Management Office.
Act for Peace staff who recently travelled to the Northern District in Fiji to conduct training have not been able to return to Suva due to the bad weather. The team is now assisting in the disaster response with the Fiji government.
Alistair Gee, Executive Director of Act for Peace, says, “As the effects of climate change are felt, vulnerable communities in the Pacific need to be prepared to ensure they stay safe and protected. Although this is a devastating situation, we are pleased that the most vulnerable communities have put their disaster plans in action to minimise damage. We now turn our attention to assisting our partners and these communities with their recovery.”