Getting Disaster Ready in Fiji
Updated: Feb 23
Field Ready often helps people after a disaster has already hit. But our efforts also focus on local development and disaster prevention. In Fiji, we're working with the CAN-DO/Safe n' Redi program to make sure communities are prepared for future disasters - especially weather-related ones.
For CAN-DO/Safe n' Redi, we began late last year by meeting with Fijian CAN-DO church stakeholders to see how Field Ready can help ADRA Fiji (the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Fiji) identify churches in communities that can be used as Evacuation Centers during or after a cyclone or flooding. Once those churches were identified, we began working with them and community members to retrofit and train other to retrofit the structures.
Eight churches of various denominations have opted to participate in the program. Each of the churches is expected to serve as an evacuation center for p to 300 people.
Fiji Operations Manager Jean Matthias and field engineer Laisa Meo attended the CAN-DO/Safe n' Redi workshops in November and both presented and described in detail the different products we use to help prepare the structures and the benefits to the communities. Retrofitting includes installing signage to guide people; building and installing ramps, accessible handwashing stations and toilet railings to aid physically challenged people's access to the sites; and providing privacy screens.
The project also makes the churches more accessible for everyday use, as well; physically challenged users will find it much easier to access the retrofitted churches.
One Anglican church - Holy Trinity in Suva (with its new ramp, pictured left and above) - has been completely retrofitted thus far, Matthias said. The teams are currently working on retrofitting two more churches in Saunaka and Narewa Village, Nadi.
"When they're finished they'll serve anyone who may seek shelter during cyclones or flooding," Matthias said, "Before retrofitting, many people wouldn't have had access there if they had disabilities, but now these sites can benefit everyone in an emergency."
Our Fiji team also recently celebrated World Latrine Day with a special trip, traveling nearly seven hours from our offices in Suva to Noikoro Village in Navosa along with Fiji Ministry of Health and Medicine representatives.
Sanitation is a particular concern in the rural South Pacific because the island terrain makes plumbing challenging, so the latrines we distribute and install there have been specially designed by Field Ready engineers with strong input from South Pacific users. The hundreds we've already installed have been welcomed by thousands of people in rural communities, so participating in Noikoro's World Latrine Day event had deep meaning for our team.
Along with Fiji's Minister of Health, other government officials and healthcare leaders, residents of Noikoro celebrated both the upgrade in local sanitation and the regional advances during the event. We look forward to many more such celebrations as we continue to aid more communities in their sanitation improvements.