On Saturday 20th February, the highly-destructive Tropical Cyclone Winston smashed into Fiji, displacing 54,000 people, killing 44 people and affecting 350,000. It is considered the most severe cyclone to have ever hit the Pacific. The extent of damage to infrastructure, shelter, schools and water and sanitation systems across many parts of the country is estimated to be in excess of half a billion USD.
Heavy rains from Tropical Depression Zena caused flooding between 4 and 7 April 2016 in North and West of Fiji. Consequently, 79 evacuation centers were opened and the wellbeing of 30,000 households whose homes were destroyed or damaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston was of particular concern. Although the effects of the storm were felt in some areas, Cyclone Zena passed Fiji at a greater distance and weaker strength than initially predicted.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this. The noise was frightening as roofs were blown off homes and trees were ripped out by their roots,” Save the Children Fiji CEO Iris Low-McKenzie said.
Tragically, around a third of the population affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston are children — 43,000 children of those are under 5 years old.
Your support is vital – please donate now to help children and families in the aftermath of this devastating cyclone.
Along with meeting immediate needs like food, water and shelter, the wellbeing of vulnerable children in evacuation centres must be prioritised. There are more than 80 evacuation centres across the country, and some are hosting as many as 300 children. There is a very real need for child protection services in these evacuation centres to ensure the wellbeing of children.
“This is an enormous tragedy in Fiji. Our nation has never faced anything like this before, and we still don’t know the full extent of the storm’s impact,” Ms Low-McKenzie said.
But what we do know is that the recovery process will take many, many months as families who have lost their homes and livelihoods slowly rebuild.
Please donate now to help the children and families devastated by Cyclone Winston in Fiji.
Part of Save the Children’s emergency response includes establishing safe places for children at evacuation centres. These will provide children with a safe place to be engaged in educational play with other children, while giving parents a much-needed opportunity to go out and assess the damage and start to rebuild their lives.
We have a stockpile of emergency supplies to ensure children can return to school as soon as possible. This includes school bags, classroom kits and child friendly spaces kits for evacuation centres.
Save the Children has been working in Fiji since 1974 providing education and child protection services.
Ratios calculated across all of Save the Children’s activities for the year ended 31 December 2014. See our 2014 Annual Report for further details.