In the aftermath of the March 30th floods here on the west coast of Viti Levu, there is continuing debates as to how to mitigate and prepare for further disasters and various organizations have begun programs focused on Disaster Risk Reduction through awareness and strategic planning. After GVI's involvement in the Disaster Response efforts in April and the mobilization of volunteers alongside the Red Cross distributing aid in the worst hit areas in Nadi , we have received recognition and thanks from both the Nadi Red Cross president, the Divisional service center coordinator, and the Director General of Fiji Red Cross. By representing GVI as a volunteer organization we have been able to look at interlinking some of our future plans in the Yasawas to the Disaster Risk Reduction strategies of the Red Cross who hope to extend their awareness campaigns to the outer islands later this year.
Two weeks ago Dan Lund, GVI Country Director of Fiji attended a one week training course in the Sabeto Mountains alongside Red Cross representatives from every district in Fiji. The goal of the course was to train participants as Disaster Risk Reduction Trainers as well as practitioners of Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments. Participants were taught how to become advocates of best practice when it comes to planning and preparing for disasters. Guest speakers included representatives from the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), Disaster Coordinators from head office, and Representatives from the Ministry of Health. Over the period of 6 days, participants practiced a number of assessment tools and awareness building strategies in a team setting which culminated in personal presentations to the group on an assigned topic on the final day. Interestingly many of the topics covered in the course in relation to ways to better prepare a community for disaster and ensure its long term security tied in closely with GVI's current initiatives in the Yasawas with major emphasis on water security, water management, food security, new agriculture, and improved health awareness.
After qualifying, all participants will now be heading out to various key communities to run trial Disaster Risk Reduction workshops all across the country. The participants will carry out in depth assessments of the village’s vulnerability to disaster as well as their current capacities to deal with these risks. Last week Dan and various stakeholders from Nadi met in Nadi town to discuss the best way to identify the most vulnerable areas in the Nadi District and use these as a starting point for the Red Cross volunteers carrying out the assessments. The meeting successfully identified two of the most vulnerable settlements in the area. Ratu Meli, Vice President of the Red Cross and also a trustee on the board of the Yasawa Trust, made references to the GVI water program in the Yasawas when issues with water security techniques were raised during the meeting.