Disaster READY: Local Leadership in Fiji
Fiji experiences natural disasters annually and, on average, is faced with response to a major disaster event every four years. Given the high disaster risk and vulnerability of the Fijian population, local leadership and improved coordination for disaster management is a priority.
In 2018, the first year of Disaster READY in Fiji, the country was hit by two successive tropical cyclones, TC Josie and TC Keni.
Neither cyclone triggered a response through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (as the Government of Fiji did not request international assistance) so no Australian government funding was provided to Australian NGOs. However, even though it was early days for Disaster READY, the AHP Fiji Disaster READY country committee quickly mobilised to deliver a coordinated response. This was one of the first times that NGOs had collaborated effectively on a significant disaster response.
As the Country Committee lead, ADRA Fiji/CAN DO led coordination efforts, keeping DFAT and the AHP Support Unit updated. Plan International Australia was embedded in the Government of Fiji’s National Emergency Operations Centre and other AHP Disaster READY partners worked closely with national humanitarian clusters, including the WASH, education, food security and livelihoods and shelter clusters.
The consortium then took their efforts a step further. They jointly submitted a proposal to the START Network and were successful in securing FJD 500,000 (approx. AUD 330,000) in funding from this global response funding mechanism for NGOs. Such effective cooperation so early in the Disaster READY program demonstrated what can be achieved through collaborative disaster response and planning.
This coordinated response assisted AHP partners to identify some of the key disaster management gaps and challenges at community and local government level and to develop their Disaster READY projects accordingly. Strong country-level coordination continues through collaborative work on disability inclusion, gender equality and child protection.