Down by the River: Addressing the rights, needs and strengths of Fijian sexual and gender minorities in disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response.

The project team followed Fijian sexual and gender minorities ‘Down By The River’ as they shared stories of everyday life before and after Tropical Cyclone Winston. During the community-mapping sessions participants drew maps of their communities and places of significance including where they work, meet friends, feel safe or unsafe. In addition to use as aides-memoire during individual story-sharing, the maps highlighted common interests. The most striking of these was the importance of places for individuals and groups to get away from the stresses of public or private life experienced by sexual and gender minorities. These places — often down by the river, by the sea, under the bridge, or at the nightclub — were sometimes places to recover after a beating, sometimes places of peaceful solitude, and sometimes places for close friends and chosen family to meet, provide mutual support, share information (and gossip), dance, sing, and more. They are a spatial dimension of the informal networks that help many people within sexual and gender minorities to survive within a hostile or unsympathetic world.

The development of Down By The River is part of Oxfam’s Pacific humanitarian capacity building project funded by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Humanitarian Partnership Agreement. Oxfam country offices nominated areas for investigation that constituted gaps to be addressed by future humanitarian capacity building initiatives. While concluding the recovery efforts for TC Winston, Oxfam in Fiji noted a gap in sexual and gender minority inclusion, leading Oxfam Australia to commission Edge Effect, and for Oxfam in Fiji to engage Fiji Rainbow Pride Foundation for this research project.

Read the full report here.

Clare PriceComment