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Maqalevu Settlement Disaster Risk Reduction

By 5 years ago
Categories Fiji Islands

 In the months following the March 30th Flooding disaster and GVI’s cooperation with the Fiji Red Cross to assess and distribute Aid, GVI have continued to work with  local communities to enhance disaster risk reduction and preparedness with the Nadi Red Cross. This has involved a process of assessing and identifying danger zones and specifically vulnerable villages and settlements.

Maqalevu Settlement located on a low lying area east of tidal mangroves and the Port Denerau development was identified as being one of the most at risk flood zones in the area. Between August and September, the Red Cross ran an intial disaster risk reduction workshop which involved the amassing of data on all elements of life in the settlement such as – historical mapping of disasters, daily routines, daily challenges, home locations, evacuation plans, major risks, sources of income, etc. This data was collected through a series of team tasks, lectures and group projects facilliated by myself and the Red Cross Disaster Risk Reduction team. This information was then compiled into a detailed document.

Two Months later on the 26th of November,our team returned to the settlement community hall to present the data, recap on definitions of disasters, risks and capacity, and ultimately to empower the community to draw up a disaster management plan.

After almost eight hours of discussions and group tasks, we left the community having put together the first draft of a management plan that has been drawn up for the community by the community to address the specific issues related to the specific location, vulnerabilities, and available capacities in Maqalevu Settlement. This process has proved to both the settlement members and the facilitators that an organised community centerd approach to Risk Reduction has huge benefits  Firstly, the community was able to, as a group, share best practise and put forward simple solutions to response and prevention. Secondly, the exercise ensured that there were clear goals for the community to work towards together. Thirdly, the specific outside support and expertise that is required to ensure the safety of this community was clarified and can now be directed to the government and relevant agencies. We now have a huge amount of data on Maqalevu, the challenges the area faces in disasters, and information on the way the village has responded.

Looking through the hand drawn risk maps, brainstorming notes, and group created charts on solutions to food shortages, water contamination, flood house prep, etc, I was really impressed by the information that had come to the surface and it was clear that the community had many of the answers. It also became clear that there were specific factors and problems that led to this settlement’s vulnerability to disasters and the Red Cross team was confident that this exercise and the resulting data could now be used to better inform the next steps taken by both the local community and the government towards reducing the risks that Maqalevu faces during disasters.