Building resilient communities through disaster risk reduction training
Monday, 22 July 2013 15:32
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Monday, 22 July 2013 –

Sixteen people from the community of Koroiyaca in Fiji were specially selected by their village to take part in disaster risk reduction training provided by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) together with Act for Peace (AfP) and the Ba Provincial Council.  Koroiyaca is located in the lower catchment of Sabeto, Nadi, and sits in a flood plain so is vulnerable to flooding, cyclones and other natural disasters.

The training is part of an integrated approach to building resilience in selected communities in six countries under the Vegetation and Land Cover Mapping and Improving Food Security for Building Resilience to a Changing Climate in Pacific Island Communities project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

During the five-day training in Koroiyaca, from 15 to 19 July, participants were taught to analyse and build on existing knowledge to identify and prepare for major disasters and cope afterwards. These skills are particularly important given the recent large-scale flooding that has occurred regularly since 2009 in Fiji’s Western Division. People in the Nadi area are now acutely aware of the importance of being prepared for natural disasters.  Disaster reduction committees, early warning systems and food security measures are all part of preparedness.

Major income sources for the Koroiyaca community include tourism, sugarcane farming and employment in urban areas, so over the years people have tended to lose their knowledge of and dependence on their agriculture systems. The training opened the minds of locals to new concepts on reducing the risks of disasters as well as the value of traditional knowledge and indicators of major natural disasters.

The week-long community training covered hazard and capacity surveys, development of a disaster risk reduction action plan, community disaster response arrangements, and community hazard/vulnerability mapping. It also helped the community learn about using seasonal calendars based on local indicators such as fruiting times, animal behaviour and weather patterns to adequately plan planting and harvesting times to minimise potential crop losses.

On the last day, a simulation exercise enabled the community to test their emergency response plan.

Sereana Saukalou of Act for Peace says this type of training raises awareness and helps people take care of their own communities, which is important as the whole of Fiji is vulnerable to natural disasters.

‘We need to devise adaptation measures to reduce the impacts of climate change and we need to relate these measures to reducing the impact of risk. We cannot control disasters but we can work to control risks.’

The USAID project is also working with the local agriculture sector to set up nurseries, demonstration farms and livestock interventions for the five communities in the Sabeto catchment area to ensure that sustainable farming systems, including ‘climate-ready’ crops, are accessible to communities, particularly in times of natural disaster. The importance of consuming a variety of local crops that are adapted to the local climate and readily available is being highlighted as part of building resilience both prior to and after disaster events.

The Roko Tui Ba, Timoci Tukana, stressed the role of traditional structures during disasters and the importance of community togetherness, saying people are like reeds:

‘A single reed on its own can be easily cut, but tying them together makes it impossible to cut them. Similarly for us, if we work alone we could easily fail, but as a community working together we can survive these disasters and reduce the risks that come with them. No man is an island.’

SPC, AfP and the Ba Provincial Council will follow up with the Koroiyaca Community Disaster Management Committee on progress on their delegated responsibilities.

Similar training is planned for five other communities in the Sabeto catchment – Narokorokoyawa, Naboutini, Natalau, Korobebe and also Nagado in the Vaturu district.


For more information, please contact:

Vuki Buadromo, Project Manager, Enhanced Climate Change Resilience of Food Production Systems USAID Project, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , +679 3370 733

Miriama Brown, Pacific Agricultural & Forestry Policy Network (PAFPNet) Technician, Land Resources Division, SPC, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , +679 3370 700

David Owen, Act for Peace, Lautoka, Fiji, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , +679 9988 091