Fiji: Cyclone Ami Appeal No. 03/03

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On 14 January 2002, 4 am local time, Tropical Cyclone Ami hit Fiji destroyed homes and flooded parts of the South Pacific Archipelago with winds of up to 185km/h (115mph). The main affected areas were the northeast coast of Vanua Levu, the second largest island in Fiji, Taveuni, Rabi and other surrounding smaller islands known as the Lau Group. A state of disaster has been declared for the areas of Lau, Lomaiviti and the whole of Vanua Levu.

Villages and settlements in the path of the cyclone were badly affected, with major damage to houses, crops and infrastructure including schools, telecommunications and electricity supply. Heavy rainfall led to landslides and intensive flooding, and combined with storm surges to give rise to dangerous flash floods. Fourteen people are confirmed dead mostly by drowning. Some others remain missing.

Electricity supplies were cut in and around Labasa, leaving the water system inoperable and about 75% of the urban and peri-urban population without drinking water. In rural areas water sources were damaged or contaminated by flood waters. The lack of access to clean water has become a major concern, with increased risks of serious outbreaks of water-borne diseases including cholera, and leptospirosis, which is endemic in the area.

Several roads around Labasa and Savusavu were damaged by landslides and flood waters, and a bridge at Vunisevi was badly damaged. The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) is collecting data from damage reports, but consolidated figures are not yet available. Damage assessment and evaluation of needs is ongoing.

source NEOC 21 Jan 03
population affected
schools damaged
Lau district
data not available
Macuata district
data not available
Cakaudrove district

Meanwhile, the Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) was the first to respond, providing the affected population with relief items through its branch network supported by Red Cross volunteers. The FRCS focused on the provision of pre-packed humanitarian emergency family packs containing clothing, cooking utensils, blankets, towels, soap, antiseptic cream, first aid supplies, mosquito coils, all wrapped in black polythene sheeting. In addition it distributed water containers, cooking sets, buckets, tarpaulins, oral rehydration salts and water purification tablets. It has also deployed a water purification plant to the district hospital of Labasa.

To date the FRCS has assisted more than 53,000 people, but its disaster preparedness (DP) stocks have now been exhausted.

This appeal is to enable FRCS to extend further support and provide more relief goods and access to drinking water for an estimated 30,000 target beneficiaries. In addition it aims to support basic repairs to damaged community schools, as well as to rebuild & reinforce existing disaster preparedness measures for the remainder of the cyclone season and future years.


Immediate Needs

The overall goal of this relief operation is to assist FRCS to meet the most elementary household requirements for some 30,000 women, men and children affected by the cyclone on the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni, and other small surrounding islands. Immediate needs include the supply of non-food relief items, provision of clean drinking water, communication equipment, shelter & tents, and emergency repair/reconstruction material for community facilities such as schools.


The FRCS, as a member of National Disaster Management Council (DISMAC), is keeping close contacts with relevant Government Departments, Fiji Marine Forces, Diplomatic Missions in Suva, UNOCHA, as well as other aid agencies to coordinate its relief operations.

Proposed Operation

In order to address immediate needs of the most affected population, the FRCS proposes to work in three main lines of action: the distribution of non-food emergency relief supplies, the provision of potable water, and the repair of community schools destroyed or badly damaged by the disaster.

Objectives and activities planned to reach the objectives

Relief: distribution of basic non-food items

Objective 1: To provide 30,000 people with basic essential non-food items

Many victims have lost all their household belongings as they were swept away or rendered useless by flood water .During the first days after the disaster the FRCS distributed family kits of essential non-food items to more than 20,000 people from its own pre-positioned stock. The family kits - also called "black packs" as they are wrapped in black polythene sheeting which can be used for shelter and collecting rainwater - include clothing, cooking utensils, blankets, towels, soap, antiseptic cream first aid supplies and mosquito coils. Items are based on an average family of six, with clothes in regular sizes for children, adult females and males.

Planned activities include:

  • Procure necessary items for family packs (black pack): clothing, cooking utensils, blankets, towels, soap, first aid supplies, etc.
  • Repacking by Red Cross volunteers
  • Distribution to targetted families in most affected areas

Water and sanitation

Objective 2: To provide 30,000 people with clean potable water for a period of max 4 weeks

As water systems have broken down in both urban and rural areas the population has resorted to the use of contaminated water sources, greatly increasing the risk of spreading water borne diseases. The operation intends to provide access to clean water for 5000 families, until public systems have been repaired or up to a maximum of 4 weeks.

The Fiji RC has deployed a large purification plant to the district hospital of Labasa, and will deploy smaller units and water storage tanks to strategic locations in urban areas. Small purification plants will become part of DP stock after use, for wat/san capacity building at national and/or regional level as part of the disaster preparedness programme.

In rural areas access to safe water will be ensured through the distribution of small containers and water purification tablets. The latter will be imported as stocks in Fiji have run out. FRCS volunteers will carry out hygiene promotion activities in the targetted communities, to ensure proper use and promote basic sanitation. Health promotion materials will be produced in all major languages of the areas concerned.

Planned activities include:

  • Procure and distribute water containers/jerrycans and purification tablets to 5000 families (30,000 people)
  • Procure and deploy 10 water purification units combined with water storage tanks
  • Carry out hygiene promotion activities at community level focusing on key messages regarding clean water and basic sanitation.

Reconstruction & recovery

Objective 3: To promote the repair & recovery of damaged schools and community infrastructure

High winds caused extensive damage to schools and other community infrastructure, causing the partial or total collapse of roofs. The opening of the new school year - scheduled for the end of Jan 2003 - may be delayed in many affected communities. The FRCS intends to distribute roof sheets and basic building materials to community schools in order to speed up the recovery, and to allow students to resume their normal life as soon as possible.

Planned activities include:

  • Identification and selection of community infrastructure to be targeted
  • Procurement and distribution of corrugated roof sheets or other basic building materials
  • Monitoring of self-help repair and reconstruction work

Disaster preparedness and capacity building

During the first week of the operation, the FRCS distributed relief materials worth an estimated 360,000 FJD (around CHF 245,000) from its DP stock which had been built up strategically pre-positioned throughout the territory. Stocks are now nearly depleted, and need to be replenished as soon as possible, especially since the cyclone season has not reached its peak yet. In addition, there is a need to support some of the branches through training and provision of materials such as telecom equipment. A small proportion of the funds raised under this appeal will be earmarked for these activities.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement -- Principles and priorities

The operation will be carried out in accordance with the Movement's fundamental principles. The most affected areas represent Fiji's multi-ethnic composition, and special attention will be given to ensure beneficiary participation in the design and implementation of the programme. General information about the relief operation and hygiene promotion materials will be made available in all three major languages.

Media/Public Information Plan

The FRCS has issued daily press releases to inform the general public and donors about ongoing activities and the situation in general, and to draw support for its own national fundraising campaign. It has strongly advocated in favour of the most needy and regarding the most urgent priority needs, and has received extensive media coverage as the leading humanitarian responder in the current crisis.

Capacity of the National Society

The FRCS has a total of 27 staff and a core group of around 1000 volunteers, all of whom are trained in First Aid.

The FRCS headquarters are based in Suva, and out of a total of 14 branches five are located in the areas affected by the disaster. Staff and volunteers from other branches were also mobilised. Over 1,700 Red Cross volunteers are currently involved in relief efforts across the affected areas.

Red Cross branches have 30 volunteers trained in disaster management, and 100 qualified first aid instructors. Regular programmes include First Aid, youth, health and care and blood donor recruitment. Annual accounts are audited by an external auditor (2001:KPMG)

Monitoring and Evaluation

Proposed activities to monitor and evaluate the overall effectiveness of the Fiji Red Cross and the Federation relief operation include:

  • End-user monitoring through household-level visits and interviews ensures women, men and children can provide feedback on the effectiveness of the assistance
  • Monitoring and final evaluation activities providing information on the effectiveness of the programme in meeting the needs of the Red Cross beneficiaries

Capacity of the Federation

The Federation's Regional Delegation for the Pacific is based in Suva, and is staffed by 3 international delegates -Head of Regional Delegation (HoRD), Regional Disaster Preparedness Delegate (RDPD), and Regional Health Delegate (RHD)- and 5 local staff including a qualified finance officer. An experienced relief delegate will be made available to support the operation.

Further technical input and support in the areas of finance, reporting, information & logistics is available from the regional service units based in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok where needed.

Budget summary

See Annex 1 for details.

For further details please contact:

Alison Cupit, Secretary General, Fiji Red Cross, Phone: 679 331 4133; Fax: 679 330 3818; email: or

Leon Prop, Head of Regional Delegation in Suva, Phone: 679 331 1855; Fax: 679 331 1406; email:

Satoshi Sugai, Federation Desk Officer, Phone: 41 22 730 4273; Fax: 41 22 733 0395; email:

All International Federation Assistance Operations seek to adhere to the Code of Conduct and are committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

In line with the Minimum Reporting Standards, the first operations update on this appeal will be issued within 30-days of the launch and the second will be issued over the course of the operation; a final narrative and financial report will be issued no later than 90 days after the end of the operation.

This operation seeks to administer to the immediate requirements of the victims of this disaster. Subsequent operations to promote sustainable development or longer-term capacity building will require additional support and these programmes are outlined on the Federation website.

For support to or for further information concerning Federation operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at

Abbas Gullet
Disaster Management and Coordination

Didier J. Cherpitel
Secretary General