Fiji: Cyclone Ami Appeal No. 03/03 Final Report


The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilising the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organisation and its millions of volunteers are active in over 181 countries.
In Brief

Appeal No. 03/03; Period covered: January 2003 to August 2003; Final Report; Final appeal coverage: 93.6%.

Appeal history:

  • Launched on 22 January 2003 for CHF 820,000 (USD 650,120 or EUR 534,319) for 3 months to assist 30,000 beneficiaries.

  • The relief operation was extended to complete rehabilitation activities including repairs of community water supplies and school infrastructure. All activities were completed by July 2003.

  • Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 80,000 (reimbursed).

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: Cyclone Ami Appeal (03/03)


The Fiji Red Cross provided effective emergency relief during the first phase and is widely recognised as a leading humanitarian relief organisation. Less than six months after cyclone Ami struck Fiji, all rehabilitation activities proposed under this operation were completed successfully. A total of 23 rural communities benefited from restored or improved clean drinking water supplies, while students in 16 rural schools were able to resume normal classes. The Fiji Red Cross is now also increasingly seen as an effective and reliable partner for disaster rehabilitation, recovery and development programmes.

The replenishment of essential relief supplies and the further training of staff and volunteers at national and branch levels supported under this operation ensure that the Fiji Red Cross is again well prepared to deal with any future emergencies. Its successful operation following extensive floods that hit the country in early 2004 clearly demonstrated this.

The pre-positioning of disaster relief supplies and the training of local volunteers in basic disaster management provided an effective way of improving disaster response, reducing lead times, minimising the cost of procuring relief goods (or their replenishments after a disaster) and their transport.

However, rapid assessment of damage and needs as well as effective, efficient and appropriate response remain key challenges for all involved in disaster management in the Pacific region, especially in remote and isolated island communities where such disasters may occur. The Red Cross therefore also aims to step up its work with vulnerable communities on disaster risk reduction and mitigation throughout the Pacific.


The Fiji Red Cross and the Federation maintained close coordination with all key actors throughout the operation. During the first phase, regular contact with the national disaster management office, local disaster management committees as well as with key regional donors and other partners was maintained.

Some local food donations received by branches in the first days were distributed immediately, but the government then assumed responsibility for food distributions.

Red Cross activities in school repairs were closely coordinated with the Ministry of Education, which undertook an extensive rehabilitation programme using army engineers amongst others. Water and sanitation activities were coordinated with the Ministry of Health and the public works departments, as well as with the Ministry of Education.

Objectives, achievements, impact

The specific objective was to improve the situation of vulnerable people of Vanua Levu and Taveuni affected by tropical cyclone Ami by meeting their most elementary household requirements, restoring/improving access to drinking water in rural areas and repairing partially damaged schools. In addition, the capacity of the Fiji Red Cross to deal with future disasters will be enhanced through the replenishment of pre-positioned stocks, the formation of a core assessment team and the training of branches.

Emergency relief (food and basic non-food items)

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

The pre-positioning of disaster relief stock in strategic locations across the country enabled the Fiji Red Cross to carry out very a swift distribution of essential items such as 'black packs' and blankets in the first few days after the cyclone. The eighteen white shipping containers each contained so-called 'black packs' as well as other essential disaster relief items such as ropes, tarpaulins, gardening and construction tools, water containers, lamps, cooking sets and blankets. Most of these stocks were depleted during the emergency response. During the first few days of cyclone Ami alone, the Fiji Red Cross distributed a total of 1671 'black packs' and other items such as blankets and tarpaulins, as well as in-kind donations received from bilateral donors. The Fiji Red Cross had assisted over 60,000 people within ten days after the disaster.

The depleted stocks were replenished, greatly enhancing the Fiji Red Cross capacity to deal with any new emergencies in future. The following items were procured under this operation:

Table: Items procured for replenishing relief stocks
Black pack (family kit) See below for details pack
Blanket 1.5x2.0m, woven, 50% wool piece
Family tent 16 sqm, double fly with groundsheet piece
Tarpaulin Woven plastic sheeting 4x60m roll
Dispensary tent 27.5 sqm (5.5x5m) piece

The Fiji Red Cross Society's 'black packs' are an essential and well-received relief item. They contain items of clothing for a whole family, soap and towel, a blanket, mosquito repellent and a basic first aid kit. They are called 'black packs' as the entire contents are wrapped in a large four by six metre sheet of heavy duty plastic, inserted in a heavy duty clear plastic bag and bound with plastic ties. They are slightly smaller than a normal pillow and are soft but resilient allowing them to be dropped, if required, from an aircraft.

The following items were procured for the 'black packs':

Table: Items procured for assembly into 'black packs'
Men's shirts Large Piece 3000
Ladies' tops Assorted colours Piece 1500
Girl's clothing (2-5years) Skirt and top - small Set 6000
Girl's clothing Skirt and top Set 3000
Boy's clothing (2-5 years) Shorts and shirt - small Set 6000
Boy's clothing Shorts and shirt Set 3000
First aid kit Includes plaster, gauze, bandages Kit 3000
Towel 90x180cm Piece 6000
Lavalava Wrap around, cotton Piece 6000
Men's shorts Medium, large Piece 3000
Ladies' skirts Assorted sizes Piece 3000
Girl's skirt Size 10-15 years Piece 3000
Boy's shorts Size 10-15 years Piece 3000
Mosquito repellent Double rabbit brand coils Piece 3000
Soap 80 grams Bar 3000
Matches Packet of 12 boxes Packet 263
Camphor Packet of 64 pieces Packet 100
Plastic sheeting Black, for wrapping Sheets 3000

Water and sanitation

Objective: To provide 30,000 people with clean potable water for a period of maximum four weeks

The Fiji Red Cross distributed jerry cans and water purification tablets to ensure access to safe drinking water in the most affected areas during the first phase of the operation. It also provided a water purification unit for the supply of water to Labasa hospital. However, the public water supply in Labasa town was restored relatively quickly. In consultation with key donors it was therefore decided to focus water and sanitation activities for the second phase on the repair and rehabilitation of rural water supplies and sanitation infrastructure. Cyclone damage to village water supplies ranged from broken or washed away pipes, damage to tanks and tap stands, to contamination of catchment areas or traditional shallow wells.

The entire project area was surveyed to assess the extent of damage to rural water supply systems. Suitable projects were identified in consultation with the relevant local authorities. A detailed project design was carried out in close collaboration with local communities who also agreed to provide voluntary labour, which included the digging of trenches, clearing of debris, transport of materials, mixing of concrete, and support during construction.

Basic materials such as metal and plastic pipes, cement as well as tap stands were procured following open tenders and transported to project sites. Selected villagers received on-the-job training in basic repairs and maintenance and all villages were supplied with a standard basic tool kit.

All projects were completed successfully by the end of June 2003.

Table: Clean drinking water projects - rural water supply
Work undertaken in clean water projects
Completed system and built catchments, 5000 litre tank and pipe work.
Repaired catchments and pipe work, installed ten tap stands.
Completed system, built catchments, 40,000 litre tank and pipe system, installed 20 tap stands.
Nodogo secondary school
Completed new latrines for boys with five flushing toilets, connected urinal and one wash basin to septic tank.
Repaired catchments, cement tank and pipe system,
installed15 tap stands.
Repaired cement tank.
Urata including
Muanivatu school
Built one new catchment. Repaired one catchment and
pipe system, installed 26 tap stands.
Completed new system catchments, installed one 10,000 litre tank, pipe system (2.38 km of two inch pipes) and 16 tap stands.
Jerusalem Nabaci
Built new catchments, repaired pipe system, installed 35 tap stands.
300 plus
100 in school
Built new catchments, relocated pipe system, installed 30 tap stands.
Repaired pipe work and catchments to tank, relocated pipe to village and suspended it above mangrove and high tide, provided 15 tap stands.
Repaired catchments, repaired pipe work, installed 17 tap stands.
Repaired pipe work, installed 10,000 litre tank for night storage and 26 pipe stands.
Repaired tank and pipe work to village.
Repaired catchments, pipe work catchments to village and nine tap stands.
Qalitu district school
Replaced/repaired pipe work catchments to school, installed 2,700 litre tank.
Repaired pipe work in village, installed ten tap stands.
Nadogo primary school
Completed new latrine block built with two male flush toilets urinal, four female flush toilets, two hand washbasins and, septic tanks.
Built new catchments with 7.0 km of two inch pipes to existing tank, installed 20 tap stands.
Built new catchments, installed new pipe work, 5,000 litre tank and 14 tap stands.
Yaro village - Kia island
Provided submersible pump with generator for existing bore, built 30,000 litre cement tank with new pipe work from tank to village, installed ten tap stands.
Vunilagi school
Repaired/replaced pipe work catchments to tank.
Napuka secondary school
Repaired/replaced pipe work catchments to tank.

In addition to the projects carried out under this operation, the Fiji Red Cross secured bilateral funding from various donors to install water tanks in primary and secondary schools across the affected region.

Reconstruction and recovery

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

High winds caused extensive damage to the physical structure of the education sector in northern and eastern Fiji. According to the Ministry of Education, a total of 107 schools were affected. Damage ranged from small sections of roofing iron being blown away to whole classroom blocks being completely levelled to the ground. Following discussions it was agreed to focus on the repair of schools whose roofs were damaged or blown away entirely. This would allow students to resume classes as soon as possible, and life to get back to normal for parents, teachers and students alike.

A detailed survey was carried out to assess damage, and to identify suitable projects. The Ministry of Education undertook the construction of temporary classrooms with support form the army engineer corps, and initiated planning for subsequent permanent construction of new buildings for severely affected schools. As a result, a close coordination with the Ministry of Education was required to avoid potential overlaps and/or gaps. In order to speed up the process, it was then decided to sub-contract the repair work to local construction firms based on an open tendering procedure. All activities were completed by the end of June 2003.

Table: Details of school repair works carried out
Name of School
Details of Repair Work
Napuka junior
secondary school
Cakadrove Repaired roof of two buildings: hall roof plus ceiling panels,
workshop roof plus some timber.
Tunuloa Catholic
primary school
Cakadrove Installed new roof and new ceiling panels for one class of
a three classroom block.-
Kama district high
school at Tuavesi
Cakadrove Installed new roof, ceiling and front veranda for one class of a four-classroom concrete block.
Vatuvona seventh day
Adventists primary school.
Cakadrove School committee replaced lost roofing iron after six weeks.
Replaced water-damaged ceilings with new ceiling panels.
Navonu primary school Cakadrove Installed new roofing iron in front side and veranda for a two- classroom block.
Nakobo primary school Cakadrove Replaced damaged and rusty roof iron of one classroom. School committee replaced the classroom roof earlier after a large tree fell on it.
Nasinui primary school Cakadrove Repaired two buildings: rebuilt 1/3 of roof and veranda of boy's dormitory, repaired two classroom blocks. Installed new roof structure and ceilings
Saqani junior secondary
Cakadrove Installed new roof and cisterns in ablution block, roof and ceilings in science laboratory.
Vanuavou primary school Cakadrove Repaired roofing (iron and some timber) at front part of classroom, restored ceilings and veranda.
Vaturova junior high and Vunisalusalu school Cakadrove Installed new roofs for three ablution blocks (both schools on same site).
Waiqele secondary school Macuata Repaired one side of a large two-storied concrete ten-classroom block with iron, timber and a new veranda. Also installed new ceiling.
Naduri district school Macuata Installed new roofing iron to front of one classroom and veranda.
Uliban district school Macuata Installed new roofing iron, timber work and ceiling over long veranda and small classroom.
Vunisalusalu Cakadrove Completed replacement of male ablution block (four pans and one urinal)
Wainkele Taveuni Replaced roof and veranda on two classroom blocks.
Navakawen Taveuni Erected two 1000 litre water tanks and gutterings or down pipes.

National Society Capacity Building

The Fiji Red Cross Labasa branch building underwent small office repairs and some basic equipment (computer, fax etc.) installation to facilitate the operation. One vehicle made available to the Savusavu branch further supported the relief operation, and a small high frequency radio network consisting of three base stations and mobile units was installed to facilitate more reliable communication during any future disasters.

Two training workshops carried out at branch level in Labasa and Savusavu respectively captured lessons learnt from the first phase of the operation and provided input for future training and capacity building initiatives. Both branches produced a detailed timeline of the disaster and the local Red Cross response, which served as a basis for analysing strengths and weaknesses.

A follow-up training workshop attended by staff from the headquarters as well as branch staff and volunteers was then organised at the national level. This workshop focused on basic emergency management procedures, including assessment and relief distribution procedures, with review and revision of standard operating procedures of the Fiji Red Cross.

Fiji Red Cross staff and volunteers also engaged in additional training, and follow-up training for branch staff and volunteers now takes place on a regular basis with two further workshops already scheduled.

The programme leader of the operation attended two separate meetings of the Red Cross' emergency management core group for the Pacific. Aimed at strengthening the overall Red Cross emergency response in the region, these meetings provided an excellent opportunity for further learning as well as wider sharing of experiences.

Training is continuing as part of a wider capacity building approach, with a further two additional workshops using separate funding scheduled. A few people have already benefited from more advanced disaster management training both within Fiji and elsewhere. One branch board member attended a regional disaster management training course held by the Federation in Seoul, Korea and subsequently participated in the field assessment and coordination team (FACT) course hosted by the Australian Red Cross in Melbourne in 2004.

Federation Delegation

During the first phase of the operation an information delegate on loan from the New Zealand Red Cross supported the initial information and assessment efforts for one week. The Australian Red Cross also provided a relief delegate to support the Fiji Red Cross in the distribution of in-kind relief items donated bilaterally by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

For the second recovery phase two delegates, a relief delegate provided by New Zealand Red Cross and two water and sanitation delegates provided by the Australian Red Cross, joined the regional delegation to provide technical support to the ongoing operation.

Advocacy/Public Information

The Fiji Red Cross maintained a high profile throughout the period and was generally seen as the leading humanitarian organisation in providing response to the cyclone. The local media featured it regularly and the Fiji Red Cross further produced its own full colour reports on the first phase. A number of donor visits took place during the operation, which provided good opportunities for further enhancement of awareness and visibility.

Assessment, and lessons learned

The absence of readily available reliable assessment data meant much time was spent on carrying out detailed surveys across a large area with at times difficult access during the first weeks. All data received from other sources - for instance regarding impact on schools and village water supplies - had to be verified, and was often found inaccurate or out of date.

The initial identification and detailed surveying of suitable school repair projects especially took up more time than anticipated. In addition, extensive consultation with the Ministry of Education was required as many schools were listed as qualifying for rehabilitation under government support. Nevertheless, the project was completed on time by sub-contracting it to several local construction firms that worked concurrently.

A number of items were either not available within Fiji at all (e.g. family tents, dispensary tents), in insufficient quantities (blankets) or were prohibitively expensive (tarpaulins). It was decided to procure these items through the Panama-based regional logistic unit of the Federation and were sourced from suppliers in India and Panama.

Water projects completed by July 2003 subsequently re-visited by the water and sanitation delegate in June 2004 provided a unique opportunity to carry out a basic ex-post survey. In all the villages visited the water supplies were in full operation, and in most cases the local community was assured that there was adequate protection of the water source and maintenance of the system. In two villages further measures were taken to ensure protection of the spring and its water quality, such as increasing the distance from the source where animals were allowed to graze and limiting the cutting of trees in the immediate vicinity.

Special consideration to ensure decisions on whom and where to support was seen as fair, balanced and transparent was necessary given the pronounced ethnic divide within Fiji. Basing itself on the Red Cross Fundamental Principles of humanity and impartiality, the Fiji Red Cross carried out its work effectively and was widely praised for its efforts.

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

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

- In Fiji: Ms. Alison Cupit, director general, Fiji Red Cross Society, email: or, phone: +67 9 331 4133, fax: +67 9 330 3818

- In Fiji: Mr. Leon Prop, head of regional delegation, Pacific regional delegation, Suva, email:, phone +67 9 3311855, fax +67 9 3311406

- In Geneva: Asia Pacific department, Ms. Eun-Hee Cho, Pacific regional officer, email:, phone +41 22 7304392, fax +41 22 7330395

For longer-term programmes, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal.

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at

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