Fiji - Cyclone Ami OCHA Situation Report No. 4

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2003/0028
OCHA Situation Report No. 4
Fiji - Tropical Cyclone AMI
occurred: 14 January 2003


This situation report is based on information provided by the Fiji National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), through the OCHA Regional Disaster Response Adviser for the Pacific.

Summary of Damage and Losses

1. The total damage to housing across Northern and Eastern Divisions is summarised in the table below. One community (Korosi, near Savusavu) is considering relocating its entire village to a safer area.

Province (yasana)
District (tikina)
Houses damaged
Estimated cost (USD)
Houses destroyed
Estimated cost (USD)
Total cost (USD)
across all
$ 1,165,000
$ 1,942,000
$ 3,107,000
$ 635,000
$ 1,198,000
$ 1,833,000
$ 202,000
$ 387,000
$ 589,000
across all
$ 39,000
$ 58,000
$ 97,000
Subtotal for Northern Division
$ 2,041,000
$ 3,585,000
$ 5,626,000
across all
$ 245,000
$ 813,000
$ 1,058,000
across all
$ 28,000
$ 5,000
$ 33,000
Subtotal for Eastern Division
$ 273,000
$ 818,000
$ 1,091,000
$ 2,314,000
$ 4,403,000
$ 6,717,000

2. A total of 70 classrooms are destroyed, plus 51 teacher's quarters across Northern and Eastern Divisions. A further 44 have sustained between FJD 11,000-100,000 worth of damage, and 46 schools have sustained minor damage, below FJD 10,000. The damage to all school building stock is estimated at USD 1,511,000; USD 107,000 for scientific and office equipment; USD 110,000 for teaching materials; USD 61,000 for furniture; a grand total of USD 1,789,000. The Ministry of Education's highest priority for reconstruction are schools that have been worst affected:

Province (yasana) School type
Classrms destroyed
Estimated cost (USD)
Quarters destroyed
Estimated cost (USD)
Total cost (USD)
$ 456,000
$ 77,000
$ 533,000
$ 60,000
$ 0
$ 60,000
$ 132,000
$ 86,000
$ 218,000
$ 84,000
$ 41,000
$ 125,000
Subtotal for Northern Division
$ 732,000
$ 204,000
$ 936,000
$ 108,000
$ 56,000
$ 164,000
$ 840,000
$ 260,000
$ 1,100,000

3. Health facilities fared better than schools, and only one rural nursing station valued at FJD 200,000 (USD 97,000) was completely destroyed, in Cakaudrove. Others across Northern and Eastern Divisions sustained minor damage, which can be repaired from within existing resources.

4. Infrastructure including roads, bridges, culverts, seawalls, and jetties estimated at USD 1,600,000, have been damaged across both divisions. Electricity is now fully restored in Labasa Town but some surrounding areas are not yet reconnected. Telecommunications is in a worse state. Over 2,000 telephone lines in urban areas require repair and a number of isolated inland communities in Vanua Levu and small islands in the Lau Group, still have no means of contact with the outside world due to damaged antennae and broken power lines. Technicians are working to repair equipment at Drekeniwai, Ravula Hill (Savusavu), Nabekavu, Wainikoro, and a number of locations in Taveuni.

5. Agriculture was worst affected across Macuata and Cakaudrove Provinces; and in Cicia and Vanuavatu in the Lau Group. In terms of subsistence agriculture, tree crops fared worse than vegetables, and in some places all fruit such as banana, breadfruit, and papaya have been wiped out. The cash crops of sugar cane, particularly in Macuata, and coconuts which are processed for copra in Cakaudrove and the islands, have also been very hard hit. This will impact heavily on rural incomes; in the cane producing areas for at least one year and for the copra producers over the next 4-5 years. The loss of income will make it harder for families to obtain essential healthcare, to send their children to school, to purchase consumables such as fuel for outboard motors and capital items such as hardware, and to maintain their general standard of living.

6. The confirmed death toll is 15, with 3 people still missing.

Ongoing Emergency Response

7. Almost all areas on Vanua Levu have now been reached by the authorities; debris has been cleared from the main roads, assessment conducted and some relief delivered, except for 3 remote villages in the interior of Cakaudrove Province, which cannot be accessed by road. The Government has asked the UN to support the delivery of one month's rations to the 150 inhabitants of these villages by helicopter, using the grant from OCHA and the Government of Norway.

8. All affected areas in the Lau Group have now received a food ration sufficient for 1-4 weeks, except for a few communities on Lakeba and Vanuabalavu Islands, which will be visited shortly. In most cases the beneficiaries will treat the ration as a supplement to their surviving crops and existing food stocks, and so the food relief could be expected to last for twice as long as the ration is intended to cover. Food security and the rate of agricultural recovery will be assessed again in a month, and at this time another food ration may be supplied to the most needy areas. The amount will be dictated by the progress of the agricultural rehabilitation programme to be set up. In any case it is not envisaged to continue food relief delivery to any community for more than 3 months.

9. In terms of non-food relief, the Government, Fiji Red Cross, and donors have provided over 7,000 tarpaulins and over 8,000 x 20 litre water containers. The majority of this assistance has been distributed in Northern Division. At this stage it is not possible to guarantee that all emergency relief needs in all areas have been satisfied, but it is probable that they have been substantially met.

10. Medical teams from the Ministry of Health, Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), and the Red Cross are working across Macuata and Cakaudrove in Vanua Levu, providing treatment and dispensing medicines, as well as monitoring the overall health status of the affected population.

11. The estimated cost of relief supplies provided by the Government for the emergency relief operation, as at 27 January, is as follows:

  • Food relief - USD 203,000
  • Emergency healthcare - USD 64,000
  • Temporary water supply - USD 21,000
  • Temporary shelter materials - USD 21,000
  • Disaster response coordination - USD 13,000
  • TOTAL: USD 322,000
Rehabilitation and Recovery

12. The Government is aware that line ministries will engage directly with their normal donor partners, but it also wishes to ensure that the recovery process is coordinated across all relevant government departments and other actors. The Ministry of Regional Development has already submitted a consolidated multi-sectoral report on the planned programme to Cabinet, which should help to prioritise across the sectors as well as within them. The Ministry is now working on the practical implementation arrangements with respective agencies, including the RFMF. Within 6 months the Ministry will conduct a review and evaluation of the rehabilitation programme.

13. The Ministry of Regional Development is also directly responsible for addressing the housing losses, by expanding its existing rural housing assistance programme. In the aftermath of the cyclone the Government has established 15 teams each of 10 craftsman to construct new houses to replace those lost, for about FJD 10,600 (USD 5,150) each. The benefits of this approach are that recovery in this sector will be quicker, there will be significant economies of scale and cost-saving opportunities, and that the houses will be built to a minimum standard and hence will be more resistant to future cyclones. All materials including roofing iron are produced locally, so it will also help to restore the economy. Even so, the whole reconstruction effort is expected to take a year. To pay for it, the Ministry of Regional Development will be forced to divert over half of its 2003 budget from its 5 other capital funds to meet this urgent need. This will impact upon rural development across the whole country.

14. Restoration of the education sector has been accorded the highest priority, as the school year was due to start earlier this week, and could not do so in Macuata and Cakaudrove Provinces. Relatively undamaged schools in these areas are now scheduled to open next week. Currently the Ministry of Education is planning to use its own limited funds to get as many schools as possible ready to open within 3 weeks of the cyclone. As a temporary measure, class numbers will be increased in neighbouring schools to accommodate pupils whose schools are too damaged to open.

15. As in housing, the major repair and reconstruction work to schools will be carried out by trained craftsmen using proper materials and approved designs; the Fiji Military Forces engineer battalion in Northern Division, and the teams from Regional Development in Eastern Division where fewer buildings were destroyed. It is estimated that each new classroom will take two weeks to build at a cost of FJD 25,000 (USD 12,000), following designs similar to those for the new rural homes, and the new school buildings erected under this project should be expected to last at least 5 years.

16. The senior medical officer in Labasa has estimated that infrastructure repairs and re-equipping health facilities in the Northern Division will cost about FJD 1 million (USD 485,000).

17. Aside from the urban water mains system in Labasa, a number of simple community water supply systems in rural areas on Vanua Levu and across the Lau Group were damaged and must be repaired or replaced. The Government is also concerned to mitigate the impact of future droughts, particularly on the small islands, and so is planning to establish more household water tanks and guttering or other supply systems, under the overall cyclone recovery programme. All new schools and teachers' quarters will be provided with a number of 23,000 litre water tanks.

International Assistance

18. The FRANZ group of donor representatives continue to meet on a regular basis, however they do not envisage bringing in any more relief items. Any uncommitted emergency funding from international donors is likely to be directed towards the logistic costs of the ongoing relief operation, and to restocking essential items such as medical supplies and relief materials in case of future need.

19. As the relief operation draws down, Fiji's main development partners are now considering the longer-term assistance needed to help the country recover. The Government of Fiji has made it clear that it wants line ministries and national agencies to take a coordinated approach to rehabilitation efforts. It therefore hopes that there can be sufficient flexibility between agencies and their donor partners to ensure that the priority needs are met first, and that there are no gaps in critical areas.

20. The appeal by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for CHF 820,000 (USD 552,000), to be implemented by the Fiji Red Cross, is likely to be directed towards the provision of safe water and sanitation across a wide part of Northern Division, and at the emergency rehabilitation of damaged schools.

21. A general coordinator from the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) is currently visiting Fiji to assess the possibility of support for ongoing relief and emergency rehabilitation.

22. The following international assistance has been provided or offered to date:

Country/organisation Description of assistance
Value in USD
Hire of helicopter for assessment and relief deliveries
Hire of 2 water purification units for Eastern Division
not costed
Hire of office equipment for NEOC
not costed
Hire (for 6 days) of vessel to Southern Lau Islands
not costed
303,264 water purification tablets through Fiji Red Cross
Relief assistance through Fiji Red Cross
Contribution to national radio appeal
20 litre water containers: 6,840 (airlifted from Sydney)
Tarpaulins: 1,200 (6.15 x 5.5 m) plus 2,050 (3.6 x 3.6 m) and 30 km of 4 mm rope (all airlifted from Sydney)
Cotton blankets: 3,250 (airlifted from Sydney)
not costed
Australian Red Cross official to assist aid coordination
not costed
Restock medical supplies used in Northern / Eastern Divs
still TBC
Restock Fiji Red Cross disaster preparedness containers
still TBC
Financial support to families in Northern for schooling
still TBC
Cash to Government for relief through embassy
Pledged to Government for relief / rehabilitation
Cook Islands
Cash to Government for relief / rehabilitation
Aircraft with 300 tarpaulins, 150 blankets, 50 water containers, 5,000 puritabs, plus 2 flights to Labasa
not costed
Naval patrol vessel for delivery run to Cicia Island in Lau
not costed
Hardware, 100 tarps, rope & food relief locally purchased
Offering medium-term school / health centre rehabilitation
still TBC
New Zealand
Provision of Orion aircraft for aerial reconnaissance
not costed
Contribution to Prime Minister's Appeal
Aircraft with 1,000 water containers & 600 tarpaulins
not costed
New Zealand Red Cross official to assist assessment
not costed
Available to purchase additional relief or logistic support
14 x 2,000 litre water tanks for the Lau Group
still TBC
Norway through OCHA
Through NDMO for food delivery to villages in Macuata
United Kingdom
Relief assistance through Fiji Red Cross
Contribution to Prime Minister's Appeal
United States of America
Cash to Fiji Red Cross for water purification equipment
European Union
Possible support to relief / emergency rehabilitation
still TBC
International Federation
Relief assistance through Fiji Red Cross
5 x primary healthcare kits (medical equipment / supplies)
Financial assistance to Ministry of Health
Other technical assistance and medical supplies
still TBC
OCHA Grant
Through NDMO to purchase 596 tarpaulins / 30 km rope
Pacific Islands Forum
Regional Natural Disaster Relief Fund - emergency grant
Post-disaster impact assessment to reduce vulnerability
not costed

Outstanding Concerns

23. Despite the major relief effort that has now lasted over 2 weeks, there are still some outstanding relief requirements in Northern Division, particularly for potable water. Although mains water in Labasa has been restored and bulk chlorination is occurring, the public is still being advised to boil it for 15 minutes before consumption. Outside of town the situation is more serious, with 47 community water supply systems reportedly still out of action. A New Zealand Red Cross expert assisting the Fiji Red Cross in Macuata has identified this as a critical issue that requires close monitoring. Water and sanitation specialists from the Red Cross and Oxfam in Australia have indicated their availability to deploy at short notice if needed.

24. At present there are no epidemic outbreaks, and the health service is able to cope with the ongoing situation, although it will need support to restock and restore damaged facilities. There are concerns over the breakdown of the sanitation system and the increased potential for water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid, and vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever and leptospirosis. Some cases of diarrhoea and vomiting have now been reported, and the hospital in Labasa is treating 3-4 suspected leptospirosis cases each week. It is unable to conduct full diagnosis whilst the power supply in town is still unreliable. The incidence of these diseases may be increasing since the cyclone, and greater efforts are needed to control the mosquito and rat populations.

25. In terms of preparedness for another major cyclone in this or future seasons, the Fiji Red Cross Society has started to restock its disaster relief containers. The Government is also considering the possibility of setting up small caches of non-food relief items in suitable locations to be controlled by the Divisional and District Authorities, and is looking at reinforcing and duplicating its means of communication to vulnerable rural areas.

General Information

26. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance, in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations in the United Nations system. For banking details please contact the Desk Officers indicated below. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.

27. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated below, on relief missions/pledges/contributions and their corresponding values by item.

28. The OCHA Regional Disaster Response Adviser conducted a field assessment to Cicia Island in the Lau Group on Sunday 26 January, travelling with relief supplies donated by the Governments of France and New Zealand on French Naval patrol boat "La Moquese". He continues to work closely with the NDMO staff, key donors, and representatives of the national and international Red Cross. He will revert with further information as it becomes available.

29. This situation report, together with information on other ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only:Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:
Mr. R. M=FCller / Mr. S. Nakajima
Direct Tel. +41-22-917 31 31 / 40 34

Press contact:
(in GVA) - Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(in N.Y.) - Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-212-963 87 40

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