Fiji/Pacific: Tropical Cyclone Yasa/Ana - DREF Final Report (MDRFJ005)



Description of the disaster

Tropical Cyclone (TC) Yasa made landfall on 17 December 2020 as a Category 5 cyclone, causing extensive damage across Vanua Levu, with estimates of 97,000 people affected. It was the most destructive cyclone since TC Winston in 2016. Just over a month later, on 30 January 2021, TC Ana made landfall as a Category 2 cyclone across Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, heavily damaging crops, weakening house structures and causing power failures. Significant flooding, accompanied by extremely high seas and storm surges, caused coastal inundation. A day later, on 31 January 2021, TC Bina emerged and brought more rain. The accumulated rainfall from all three tropical cyclones caused extensive flooding across all four divisions and left urgent needs in shelter, health, WASH, and livelihoods; specifically, access to clean water and the risk of leptospirosis, typhoid, dengue, and diarrhoea (LTDD). The worst impacted communities were in Macuata and Cakaudrove, which were still recovering from TC Yasa. A total of 14,755 evacuees in 422 evacuation centres were supported as part of the early warning and response. Click here to see affected areas from TC Yasa and TC Ana pathways across Viti Levu. Access in the Northern division was initially a challenge during the response period due to severely damaged roads, continuous cyclones, flooding, and poor weather. Access was further restricted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

During this operation, significant challenges were faced due to the widespread community transmission of COVID-19, which started in mid-April 2021. A total of 52,009 COVID-19 cases and 673 deaths were recorded between April and October, although it is assumed numbers were much higher due to lack of testing. During this time, the Fiji government put in place significant restrictions, with movement restrictions across several containment zones throughout the main island of Viti Levu and stopping all inter-island travel, including to key cyclone-affected areas in Vanua Levu. International flights and most domestic flight routes in Fiji were suspended, alongside domestic shipping (apart from essential supplies) and ferries between islands. Between April and August, there was a curfew between six p.m. and four a.m., and less stringent curfews have continued since that time. The restrictions put in place by the Fiji Government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus meant that the Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) TC Yasa/Ana operation was effectively suspended from mid-April until mid-September. There was no ability to move personnel or logistics from the main island of Viti Levu to the operational areas on Vanua Levu, which were the most affected by TC Yasa and TC Ana. This significantly delayed completion of critical activities for the FRCS TC Yasa/Ana operation. However, following coordination and protracted negotiation with the NDMO and MHMS, FRCS finally gained an exemption to travel across containment zones in September, enabling the deployment of a team to relaunch remaining activities (WASH, LTDD, CVA) whilst following stringent COVID-19 protocols. These activities were still needed as the economic and health situation deteriorated over the past year, compounded by the elevated hygiene risks from COVID-19 and the upcoming cyclone season.

Significant supply chain issues were also faced in Fiji, as in other parts of the world – impacting the ability of FRCS to access critical WASH materials (cement, guttering, wiring) stuck at the border. The procurement, pre-positioning and distribution of shelter support kits was also delayed due to the inability to procure all items on time.