Episcopal Relief & Development, in coordination with the Anglican Missions Board-New Zealand and other partners, is supporting the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia to provide emergency relief to 500 families in Fiji who were impacted by Tropical Cyclone Yasa in December 2020.
Tropical Cyclone Yasa made landfall in Fiji as a Category 5 storm, bringing sustained winds of 240 km/h and gusts as high as 345 km/h. The cyclone led to significant flooding and the destruction of homes, schools, infrastructure and crops. Over 23,000 people found shelter in emergency evacuation centers, such as Anglican church halls. Cyclone Yasa was followed by several other storms deepening the impact.
The Diocese of Polynesia is building on its well-established relationship with the government of Fiji and connections within local communities in order to respond to needs created by the storm. The diocese is a highly regarded disaster response partner of Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO). Over the course of 2020, diocesan staff collaborated with the NDMO to disseminate health and safety information regarding the COVID-19 virus to underserved populations across Fiji, while supporting vulnerable communities through a range of services.
The integrated emergency response to Tropical Cyclone Yasa, supported by Episcopal Relief & Development and in coordination with the local government, is directly addressing the urgent need for food to support families who lost crops and income in the storm. Local churches are distributing food parcels to these people for the next three months. Additionally, the diocese is providing improved access to clean water for drinking water and crops by restoring existing wells and irrigation systems. Staff and volunteers are also rebuilding communal gardens and trained counselors are offering counseling, both individually and in small group settings, to help communities long-term. All emergency response activities are being conducted with physical distancing and personal protective equipment such as face masks to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.
“The Anglican Diocese of Polynesia is experienced in responding to disasters in a way that supports both immediate and long-term needs,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Senior Program Officer, Disaster Risk Reduction, Episcopal Relief & Development. “Their expertise and extensive local networks are allowing them to swiftly address the most urgent needs created by the storms.”
Please continue to pray for individuals and families affected by Tropical Cyclone Yasa and other storms. Learn more about Episcopal Relief & Development’s work with partners to increase disaster resilience here.
For 80 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.