Tropical Cyclone Winston: Food security and livelihoods recovery needs assessment - November 2016

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In August 2016, a collaborative decision by members of the Fiji FSL Cluster resulted in the establishment of the FSL Technical Working Group and the development of a multi-agency recovery needs assessment for TC Winston impacted areas (for the four major Divisions) for the purposes of:

  1. provide evidence based analysis of recovery needs in the food security and livelihoods sector

  2. identifying specific groups and/or communities that are/maybe particularly vulnerable

  3. provide key recommendations on appropriate food security and livelihoods interventions to boost recovery amongst affected communities and to reduce future risks

Executive Summary

Tropical Cyclone Winston (TCW) struck Fiji on 20 February 2016. The cyclone, the strongest to ever hit Fiji, was estimated to affect more than 540,000 people and created losses of up to USD 1.38 billion.† A host of national and international actors provided significant support to affected populations in all sectors.

In October 2016, the Fiji Food Security and Livelihoods Cluster and the Ministry o Agriculture conducted an assessment to identify the recovery needs in the food security and livelihoods sector, prioritize geographic areas for assistance, and recommend appropriate interventions to boost recovery amongst affected communities and reduce future risks.

A series of three divisional workshops was conducted in the Northern, Western, and Central/Eastern divisions. Workshop participants included representatives from local Government authorities, MoA extension workers, and development partners. The FSL assessment developed a holistic categorization of tikinas affected by TCW by assessing food security, livelihoods and vulnerability to climate change across a broad range of relevant indicators.

Food Security and Livelihoods

The food security situation of a region or household can be assessed along a set of underlying factors or determinants: availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability. The findings from the FSL assessment indicate that the tikinas where food security and livelihoods were most impacted by TCW include Koro, Sawakasa, and Nasavusavu. Perhaps unsurprisingly, crop production was reported to have been most impacted in the islands of Ovalau, Koro, Mualevu, and Lomaloma.

With respect to livelihoods, the FSL found that subsistence farming, microbusinesses and fishing were most affected by TCW. In contrast, private sector workers and those dependent on remittances were least likely to have been impacted by the cyclone.

Vulnerability to Climate Change

The approach used to assess vulnerability was developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and adapted by the FSL assessment to score tikinas according to their vulnerability to climate change and future disasters.

The methodology combines the three elements underlying vulnerability: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.

The findings from the FSL assessment indicate that the tikinas most vulnerable to climate change and natural hazards include Wainikoroiluva, Nalawa, Rakiraki, Nakorotubu, and Saivou.

Among the main factors increasing communities’ exposure to hazards are rivers which have become shallower due to soil runoff and erosion, making them more likely to flood with just one day of moderate rain (whereas in the past flooding required several days of hard rain). Of the most sensitive tikinas (all found in Ra province) the systems most commonly identified as sensitive were 1) roads and bridges during flooding; 2) rural water supply; and 3) threats to native forests and pine plantations.

Finally, the FSL assessment highlighted those tikinas with low adaptive capacity--Wainimala and Dogotuki; these communities (and those like them) are far from urban centers and have low access to information and markets, leaving them with few resources to recover after a disaster and limited capacity to prepare for them in advance.

Recommendations and Priority Areas for Assistance

Based on the findings described in this report, a set of short– and medium term recommendations were developed (see page 11) that aim to provide guidance to Government and development partners as they devise strategies for supporting the food security and livelihoods of communities affected by Tropical Cyclone Winston. The tikinas which were identified as being most suitable for such interventions (i.e. combined FSL and Vulnerability Ranking) were Koro, Nalawa, Rakiraki, Saivou, and Nakorotubu.