Program aims to raise quality, durability of rural housing

Northern Division divisional planning officer Uraia Rainima, middle, with participants at the Rural Carpentery Training. Picture: SUPPLIED

IN a bid to address the demand for carpenters outside urban areas, 30 participants from northern Macuata in Vanua Levu yesterday completed a two-week ‘build back better’ rural carpentry training course.

The Rural Carpenters Training Program is funded by the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development, Disaster Management, and Meteorological Services and is being implemented by the Ministry’s Rural Housing Unit.

Aimed at equipping rural dwellers with skills and techniques to construct quality and durable homes, the training is part of a series of rural carpenters training being conducted within Government’s current financial year across all four major divisions at a cost of $231,000.

According to the divisional planning officer at the Office of the Commissioner Northern Uraia Rainima, Government’s intent was to raise the ability of homes to withstand extreme weather events.

Speaking in the iTaukei language,  Mr Rainima told participants that damage statistics collected after Tropical Cyclone Winston indicated that most of the houses damaged by cyclonic winds were located in rural areas and that the carpentry training program was an initiative to reduce damage risks to property and loss of lives.

“Many of the participants have had some experience in construction, this training is meant to cement techniques and skills that will encourage ‘build back better’ techniques,” Mr Rainima said.

Build back better in principle refers to the incorporation of disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of physical infrastructure, social systems, the environment and the economy after a disaster.

“In this particular case, we’ve incorporated disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of dwelling places, teaching participants simple tips such as strappings along joints, bracings for the roofing structure, or extra nailing for cyclone proof purposes,” said rural housing program manager, Joji Waqamailau.
“In this way, we’re not only training carpenters to raise standards of dwelling places, but we’re mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into our development initiatives”, Mr. Waqamailau said.

The training was facilitated by the Fiji National University which also included participants from villages within the Tikina (District) of Namuka, who applauded government’s rural carpenters training program.