CIVIL society organisations (CSO) play a pivotal role in ascertaining the immediate and mid to long-term needs of those affected in the west by Cyclone Evan, and aid donors like AusAID are working with these organisations to ensure these needs are met.
AusAID's Development Co-operation first secretary Timothy Gill said while the Fiji government had conducted assessments through their line ministries on a national level, CSOs were better placed to prioritise and assist the neediest in rural communities.
"The CSOs working at the grassroots are able to provide a deeper level of detail in the communities they know well, so they can sometimes pick up needs that may be missed through the national assessment process.
"That complements the findings of the various formal clusters, so we are encouraging our CSO partners to co-ordinate their work as much as possible with the efforts of the interim government and multilateral agencies."
Mr Gill said the establishment of AusAID's Fiji Community Development Program offices in Lautoka and Labasa had facilitated the immediate roll-out of assistance in the immediate aftermath of TC Evan.
"We have a constant presence on the ground, so we can hear about the needs directly from our CSO partners. AusAID also sent its own officials into the field who have met with government and CSOs and visited affected communities all the way around Viti Levu as well as around Labasa."
More than $600,000 has been provided through AusAID to cyclone-affected communities channelled through CSOs such as Save the Children Fiji, Saraswati Development Unit, Northern Charity Alliance, Sevashram Sangha, Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development, Empower Pacific, People's Community Network and Rotary.