FIJI is now globally ranked 15th among countries most at risk to environmental disasters.
And the response effort in the aftermath of natural disasters must address critical issues immediately to be effective in bringing relief to those affected.
This was revealed by Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) acting counsellor Tim Gill at a Fiji Community Development Program (FCDP) round table assessment of Tropical Cyclone Evan relief efforts. "Poverty and disaster affect people's lives and are more than just sad stories," Mr Gill said.
"Good development practice is not just about having systems in place but as practitioners we should be investing in development programs that consider the multi-facet nature that natural hazards have on the lives of people and communities.
"While Tropical Cyclone Evan showed us the extent of desperation felt by people, it also demonstrated the huge resilience of Fiji's people and communities. This is something we need to harness and ensure we are investing in disaster risk reduction before a disaster event occurs."
Mr Gill said FCDP's funding of civil society organisations (CSOs) had proven to be a very effective way of meting out immediate aid to the most affected.
"CSOs responded so rapidly and AusAID, through the Fiji Community Development Program, mobilised funds immediately to provide people with food, shelter and water.
"This rapid collaboration was a good sign that the FCDP was able to promote a culture of sharing and collaboration among CSOs and other stakeholders."
AusAID through the FCDP provided $600,000 worth of immediate humanitarian assistance to more than 20,000 people around Fiji in the wake of TC Evan.
The aid was distributed through CSOs and included the provision of food, shelter and psycho-social support through trauma counselling.