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Good sanitation units

Monday, February 20, 2017

RECENT events have made Talei Kataiwai very excited.

A big truck came off the Lomaiviti Princess 3 roll-on roll-off ferry and headed for her home at Naqaidamu Village, some 20 kilometres from the island wharf.

It brought timber, roofing irons and window frames for their new house.

"Cyclone Winston was frightening because it took away our family home," says Talei, who is 12 and lives with her parents and her siblings at Naqaidamu.

"Living in the tent was exciting at first but I can't wait to move into our new house, with my own bed under a new and dry roof."

Talei's family is a beneficiary of the Fijian Government's Help for Home initiative where those that lost their homes during Tropical Cyclone Winston qualified for a $7000 worth of housing materials.

Their new home will nicely compliment the new toilet cubicle that was constructed shortly after TC Winston hit.

"Talei may be too young to understand, but that kind gesture to provide good sanitation units is literally life saving for us on Koro, and perhaps for other people in Fiji who were badly affected by the Category 5 cyclone," explains Maraia Qaqa.

She is the volunteer village nurse in Naqaidamu.

"I just can't imagine what would have happened had NGOs like Oxfam were not here to replace damaged toilets. Although no lives were lost in Naqaidamu during TC Winston, who knows how many more lives we might have lost had there been a big disease outbreak."

Oxfam in Fiji's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) response focused on Koro Island where the devastation caused by TC Winston was at its worst.

Funding support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to the amount of F$230,000 helped with the construction of toilet facilities and support for water systems.

In total, 140 toilets would have been built across 14 villages on the island by the end of this month, and an additional ten 5300 litre capacity water tanks were delivered to selected communities on the island to supplement their current water supply systems.

This package of DFAT assistance was part of the Government of Australia's assistance in cyclone rehabilitation and recovery works in Fiji.

In addition, Australia deployed its 27,500 tonne amphibious assault ship, the HMAS Canberra to coordinate Australian assistance in Fiji, and it spent most of its time in the Koro Sea, next to the island of the same name.

"Listening to stories like Talei's shows that recovery and restoration work after TC Winston are well on its way," says Mr Jovesa Saladoka, country director of Oxfam in Fiji.

"I know there are many more stories coming out of regions that bore the brunt of the cyclone, and it is such stories of hope and resilience that motivates agencies like Oxfam to keep going."

Mr Saladoka said WASH was one of Oxfam Fiji's four pronged response to the devastation caused by TC Winston.

Through a donor collective, the NGO also pursued an emergency food security and vulnerable livelihoods program, as well as an inclusive recovery program where the special interests and concerns of women and the disabled were identified and protected.

Oxfam in Fiji also took on the role of being the international NGO focal point for humanitarian responses.

With the one year anniversary of TC Winston, Oxfam in Fiji estimates that its cyclone recovery works had reached over 18,700 men, women and children in more than 122 communities comprising villages and settlements within the five provinces.

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