COVID-19 in disaster risk plan

Nacula Village in Yasawa is one of three villages in the West where the COVID-19 pandemic has been included in the disaster risk reduction plans. Picture: REPEKA NASIKO

The COVID-19 pandemic has been included in the disaster risk reduction (DRR) plans of three rural communities in the West.

The three villages – Nacula in Yasawa, Nailaga in Ba and Tavualevu in Tavua – established response plans for future virus outbreaks in collaboration with WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) Pacific.

The plans were constructed in recognition of the adverse impact COVID-19 has had on their community.

WWF Pacific project officer Apolosa Robaigau said the review on the DRR plans for each community was necessary after the global pandemic exposed areas which needed improvement.

“COVID really showed us that vulnerable communities didn’t have a strategic plan to deal with what would happen if borders closed, jobs were lost and people would fall sick en masse,” he said.

“So, with the review, we worked with each community to come up with a reviewed DRR plan that included a pandemic response which should also be considered a disaster because of its massive impact on all aspects of the community.

“We worked on how they could resort to old practices they could implement if they ever experienced another lockdown or containment situation.”

He said the review also encouraged each community to have financial and food reserves.

Nacula district spokeswoman Lavenia Naivalu said they were grateful to the WWF Pacific for their continued support for vulnerable communities and for assisting them adapt to global changes.

“There is a lot to learn from COVID-19 in terms of our response plans,” she said.

“From the review, we were able to relook at certain practices that have been long forgotten, like having food reserves.

“We are also looking at setting up a herbal medicine nursery that could help villagers.

“So, we are reverting to our traditional knowledge to help us adapt or respond to something like a pandemic.”

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