Project to improve evacuation centres

GIS offi cers for CAN DO Fiji, Field Ready and the NDMO conduct mapping at an evacuation site in Nadi. Picture: SUPPLIED

Field Ready and the Church Agencies Network Operations (CAN DO) Fiji are working in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) to improve evacuation centres in Fiji through the Safe n Redi Project funded by the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP).

Working with selected church sites, the AHP partners conduct mapping and evacuation centre retrofitting. The focus of the retrofitting is disability access.

“In many cases, churches act as evacuation centres during disasters,” CAN DO GIS co-ordinator Katherine Madigibuli said.

“The collected information is shared with CAN DO partners to allow centres to be changed to become user friendly to people living with disabilities. Through our Safe n Redi app, information about these evacuation centres can be accessed by the Fiji National Disaster Management Office during any disasters for possible use,” she said.

Last week, CAN DO partners gathered for a week-long pre-cyclone training in Nadi as Fiji enters into the new cyclone season.

The training provided the opportunities for the churches to ask and be socialised with the NDMO’s priorities and align to the legislations that are in place to protect and inform all who wish to be involved in preparedness and response work.

Participants also visited sites to carry out mapping and retrofitting at selected sites in the West.

The Safe n Redi Project focuses on building church preparedness capacities to complement current Geographic Information System (GIS) preparedness and response tools within the NDMO.

This will enable lifesaving decision-making with database information from mapping of church properties to be used as potential evacuation centres.

Officiating at the opening of the training, NDMO director Vasiti Soko told participants that the church is not just about evacuation centres; they are not just the hub to house the evacuees when there is a distress but church is also the home of many.

“You are the hope, you are also the strength they (evacuees) need in an event of a disaster and finally, you are the go to place to build us back to normalcy. That is why we are here,” Ms Soko said.

“It’s not just the GIS preparedness. The data that you provide us will not only enhance the capability that we have but it will enable our national leaders to make decisions at a quicker time and also enable lifesaving decision-making.”

The Safe n Redi Project is implemented in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

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