MINISTRY OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TO ASSIST RESIDENTS
IN INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS FOLLOWING POST CYCLONE HAROLD ASSESSMENT
13 April, 2020 Suva, Fiji – The Minister of Industry, Trade, Tourism, Local Government, Housing and Community Development, Hon. Premila Kumar visited the Waidamudamu informal settlement today, to inspect damages done by Tropical Cyclone Harold.
The Minister said whilst tropical cyclone Harold directly impacted mainly Kadavu and the Lau group, a number of families in the Western and Central divisions were also affected by strong winds and flash flooding, particularly those living in informal settlements.
“Our most urgent priority now is to rebuild, within the Suva lock-down area, to enable families to live in their own homes and avoid the risk of spreading of COVID-19 in our informal settlements and Waidamudamu is our focus right now,” said the Minister.
Hon. Kumar added that a team from the Ministry had carried out an assessment of informal settlements in the Suva lock-down area and confirmed that seven (7) homes in Waidamudamu had suffered significant damage to their roofs from strong winds, and a further 59 houses also sustained damages that are now being repaired. With the exception of two families, most of the residents have returned to their homes.
“The Ministry conducted detailed assessments of the seven (7) homes and is making arrangements to assist these families withdraw funds from the Fiji National Provident Fund to buy necessary materials”
“The Ministry will also assist in the procurement of materials and will deploy a team of carpenters from the Ministry team and the Public Rental Board (PRB) maintenance team, to assist in the rebuilding efforts,” Hon. Kumar said.
The Minister also stated that the 59 families affected, could also approach the Ministry should they require assistance and this would be assessed on a case by case basis.
Waidamudamu informal settlement is being upgraded by the Government to improve the quality of life of 270 families live in this area. The construction work is progressing well and after completion, the residents will be issued with a 99 year lease.
Inspections were also carried out in Sasawira, Sakoca, Veirisi, Wailea, River Road and Caubati Settlements and no major damages to houses were noted. Waidamudamu has been frequently affected by flash flooding and the Ministry will also carry out a review of its initial flood assessment done at the planning stage of the project, to make any necessary changes to the development works to mitigate this risk.
The Ministry is also working with the team at the Housing Authority of Fiji in the Western division to complete similar assessments in the next few days. At the same time, a senior member of the Rural Housing team is assisting the Divisional Commissioner - Eastern office and the National Disaster Management Office in the initial damage assessment of Kadavu and Lau.
Minister Kumar said that building better and more resilient homes is a key part of the current reforms carried out for houses in the rural and maritime areas.
”Having house or home designs that could sustain category 5 cyclones is extremely important, thus building climate change resilience within informal settlements, is equally important,” stated Hon. Kumar.
She encouraged home owners, construction firms, builders, carpenters, households, village councils, and government agencies to use the guidelines for improving building safety and resilience of new single storey houses and schools in rural areas of Fiji. This guideline was developed by the Ministry of Industry Trade and Tourism and the World Bank after Cyclone Winston to provide good practices in construction in a non-technical manner. This guideline can be accessed from https://mitt.gov.fj/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/MITT-Guideline-single-store-houses-schools-11-12-2019.pdf
Building climate resilience within informal settlements is the focus of the Fiji Resilient Informal Settlements (FRIS) program managed by the Ministry with UN Habitat’s assistance.