Today, the U.S. Ambassador to Fiji Joseph Cella announced the approval of US$100,000 (FJD$204,550) in International Disaster Assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA). These funds will be used to support a humanitarian partner on the ground in Fiji to respond to urgent shelter, water, hygiene, and other critical needs in communities impacted by Tropical Cyclone Yasa, of the most powerful storms to ever hit Fiji.
Ambassador Cella said, “This was one of the strongest storms to hit Fiji and it has caused incredible damage. We are pleased to announce this rapid assistance of US$100,000 to help Fijians, especially those on Vanua Levu, quickly recover. I am pleased to bring this support to fortify our bridges of friendship and prosperity at this difficult time.”
Tropical Cyclone Yasa made landfall on December 17 over Vanua Levu Island, with sustained winds of approximately 132 mph and higher gusts up to 215 mph. More than 23,000 individuals were evacuated in advance of the tropical cyclone, which resulted in several deaths, scores of destroyed homes, community buildings, and crops, flooding, and power outages, most severely on the island of Vanua Levu.
USAID/BHA works with local implementing partners to disburse the funding in a manner most effective and necessary for the country needing the funds. This is the second round of USAID international Disaster Assistance for Fiji this year with the first US$100,000 sent in April to assist in the recovery efforts after Tropical Cyclone Harold.
USAID also supports disaster risk reduction programs in Fiji year-round to help communities prepare for and be more resilient to humanitarian disasters. USAID, for example, partners with the International Federation of the Red Cross by training volunteers and supporting community disaster response committees. With support from this program, the Red Cross was able to pre-position relief supplies throughout Fiji and mobilize 150 volunteers to serve as first-responders ahead of Tropical Cyclone Yasa. USAID also partners with Field Ready to work with local manufacturers to design and produce innovative products that can be used during emergencies, such as foot-operated handwashing stations and portable toilets, giving communities locally-available tools to stay healthy and stave off disease in the aftermath of a disaster.