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Fiji – two months on

Almost two months on from Cyclone Winston, Habitat for Humanity has distributed over 1,300 shelter repair kits and will be expanding programming to help more disaster affected families in Fiji.

A total of shelter repair kits will be distributed to 5,000 families to assist with immediate shelter needs. The kits include tarpaulins, hardware and tools to allow families to repair their homes.

Manoa, who lives in a village in Tailevu where 95% of homes were damaged, was the recipient of a shelter repair kit.

“Our houses have been blown away and damaged but one of the key things to fix first is to build a place where the children can study,” said Manoa.

Manoa plans to use the tarpaulin sheets to repair the roof of a hall which will act as a temporary classroom for the children. “I believe in providing good education to children and giving them an enabling environment,” adds Manoa.

Habitat will also commence programs that focus on repairing damaged water and sanitation systems, with longer term plans to provide disaster resilient housing solutions.

“Providing safe shelter is a key part of the recovery process and getting families back on their feet,” said Habitat for Humanity chief executive, Martin Thomas.

Amidst the devastation of Cyclone Winston, existing homes built by Habitat for Humanity survived the category five storm when it made landfall in February and withstood the wind gusts of 325 kilometres per hour.

Mr Thomas says the survival of the houses in Fiji underlines the importance of preparing communities for disasters – such as building ‘cyclone proof’ houses.

“Disaster resistant measures help ensure communities are not only prepared for disasters, but can mitigate the effects when they do strike,” said Mr Thomas.

Such was the ferocity of Cyclone Winston, that widespread damage to communities was almost inevitable. 350,000 people have been affected by the cyclone and the need for shelter is remains critical.

This was illustrated last week as the threat of another cyclone loomed. Fortunately, Cyclone Xena weakened and passed Fiji, but not after bring heavy falls and gusty winds to the tiny island nation.

The heavy rain heightened already dire conditions for thousands of Fijians who still remain in transitional accommodation.

“We are deeply concerned for the people of Fiji,” said Mr Thomas. “Cyclone Winston may have disappeared from the news headlines but the need is still great. The more funds we raise, the more families we can help.”

Please donate to Habitat’s Fiji emergency appeal today

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