Ba, Fiji – The village of Tukuraki in Yakete, Ba is based precariously under a steep mountain which means its risk of being hit by natural disasters is a reality for its community. In January 2012, a landslide plunged through the community killing a family of four and burying more than 50 percent of the village area after a week of heavy rain in the western division triggered the slip. The landslide also wiped out the village access road, fresh water resources, and homes.
Tukuraki village was then struck by disaster again within 12 months as Cyclone Evan, a Category 4 Tropical Cyclone, hit the community in December 2012. This cyclone destroyed what remained and what had been salvaged from the landslide, again destroying crops and damaging repaired infrastructure.
At the time of the landslide, the community shifted to a temporary village site and the Fiji Government, through the Commissioner Western’s Office, decided the whole village would need to be relocated permanently due to its vulnerability to landslides and other natural hazards. In February 2014, a new site was selected after a geo-technical assessment completed by the Mineral Resources Department.
However, another disaster struck the community as Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated Fiji earlier this year, leaving unprecedented damage in its wake.
The Tukuraki community was again impacted badly as the village was still struggling to recover from the previous disasters. Without safe dwellings, Tukuraki residents were forced to take refuge in nearby caves during the cyclone. Based on this premise, the Fiji Government is committed to relocating them and today the ground-breaking of the new village site begins.
This timely work is being led by Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and has been made possible through the European Union Funded Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific Project (BSRP), implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC).The total cost of the project is $600,000 FJD.
“The Fiji Government is grateful to the European Union and SPC for its financial assistance in funding the relocation of the Tukuraki community. The Government initially had budgetary allocation in the 2016 budget to finance the relocation, however due to the devastation of TC Winston, the fund was re-diverted to finance relief efforts,” said Akapusi Tuifagalele, Director National Disaster Management Office.
The Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, represented by Jesus Lavina will participate in the ground-breaking ceremony at the new village site.
The European Union is committed to strengthening disaster resilience in Fiji and the Pacific and current commitment like the Tukuraki relocation project is a testimony to this.
“It is work like this that really shows the challenges and success that disaster resilience work has in countries like Fiji and other Pacific Island countries. The European Union is committed to increasing disaster resilience in the Pacific and this community has been through the worst impact of disasters like landslides, cyclones and flooding all in the past four years so this long-term solution will help them rebuild in a safe environment,” he said
Project Manager of the Pacific Community’s BSRP project, Taito Nakalevu said the work helps create effective, long-term disaster resilience for communities like Tukuraki, which supports not only disaster risk reduction but helps ensure community stability, long-term economic and social development.
“Tukuraki Village is being relocated due to its vulnerability to natural disasters and our project is dedicated to supporting the Fiji NDMO to reduce disaster impacts in a real and meaningful way. Tukuraki, like other communities, will not be spared from impacts of natural disasters but this relocation is to ensure risk reductions are made and found based on the best solution for the community’s long term stability and prosperity,” Mr Nakalevu said.
The Tukuraki community is expected to move into their new homes by the end of the year.
The ACP-EU Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific project (BSRP) is a €19.37million project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC). The objective of the project is to reduce the vulnerability, as well as the social, economic and environmental costs of disasters caused by natural hazards, thereby achieving regional and national sustainable development and poverty alleviation in ACP Pacific Island States.
Lisa Kingbserry, Communications and Media Officer ACP-EU BSRP Project +679 9252 849 firstname.lastname@example.org
Litiana Bainimarama Training, Education and Awareness Officer, NDMO Fiji +679 9238 825
Kasim Mohammed Nazeem, Press Information Officer, European Union +679 8672 255