Fiji – Whole Village Relocated After Landslide and Cyclone Disasters

The whole village of Tukuraki in Ba, Fiji, is about to be moved and relocated to a safer area, away from the threat of landslides and other natural hazards.

Currently Tukuraki is based precariously under a steep mountain. It’s vulnerable location has meant it has suffered from a wave of disasters in recent times.

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.

The community was struck once again after Tropical Cyclone Winston caused widespread destruction across Fiji earlier this year. 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.

Fiji - Damage from Tropical Cyclone Winston, February 2016
Fiji – Damage from Tropical Cyclone Winston, February 2016

The process of relocating the village had in fact begun in 2012. By February 2014, a new site was selected after a geo-technical assessment completed by the Mineral Resources Department.

The ground-breaking of the new village site begins today, 21 July, 2016.
The 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,” National Disaster Management Office Director, Akapusi Tuifagalele, said.
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 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,” Lavina 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.