Tropical Cyclone Winston - Fiji Government and World Food Programme Joint Emergency Response

Lessons Learned Workshop Report, April 2017

In the search for more effective ways to provide food assistance to people affected by emergencies, WFP is exploring the use of existing government social protection schemes and social safety nets, and their related targeting mechanisms, transfer modalities and delivery mechanisms. In developing or strengthening these existing systems, WFP aims to increase the effectiveness, cost efficiency and timeliness of emergency response.

By providing complementary support to the affected population through existing government structures and channels, WFP can reduce duplication of operational components (targeting, transferring, monitoring, etc) and help develop a strong partnership with the government. By transferring assistance directly to beneficiaries to address food insecurity, such joint collaboration and cooperation can benefit the entire emergency response operation.

In February 2016, the Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston struck Fiji with sustained winds of up to 230 km/h. This was one of the most violent storms ever registered in the Southern Hemisphere with almost 62 percent of the population affected and losses estimated at USD 1.38 billion (corresponding to approximately 31 percent of GDP).

The Fiji National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) led the response with all national government-led clusters activated and with support from the international community. The Fiji Government requested support from the WFP, part of which was provided in the form of USD 3.4 million for food security support through cash based transfers, for an assistance period of two months (May-June 2016). WFP used the shock responsiveness capacity of the existing Fiji social safety nets (targeting and assistance delivery mechanisms) to reach over 72,000 people of those worst affected by the cyclone (12,761 households + 7,895 individuals).

A workshop was organised in Suva on 14-15 September 2016 to bring together stakeholders1 involved at different levels in the joint WFP and Government Emergency Response to TC Winston, to present the achievements, opportunities and challenges of the response and to discuss opportunities to strengthen future responses to emergencies in Fiji.
Approximately 35 stakeholders participated in the workshop, including donors, government agencies, NGOs, multilateral organizations, UN Agency representatives and WFP experts from the Fiji Country Office and the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau.

Presentations by various agencies of the Fiji Government (MOA, MOE and DSW), WFP, the World Bank and ADRA, shared the scope of work of each stakeholder, and provided a forum for stakeholders to share their experiences and findings and an opportunity to highlight the challenges encountered during the implementation of the response as well as recommendations for addressing these challenges in future.

Based on the workshop outputs, this report will review and capture the operational challenges in each area of implementation and provide some direction and concrete suggestions for the improvement of the emergency response. The recommendations from this workshop could be used, together with the recommendations from the internal lessons learned workshop held by the Fiji Government, to inform policy-making and foster capacity to build and strengthen social safety nets with a shock responsive component.

The main recommendations include the development of standby agreements and standard operating procedures (SOPs) with potential stakeholders, with clear definitions of roles, responsibilities and timeframes for the implementation of emergency response through shock responsive social safety nets. Other recommendations include the development of communications strategies and tools, information management and sharing instruments, internal and external coordination plans and mechanisms for all stakeholders involved both at the central and local levels, and improvement of emergency assessments and vulnerability analysis, types of assistance modalities and delivery mechanisms. Training of pre-selected surge staff able and the development of an M&E strategy to follow up on evolving contexts, assistance delivery processes and beneficiaries’ satisfaction and recovery, are also recommended.

Ultimately, the collection and formalisation of the entire body of knowledge related to this emergency response operation could be shared at the regional Pacific governmental level, in order to facilitate the transfer of information on the strengthening of social protection schemes and their shock responsiveness, and to foster the capacity of the Fiji Government to provide support, operationally or institutionally, to neighbouring countries facing similar challenges.