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Pacific Islands
children © UNICEF Pacific/Mepham/2015 Smiling children of Cikobia, Lau Group, Fiji seated in their village despite having been affected by category 5 Cyclone Winston in March 2016.

Pacific Island countries

In 2016, UNICEF and partners plan for:
48,000

children under 5 years received micronutrient supplementation

85,000

people provided with safe drinking water per agreed standards

30,500

kindergarten and primary school-aged children accessed quality education (including through temporary facilities)

2016 Requirements: US$12,071,284

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The Pacific Island countries office requires an additional US$7.1 million to respond to Tropical Cyclone Winston which affected Fiji islands in February, bringing the appeal to US$12.1 million.

Snapshot

Total affected population: 2.3 million
Total affected children: 1.4 million

Total people to be reached in 2016: 85,000
Total children to be reached in 2016: 51,000

Pacific Island populations are experiencing multiple natural hazards exacerbated by climate change and as of late 2015 by El Niño.  Drought warnings or alerts were in force for Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.  Vanuatu, which is still recovering from Category 5 Cyclone Pam, was particularly hard hit by El Niño. Rainfall in early 2016 eased the situation in those six countries, but they remain fragile with continued high incidence of malnutrition and communicable diseases. Since March 2016, the drought has worsened in the Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau which declared States of Emergency. The El Niño should subside around June-July, but the Pacific is already preparing for La Niña with similar extreme weather patterns expected.

From 19 to 21 February, Tropical Cyclone Winston passed through southern Fiji as a Category 2 storm, and then ravaged central Fiji as a Category 5 system. The hardest hit islands are the Lau group and Lomaiviti groups, which include Koro Island, in the Eastern Division, Rakiraki and Tavua in Western Division, and Taveuni and Cakaudrove in Northern Division.  Koro Island’s low lying coastal communities were directly hit and high sea surges razed most infrastructure and crushed food crops and vegetation.  On 20 February, a 30-day “State of Natural Disaster” was declared which has since been extended until 19 April.  The education and health systems were also impaired with 494 schools damaged or destroyed1, affecting over 85,000 students2 and more than 60 facilities with immunization cold chain equipment damaged.  Children and women are facing increased protection risks in the aftermath of displacement and emotional trauma.

Humanitarian strategy

2016 Programme Targets

Nutrition

  • 800 children aged 6 to 59 months with global acute malnutrition identified and referred, including 120 children treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM)
  • 48,000 children under 5 years received micronutrient supplementation
  • 18,200 caregivers of children aged 0 to 23 months counselled on appropriate infant and young child feeding practices

Health

  • 50,000 children aged 6 to 59 months vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases
  • 31 national cold room and cold storage facilities restored

WASH

  • 85,000 people provided with safe drinking water per agreed standards
  • 85,000 people provided with sanitation and hygiene supplies
  • 85,000 people provided with sanitation and hygiene promotion information

Child Protection

  • 30,000 children accessed psychosocial relief through sensitized teachers, reading, discussion, play and resilience-infused learning approaches

Education

  • 30,500 kindergarten and primary school-aged children accessed quality education (including through temporary facilities)

Preparation for the 2016 Pacific cyclone season continues to focus on building back better and strengthening community resilience, human capacity and emergency response mechanisms in the Pacific. In response to Cyclone Winston, UNICEF and partners are supporting government’s efforts to implement a multi-sector package of interventions including Education, WASH, Child Protection, and Communicating with Communities, Health and Nutrition.  The delivery strategy combines technical assistance to Ministry Cluster Leads for assessments, planning, information management, coordination and knowledge sharing with Cluster members.  UNICEF is also assisting with emergency procurement, logistics, technical and cash assistance to strengthen service delivery.  Monitoring, reporting and other assurance activities are built into all activities, including monitoring for equity.

The 2016 sector targets, which are in line with the CCCs have been revised to include Tropical Cyclone Winston.  Together with the Government, UNICEF is co-leading WASH, Education (jointly with Save the Children) and Protection (jointly with UN Women) clusters. UNICEF is actively supporting the Health cluster (including Nutrition) led by WHO and the Ministry of Health and providing support to OCHA for the UN emergency communications group. UNICEF cluster leads are participating in NDMO coordination meetings and are a member of the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT).

Results to date

Under the government’s leadership, UNICEF and partners quickly stepped up their capacity to respond to TC Winston to provide key interventions such as psychosocial support, broadcasting of public health messages, active participation in government-led needs assessments, information management and much-needed WASH kits, school tents and educational material.  All supplies were distributed by the Government in pre-identified priority response geographic areas with special attention to children in the hardest-to-reach locations.  Within 9 days into the response, the Government reopened over 1,000 schools and early childhood education centres.  As of 5 April, more than 14,000 students have received learning supplies and over 11,000 primary and secondary children and their teachers are using temporary learning spaces, including tents and school-in-a-box kits.  Tarpaulins have also been distributed to accommodate 46 kindergartens in most affected areas.  With support from UNICEF and partners, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MoHMS) has reached 200,000 people with safe drinking water and has developed joint standards for emergency sanitation to avoid the outbreak of water-borne diseases. The Nutrition Cluster is monitoring severe and moderate acute malnutrition and issues affecting pregnant and lactating mothers, including advocacy for breastfeeding rather than supplying infant formula.  Therapeutic supplies to treat approximately 400 SAM cases and Vitamin A supplements for an estimated 40,000 children aged 6 to 59 months have been provided to MoHMS.  UNICEF is also supporting Government partners to strengthen supply tracking and monitoring systems.

Funding requirements

For 2016, UNICEF requested US$5 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in up to 14 affected Pacific Island countries. On 4 March 2016, an inter-agency Flash Appeal totaling US$38.6 million was launched for a three-month emergency response for Cyclone Winston in Fiji. The UNICEF component of this appeal is US$7.1 million. This brings the revised appeal for the Pacific Island Countries to US$12.1 million through the end of 2016, to undertake essential humanitarian action for children in the Pacific.  Given the impact of Cyclone Winston on Fiji islands, a bigger population than expected was affected with the health, WASH and education infrastructure severely damaged or destroyed.  Budgets for these sectors have been revised accordingly.

The Pacific remains a challenging working environment, especially when it comes to complex logistics and very expensive shipping and distribution of supplies. Costs of freight remain high and access and communication with outer Islands is an ongoing challenge. Without additional funding UNICEF will be unable to support the national response in providing essential and life-saving assistance to the affected populations in the PICs, and in Fiji in particular.

* Funding received as of 31 March 2016
** The carry-forward figure is the unutilized budget balance that was carried forward from the prior year to the current year, available as of 1 January 2016.
*** Total funding available includes total funds received against current appeal plus carry-forward
∞ Given the impact of Cyclone Winston on Fiji islands, a bigger population than expected was affected with the health, wash and education infrastructure severely damaged or destroyed.  Budgets for these sectors have been revised accordingly.

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1 Total Number of schools damaged/destroyed and costing, Ministry of Education, 1 April 2016
2 
UNICEF Humanitarian Situation Report No.9, 24 March 2016