On 20 and 21 February Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston cut a path of destruction across Fiji. The Fiji Government estimates almost 350,000 people living in the cyclone’s path could have been affected (180,000 men and 170,000 women). The Fiji Government is leading the response to this emergency. The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is coordinating efforts and has activated National and Divisional Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs). A 30-day State of Natural Disaster has been declared and will expire on March 21. At least 42 people have been confirmed dead. Some 56,000 people are currently sheltering in evacuation centres. (OCHA, 29 Feb 2016)
In Tonga, local media reported approximately 2,500 people inside evacuation centres, with 10 houses destroyed and another 200 damaged. (ECHO, 19 Feb 2016)
On 29 February, the IFRC launched an Emergency Appeal seeking CHF 7 million on a preliminary basis to support the Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) to deliver assistance and support to some 38,500 people for 12 months. (IFRC, 29 Feb 2016)
On 21 March, the Government of Fiji extended the State of Natural Disaster in the areas severely affected by the cyclone until 19 April. The Government has revised the number of houses damaged by the cyclone to 32,000, increasing the estimated number of people in need of shelter assistance to 150,000. (OCHA, 23 Mar 2016)
The number of people in evacuation centres has been significantly reduced from 54,000 on 3 March to 337 on 31 March. Of the 26 active evacuation centres, 20 are located on Ovalau in Lomaiviti Province. Several clusters have raised concerns about the required assistance reaching people who had left the centres. A total of 24,800 emergency shelter items have been distributed out of which 11,000 are tents, tarpaulins or shelter kits. However, significant gaps remain in the support to self-recovery phase with no core shelter interventions reported or planned, and only 500 households out of 7,500 targeted having received hardware materials, tools and fixing kits for shelter repairs. (OCHA, 31 Mar 2016)
The cyclone damaged at least 495 schools, 88 health facilities, disrupted basic public services and destroyed crops and livelihoods. According to the post-disaster needs assessment jointly prepared by the government and development partners, total damage and losses from Winston are estimated at $1.42 billion — equivalent to 31% of gross domestic product. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) announced that it will provide a $50 million emergency assistance loan to the Government of Fiji for short-term financing of disaster recovery reconstruction programs, including school rehabilitation and housing assistance. (ADB, 30 Jun 2016).