15 Mar 2016

Fiji Red Cross worried about sanitation

9:29 am on 15 March 2016

The Fiji Red Cross says its biggest concerns for Fiji are shelter, water and food security, with health and sanitation issues also starting to appear.

It says it has assessed about 11,000 households, and is currently focussing on aid distribution efforts.

A photo taken on 25 February, 2016, and received on February 26 shows Red Cross handing out blankets in cyclone devastated Fiji.

Members of Red Cross hand out blankets in cyclone-devastated Fiji on 25 February. Photo: Nakita Bingham

Fiji Red Cross director general Filipe Nainoca said most of what they were currently providing was to assist people to build or get temporary shelter.

"The issue of course now is with water, water supply. Communities affected, their water sources have been affected, and so we of course in the second phase we'll be looking at assisting them on that. Food supply of course is important because most of these people have had their plantations destroyed."

Filipe Nainoca said health issues were also starting to appear as hygiene was directly related to the availability of water.

He said there were reports of diarrhea, and toilets and sanitation was also an issue due to flush toilet systems being destroyed by the cyclone.

Mr Nainoca said they were encouraging villages and communities to dig deep toilets.

Sisters' quarters in Ra Maternity Hospital Fiji

Sisters' quarters in Ra Maternity Hospital Fiji Photo: Alex Perrottet/RNZ

Population Fund pitches in

The United Nations Population Fund has received an extra US$500,000 to support its work in protection and emergency reproductive health issues in Fiji.

The UNFPA's Pacific Sub-Regional Office Director, Dr Laurent Zessler, said the money would support protection issues stemming from gender-based violence, rape, and safe spaces.

Dr Zessler said the UNFPA had ordered post-rape kits to provide emergency contraception and post-exposure prophylaxis for survivors of sexual violence, and would create eight women-friendly safe spaces in Fiji.

The office is also deploying midwives and reproductive health kits around areas of the country hard-hit by cyclone Winston last month.