Community Field Workers
The Live and Learn Environmental Education organization is an NGO operating across the Pacific. In Fiji, it is an important partner in emergency response, as well as in promoting community awareness around water management, sanitation and hygiene practices, and disaster preparedness.
After Tropical Cyclone had hit parts of Fiji, the Live and Learn team was concerned for the safety of families living in the communities where it usually worked.
The team came up with a strategy to contact focal points in the communities, to assess the scale of the damage and assess needs for assistance.
To comply with COVID-19 requirements for physical distancing, the team reached out to people by phone, conducting surveys for each settlement. When they needed to visit families in person, they donned full protective gear.
During the exercise, the Live and Learn team became aware of acute hardship among several families affected by the cyclone, and organized a response in the form of care packages delivered to vulnerable households. The team even created a kitty, where staff members donated from their own money to help those in urgent need.
As frontline responders in the communities, the Live and Learn team had to take great care in adhering to the safety precautions laid down by national authorities to stop the spread of COVID-19. The team paid particular attention to hygiene, washing hands with soap or hand sanitizers continuously. The care packages also included newsletters on COVID-19, to help improve sanitation practices in the community, and explain that some of the NGO’s work had to be paused due to the pandemic but would resume when things returned to normal. In partnership with UN Habitat, the Live and Learn staff engaged enthusiastic young community members to paint murals in assigned spaces, to spread awareness of COVID-19 and keep people safe and healthy.
Live and Learn Environmental Education projects are typically implemented in vulnerable communities. In Fiji, this meant working in informal settlements, where many residents were left unemployed or had their work hours cut back due to COVID-19. Others had had to temporarily relocate back to their villages to care for their families. The care packages delivered by the Live and Learn team helped these families cope, while they got themselves back on their feet.