The Government of Fiji declared a State of Natural Disaster on 12th April, following a category 4 Tropical Cyclone Harold, which devasted the Eastern, Central and Western part of the country. Houses were fully damaged, people severely affected, WASH facilities destroyed, amidst COVID-19 pandemic already imposing greater risk and restrictions. Wainikiti Ravualala, a WASH Officer for Save the Children Fiji, was part of the relief distribution team in Nakasaleka district, Kadavu the Eastern Division of Fiji, which was among the worst hit.
Wainikiti Ravualala, provided trainings to 35 children from two villages in Nakasaleka district. She stated “This training was conducted to raise awareness on COVID-19 and to impart good hygiene practices, so that these child champions would advocate their learnings to their families and communities, creating a cycle of raising and advocating awareness on COVID-19 and other relevant post disaster diseases that affects children” . An evaluation conducted after the completion of the training, showed that their knowledge on good hygiene practices was remarkable than prior to the training. Ms. Wainitikiti beamed with pride and stated
“These child champions displayed impressive knowledge on good hygiene practices and were eager to share them”
In addition, hygiene kits were also distributed to the affected communities to help them recover from the effects.
Despite COVID-19 social distancing in place, people are still gathering without taking into consideration these restrictions,
“People carried on as usual even though there is the social distancing rules and sanctions. This openness of interaction between people was a challenge”
recalls Ms. Wainikiti. However, she made sure to address these issues during the training sessions and distributing hygiene kits to the communities. She is hopeful that the child champions will carry forward these messages.
Save the Children Fiji conducted an Initial Rapid Assessment (IRA) in the district of Nakasaleka in Kadavu as its area of focus in its provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance to children. Aligning to Save the Children Fiji’s strategic plan, the rapid assessment addressed priority areas of Child Protection, Education and Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH). The IRA identified the two villages in Nakasaleka district as high risk in Leptospirosis and other waterborne diseases, where Ms. Wainikiti Ravualala conducted the trainings. Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death, since last year it has killed at least 10 people in Fiji.