Crucial assessment

Charlene Lanyon, Monday, March 21, 2016.

PSYCHO-SOCIAL assessments conducted on women and children immediately after a natural disaster is crucial in identifying and addressing the specific needs of women and children.

UN Women's Representative in Fiji Aleta Miller said the funding it provided to Empower Pacific enabled counsellors to conduct mental health sessions with women after Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston to address those needs.

"We have received reports of women feeling unsafe in evacuation centres, sexual harassment, increased workload and stress," Ms Miller said.

"Having this information early in the response means we can move quickly to work with Empower Pacific and other partner agencies to ensure that measures are put in place to prevent violence against children and women, and those women have access to important information and services."

Empower Pacific senior counsellor Bimla Madavan said a team was deployed to Rakiraki and other areas in the Western Division that were hit by the cyclone.

"We do assessments on the spot looking at emergency needs, identify any gaps and link people with the services they need."

"While flattened houses, destroyed crops and flooded villages are easier to identify, the psychological toll are not immediately apparent and can be pushed aside while families focus on securing food, water and shelter."

Counsellor Sisilia Siga, who covered the Lomaiviti and Lau island groups, said children were still traumatised by their experiences during the natural disaster.