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Shelter and dignity after Cyclone Winston

Tarpaulins, safe drinking water and mosquito coils are helping families keep their health and dignity in the wake of Fiji's worst cyclone.

Friday February 26, 2016

Salote Roko
"The hardest part is seeing families suffer. But we reassure them that more help is coming. We let them know that we are there for them and we will be back with more." Red Cross volunteer Salote Roko reports after distributing relief supplies.

The death toll continues to rise as emergency teams reach the islands hit hardest by Cyclone Winston.  

With hundreds of homes destroyed and far more damaged, some 35,000 people are seeking shelter in evacuation centres across Fiji.  

The Australian Government has announced a $5 million assistance package focused on getting lifesaving support to people affected in Fiji. This includes $1.5 million to Red Cross to provide and distribute relief supplies such as blankets, shelter and hygiene items.  

Our relief efforts focus on helping families keep their health and dignity.  

A roof over people's heads
Red Cross teams are now giving families tarpaulins and basic tools to construct temporary shelters or patch up damaged roofs; a critical need given the ongoing rain. Blankets and kitchen sets are also being provided to help family life return to normal.  

Preventing disease
Diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and dengue can spread quickly after a disaster, especially when people are living out of their homes in crowded and unsanitary conditions.  

Red Cross is providing safe drinking water and containers to store it in, as well as water purification tablets. Mosquito coils will limit the spread of diseases like dengue or malaria.  

Soap is a crucial relief item. Giving people soap, and encouraging them to wash their hands often, lowers the risk of diarrhoeal disease by almost 50 per cent.  

Protecting dignity
With so many families living in evacuation centres or sharing homes with neighbours, personal dignity is a vital concern.  

Our relief supplies include kits with toothpaste, soap and toilet paper, as well as sanitary pads for women and baby kits.  

Sourcing goods
Red Cross stocks up on relief items well in advance of cyclone season, and replenishes stocks as needed. We purchase goods in bulk, close to where they will be needed, and assemble them into ready-to-go relief kits that can be quickly distributed by our local volunteers. This saves money and time when responding.  

Read: Why donating goods in an international crisis is not a good idea.  

Wherever possible, we re-stock from local suppliers. This does more than save money: it ensures that goods are appropriate for the people who need them, and also provides a much-needed stimulus to the local economy.  

A word of thanks:
We are immensely grateful to all those who have donated to our Cyclone Winston Appeal, and to the Australian Government for its generous contribution.  

Our teams, including volunteers drawn from the communities hit by the cyclone, are working non-stop to bring relief to those who need it most.  

Help provide shelter and dignity: make a tax-deductible donation today.