Forty families, whose homes were completely destroyed during TC Winston, will benefit from a partnership between Australia and the European Union via a project implemented by the Habitat For Humanity Fiji (HFH Fiji) and the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC).
The project called 'Delivery of Vocational Training in Fiji' is developing a cadre of skilled and experienced carpenters/builders with Australian certification qualification. Within this project, course facilitators have designed an innovative training course that helps address some of the shelter needs in TC Winston- affected areas.
Apart from the provision of 40 new core shelters, this partnership aims to develop the construction skills of 33 displaced workers from the Penang Sugar mill due to the impact of TC Winston, including family members of local sugarcane farmers.
These workers are undertaking a Certificate II in Construction course designed to offer them an opportunity to gain skills and qualification in the construction industry while assisting with the construction of cyclone resilient core shelters in communities within the sugar belt areas of Viti Levu.
HFH Fiji has also been engaged in the training course, providing technical expertise to APTC and co-facilitating the construction effort throughout the course.
A handover ceremony of the first of the 40 new cyclone-resilient core homes was held in Narewa Village in Rakiraki today.
Speaking at the ceremony, Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Mr Christoph Wagner, said “The EU appreciates this partnership with Australia through its APTC program and HFH Fiji. We value this effort because it is about rebuilding structures over the short term, but more importantly, it is about rebuilding lives over the long term.”
The training for the Certificate II Construction program is delivered by APTC through the EU-funded Training Support to the Sugar Industry project.
APTC is an innovative development project funded by the Australian Government, which delivers Australian skills and qualifications for a wide range of vocational careers for skilled Pacific workers.
The Counsellor, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ms Joanne Choe said that the Australian Government is proud to be able to support APTC in the delivery of training for workers who are engaged in the construction of the new houses.
"The new homes should bring hope to the families who lost everything during TC Winston, and encourage them to continue to show resilience in rebuilding their lives," she added.
APTC Chief Executive Officer, Ms Denise O’Brien announced the next phase of this program, will build on the partnerships developed in this phase of the project and delivery community based workshops to up to 200 people.
“These workshops will develop the skills of communities to ‘build back safer’ to mitigate against the level of destruction experienced in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Winston, earlier this year,” said Ms O’Brien.
HFH Fiji has been working closely with APTC in identifying construction sites in the most affected parts of the sugar belt areas. The 21sqm structure is a core shelter designed to withstand category 4 wind speeds and built in accordance with the National Building Code in Fiji.
“We are very pleased to be part of this project that not only builds homes for 40 families in need of cyclone-resilient shelter, but also focuses on construction training that plays a pivotal role in assisting communities with the rehabilitation work. Our focus has been on building back safer and we sincerely thank all donors involved in reaching out to families in need of shelter and training,” said HFH Fiji National Director, Mr Masi Latianara.
The construction led by HFH Fiji encourages homeowners and their volunteer labourers to assist towards construction that promotes Build Back Safer techniques.
Upon completion of the 22-week program combined with a further six-month work placement, participants will have the opportunity to apply for entry into the APTC Certificate III in Carpentry program.
The construction of the 40 houses is expected to be completed by the end of this year.