Churches focus on Disaster Management

Church leaders and members of CAN DO team at the FCC Forum

The Church Agencies Network Disaster Operations (CAN DO) Fiji will continue to expand their reach working with churches and faith-based organisations in raising awareness and ensuring collaboration and coordination in disaster management to enhance community resilience to disasters.

CAN DO Fiji is one of the four consortiums under the Australian Humanitarian Partnership’s Disaster READY program which is made up of nine churches and faith-based organizations.

CAN DO Fiji Project Manager Daniel Taufaga said they (CAN DO Fiji) were grateful for the opportunity to be part of the weeklong conference of the Fiji Council of Churches at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour.

He said they welcome any platform given to share their experience working in the humanitarian space in the areas of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

He reiterated CAN DO’s core role which is to provide support to churches and faith-based organizations by investing in church leadership for disaster management, disaster preparedness and planning capacity as well as in disaster response.

Daniel Taufaga presents at the forum

“CAN DO Fiji’s participation in the forum is an eye-opener for me. Most of us got to hear about it for the first time and we salute them for the work they have been carrying out with their member churches and organisations in ensuring we are being disaster ready,” Reverend Tuiono Tuitaro of the Nadi Inter-denominational Pastors Network said.

He said the presentations made by the CAN DO team served as a reminder for them to look after our resources because God not only created human beings but also our environment or surroundings that we need to protect.

Reverend Taniela Burekama of the Fiji Evangelic Fellowship said the concept shared by CAN DO is about walking the talk and most of the lessons on preparedness and climate change actions are based on biblical teachings.

The weeklong conference by FCC attracts church leaders from its 13 members. At the conference, it was revealed that out of the 539,536 total Christian population in Fiji, FCC has 375,000 population comprising of 10 denomination and 3 ministries.

Meanwhile CAN DO has 9 members which includes ADRA Fiji, Fiji Salvation Army, Fiji Baptist Convention, Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, Anglican Church, Olafou, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Caritas and the Fiji Council of Churches (secretariat). ADRA Fiji has been leading the consortium as the secretariat since CAN DO Fiji’s inception in 2017.

For the past 5 years, CAN DO Fiji has been working across Fiji focusing on five main areas.

· Women in Leadership – Encourages inclusive participation of women in disaster management where they are capacitated during Community Based Disaster Risk Management Training allowing them be part of the Community Disaster Committees that will be activated during any disaster.

· Safe n Redi Project – Focuses on mapping of church properties as potential evacuation centers while retrofitting of the existing ones to ensure they are disabled friendly.

· Volunteer Mobilization Program – Trains youths across Fiji to be on standby to offer help in their communities while and other affected areas when disaster strikes.

· Psychological First Aid (PFA) – Focused on training CAN DO members to be able to offer psychosocial support as first responders during any disaster.

· Theology in Disaster Resilience in a Changing Climate (TDRCC) Program – Develop resources to help communities and churches to explore the meaning of resilience, preparedness and suffering during disaster from a biblical point of view.