A relief package known as the Cyclone Assistance Relief Effort for Fiji (CARE for Fiji) has been launched by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, following widespread damage from subsequent tropical cyclones, TC Josie and TC Keni earlier this month.
CARE for Fiji covers a host of new Government initiatives: HOMES-CARE, FARMS-CARE, SUGARCANE-CARE, LEASEHOLDERS-CARE, WELFARE-CARE AND eTRANSPORT-CARE.
“Under HOMES-CARE, households with an annual income of under $50,000 who have lost items in their homes or whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the cyclones can apply to receive prepaid electronic cards to purchase materials to repair their homes and replace possessions that were lost or badly damaged,” Bainimarama confirmed.
“If your home was totally destroyed or suffered severe structural damage you qualify for $7,000 in relief assistance. Those funds can go towards the reconstruction of your home and to cover the replacement costs for your lost possessions or household items, that includes television sets, furniture, housewares; anything of value in your home that was damaged by the rains and flooding.
“If your home suffered partial structural damage in the cyclones, say you had a wall collapse or your roof was blown away, you can apply for $3,000 in assistance to rebuild your home and replace your lost possessions. If your home was not severely damaged, but all or most of your possessions were lost or damaged beyond use by high flood waters you will be eligible for $3,000 in assistance.”
Households that suffered minor damage and whose possessions were partially damaged or lost are also eligible to apply for $1000 in assistance for any repairs and replacements of damaged possessions.
He said estimates note that around 150,000 Fijians had been impacted by TC Jose and TC Keni, and that while assessments of the full extent of damage were still underway, it was clear that an immediate program of assistant was necessary.
“CARE for Fiji is an unprecedented and wide-reaching programme of Government assistance that cuts across Government ministries and departments to aid those Fijians impacted by the back-to-back onslaughts of TC Josie and TC Keni.”
The first round of assistance is being directed towards those affected on the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.
“Those Fijians under vakavanua arrangements are eligible for $1,500 in relief assistance if their homes were severely damaged or destroyed. If only their possessions were damaged, they are eligible to receive $1,000 in assistance.
Recipients under HOMES-CARE will be able to use their electronic cards at approved retail vendors to purchase the items they need to rebuild their homes and replace the items they lost. Expressions of Interest for vendors will be in tomorrow's Fiji Sun and we'll announce the full list of vendors next week.
“If you meet the criteria for this programme, you can find the full details on when, where and how to apply for HOMES-CARE advertised early next week in the Fiji Sun, on Radio and published on the Fijian Government Facebook page.”
The Fijian Government also announced that cyclone-affected leaseholders on Native and State land with an annual household income less than $50,000 could be assisted under the LEASEHOLDERS-CARE program, in Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.
The Prime Minister confirmed that Fijians leasing Native or State Land for residential or agricultural purposes would have 12 months of their due lease payment paid for the Government.
“We're also coming to the aid of our farmers -- all of our farmers -- through two new relief programmes: SUGARCANE-CARE and FARMS-CARE.
“Under SUGARCANE-CARE, my Government will be directly assisting cane farmers affected by these storms by covering the cost of replacing fertiliser that was washed away for all cane that was planted between November of last year until now. We will also be clearing debris brought in by flooding in cane growing regions, and clearing all in-field drainage and waterways in the wake of the cyclones. Applying for this assistance is simple, application forms will be made available through the FSC sector offices.”
He added that with 90 per cent of their crops lost, crop farmers would be provided new seedlings and dry seeds through the Agriculture Ministry.
“The Ministry will also be clearing debris on all of our affected farmers property, helping to replace damaged fencing, and providing assistance for lost weedicide and fertiliser. Depending on their land's preparedness for their replacement planting, farmers can expect to see the benefits of my Government's replanting assistance as soon as is both possible and appropriate.
And for our livestock farmers, we are offering free feed and replacement fencing to help cover any damages to your farms and recoup the value of lost heads of livestock sustained due to the severe weather, along with the clearing of debris.”
Other programs are also coming into effect for cyclone-affected.