Psycho-social assessments help address needs of women and girls in Fiji

“Some of them just wanted to talk and share what they went through. How they survived the night, the nightmares, being trapped under the roof … they were just happy we came to them.”

Saral Chand is one of Empower Pacific’s counsellors and was on the ground in Rakiraki and other affected communities in the Western Division within days of Tropical Cyclone Winston hitting Fiji. The organisation has more than 20 people out in the field and in many cases, they were the first people to reach some of these communities and islands.

In normal times, Empower Pacific provide professional counselling and social work services through branches in Labasa, Suva, Nadi and Lautoka. It’s the second time they have deployed to deal with the aftermath of a cyclone, but Ms Chand says they have never seen anything like this before.

In the initial stages, Empower Pacific counsellors carry out psycho-social assessments in affected communities and evacuation sites gathering, information on the kind of services and support that is required. This includes identifying the risk factors associated with the physical environment, living situation, nutrition, mental health, and behaviours. These assessments feed into the official response efforts coordinated by Fiji’s Disaster Management Committee. They also provide immediate trauma counselling and group psycho-education sessions.

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Source: UN Women. Date: 18 March 2016