Tropical Cyclone Winston was the most powerful cyclone to strike Fiji in recent times. It cut a path of destruction across the country in February 2016. The eye of the Category 5 cyclone packed wind bursts of up to 320 kilometres an hour as it tracked west across the country.
Forty per cent of the population (350,000 people) were affected including 42 who died as result of the cyclone.
Fiji was already suffering from the impact of the strong El Niño event, which caused drought and water shortages. The Fijian Government estimated the total damage bill to be more than AUD$600 million and shelter, health, food, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and protection were quickly identified as the most urgent needs for affected people. We deployed 12 people to the emergency response including communications for communities development specialist Kate Learmonth and a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) mapping specialist.