Piloting risk screening of public sector projects in the Nadi District, Bua, Northern Division, Fiji
Improved access to food markets and health facilities are priorities under the risk informed Nasolo village development plan. Two pregnant women have been forced to give birth in the village during periods of flooding, putting them and their unborn children at risk. Commissioner Northern’s office committed funding under their capital project grants to improve the farm road for the community. Experience from the Northern Division has shown that unless risks to and from development projects are considered in the design of projects such as roads, unintended consequences can eventuate.
A Senior CCDRM Officer is in place within Commissioner Northern’s Office in the Northern Division. Commissioner Northern has mandated the Officer to risk screen the approvals process for all public sector investment programme (PSIP) and capital projects in the Northern Division.
The major risk TO the project was the potential for landslide. The other potential risk FROM the project was the potential to lose a lot of soil from the road side, causing blocked drains and waterways (which could have negative flooding, health and environmental implications). In the design and implementation of the project, particular care was taken on where and at what angle the road was cut by the contractor to avoid losses during the wet season. This also avoided vegetation loss and reduced landslide risk. The risk management measures were woven into the contractor’s Memorandum of Agreement.
Gender and social inclusion were central to the design. The senior climate change post from the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation worked with Commissioner Northern Division Office staff to identify social factors, such as access to markets and hospitals, and ensure these considerations were factored into the design.
During a series of heavy rainfall events in April 2018, the Nasolo farm road stood up to the test as it was designed to consider landslip risk. The community was able to continue access to its newly established farm lands and their incomes underwent minimal disruption.
A risk informed approach ensures greater economic opportunities. The year-round access to the farmland has meant that the kava and dalo (taro) growers have been able to sign contracts with exporters, who ship the Nasolo community’s produce to Suva, Fiji’s capital.
Nasolo farm roads project is one of the first risk screened capital projects to have undergone the full project implementation cycle in the Northern Division. Each phase of the project implementation cycle presents an opportunity to address risks to and from a project before they happen.
This is likely to save considerable money in the future. For example, if landslide were to affect the farm road this would disrupt access to farmland and significantly reduce the community’s income. It would also cost the Fiji Government significant amounts of money to repair the road.
Given risk management measures were incorporated into the contractor’s instructions, the contractor’s capacity to understand the rationale behind and complete risk informed roads was increased. Involving the private sector in risk management is essential as they implement a high proportion of public investments.