Food Banks: Public-Private Partnerships for More Resilient Outer Islands, Yasawas, Fiji

Brokering of a public private partnership to support the development of Food Banks and savings clubs in remote communities in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Fiji is ranked as the 14th most exposed country in the world to natural disasters. Remote communities in the Yasawa islands have are particularly exposed to both climate change and slow onset events such as El Niňo, so it is particularly important that these communities are food secure in the face of disasters. A Food Bank project was implemented in two villages in the Yasawas, Kese and Soso, to ensure that members of communities had a ready supply of food and water during and after a disaster event, with risk-resilient crops and farming techniques introduced to help the communities become more resilient to climate change and disasters.

Training was provided to agriculture extension officers and members of the two communities on resilient crops and food storage, building on traditional knowledge. Training was delivered though existing farmer knowledge hubs and used existing demonstration plots to share risk-sensitive farming information and technology. This included mixed cropping, use of resilient crops and organic approaches. As part of the project, communities were provided with seeds, root crop supplies, seedlings, water tanks and water pumps. Financial management training was also provided and Food Bank surplus was sold to provide extra income with money banked to create an emergency fund for future disasters, which was saved in a Women’s Savings Club.

Food banks were initially established in Kese and Soso villages in the Yasawas, and were subsequently replicated in 5 communities in Magodro District, in the interior of Ba (from the coastal to highland contexts) by the Ministry of Agriculture and Western Division Office. The project is also already being replicated as a public private partnership between Vinaka Fiji and the Western Division Office in other villages in the Yasawas

Two food banks were delivered through public private sector partnerships benefiting 141 households (652 individuals) in Soso and Kese villages. Inhabitants are now able to harvest new crops (for example traditional yam) and replant faster than after previous cyclone events.

Additional impacts reported include:

  • improved nutrition as a result of increased crop diversity;
  • enhanced financial literacy and access to emergency funds as a result of bank accounts;
  • improved access to water during dry spells; and
  • enhanced adaptive capacity resulting from the extensive training provided to farmers.

Additional funds from sale of the crops to resorts and markets was put into a Women’s Savings Club, which could then be accessed by the club to support recovery efforts from disaster events.

Replication: the initiative is efficient, with high potential for replication given that costs were low and impacts high. This is as a result of a heavy reliance on local expertise, the community driven nature of the whole initiative, and leveraging off existing partnerships particularly with private sector partners. The local government and private sector are now applying this approach to other communities in Magodro district, and in the Yasawas, and sharing the approach more widely by including the initiative in leadership training.

The Ministry of Health is also scaling up the initiative to eight new communities to secure fresh food for the community with corresponding health benefits for the community (reducing reliance on canned food/noodles) and to generate income for the villages.

Lessons learnt
Ensuring the most appropriate location and design of food banks. Whilst the food banks were effective for providing food after TC Winston, the storage houses suffered damage.