The redesign of the OFC Just Play Emergency Programme resources has reached the testing phase of its development journey.

The Just Play team in Fiji have played a pivotal role in responding to natural disasters around the Pacific, including Tropical Cyclone Winston in Fiji, the volcanic eruption in Ambae, Vanuatu and flooding in India.

With their extensive expertise, the team have revised the existing resources and expanded the suite of Emergency Programme materials as well as supporting the design of two new components – a Just Play Deployment Guide and a Just Play Emergency Preparedness Guide – a process which got underway in September 2020.

This week the team once again came together to start testing the material, both amongst themselves and with children at Namaka Primary School in Nadi, to ensure the redesign better addresses the needs of children following natural disasters in the Pacific.

OFC Head of Social Responsibility, Melissa Palombi, has been helping guide the redesign process on the ground in Fiji, and said the Emergency Programme has an important role to play in recovery which is why ensuring the effectiveness of the resources has been an important priority.

“The main objective of the Just Play Emergency Programme is to support the emotional recovery of children, to help them get back to their regular routine and back to normal. But it’s also there to communicate critical emergency messages too.

“It’s important for people to know how to keep their drinking water clean and safe, how to store their food, to be able to replant their gardens and what crops they should plant in those gardens, and we use children to help carry those messages to families and the communities,” Palombi said.

The Emergency Programme has been designed for delivery in a couple of different ways, depending on the type of emergency and the response required.

“It can be delivered in evacuation centres, they can also deliver it in communities right after a natural disaster has happened,” Palombi explained.

“What we like to do is follow the cycle of the emergency and the recovery process, then we move into schools, so we help to attract children back to schools and integrate the programme with teachers so that they can come back to school and feel safe after an emergency.”

The existence of the Just Play Emergency Programme has been supported by partners and donors which have contributed and allowed OFC to not only develop the programme, but to respond to emergencies across the Pacific.

“We work closely with the Australian and New Zealand Government, with UNICEF – who helped design some of the original curriculum components and support the roll-out, and the UEFA Foundation for Children.

“We’ve also worked with a lot of governments across the region, and the Ministry of Education in a lot of our countries has been pivotal in providing access to students and teachers and enabling us to go into the schools to work with children.”

The Emergency Programme redesign festival was held today, Friday 26 March, at Namaka Primary School, with the Fiji team reviewing the delivery and sessions over the coming days before it will be laid out and designed.

Following that, instructors and teams across the Pacific will be trained by the Fiji-based staff, who have the capacity to support the roll-out of future emergency programmes not just in Fiji, but across the Pacific region.