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KUMAMOTO, Japan – October 25, 2019: 10pm (Nuku’alofa Times):Emergency and permanent housing needs for thousands of members of the Mashiki, community whose homes were devastated by the double earthquakes of 2016, were successfully managed through an innovative partnership of central and local governments, and the private sector.

Pacific island governments, some of which have struggled to complete housing programs for victims of cyclones over the past four years, should take a page from the  recovery book.

Journalists and trainers in the Association for Promotion of International Cooperation (APIC) Japan Journalism Fellowship visited housing projects implemented after the earthquakes and saw first-hand the work that has been done.

One of the model houses built to withstand natural hazards. Photo: NUKU’ALOFA TIMES

Both projects show successful partnerships built among government, the council and the private sector.

While the temporary housing project solved emergency housing needs of those displaced by damage caused by the two earthquakes, the public housing project will serve those who do not have permanent houses to return to.

Government worked with the Kumamoto Council and partners, including construction companies, to build 1,562 houses in 2016 for use as temporary shelters, said Mashiki Town Life Rebuilding Assistance Division official Mr Jun Ishibashi.

“This was to be a temporary housing for them and once they have built their homes they return to them,” he said. “For those who do not have permanent homes they stay here and await the availability of public housing flats that they can move into and pay rent.”

To date 215 houses are being occupied. A total of 671 public housing units are being built in 21 locations around Mashiki and are scheduled for occupancy by mid-2020 after which the temporary houses will be demolished.

Public houses now being rented within the Mashiki Town municipality. Photo: NUKU’ALOFA TIMES

Mashiki Town Public Housing Division official Mr Kiyoshi Mizuguchi said the public housing houses have been built with consideration of elderly and the disabled.He said the project will cater for low income earners who need to rent.

Fiji is still struggling to cater for the housing needs of those on the outer islands of Koro, the Yasawas and areas of Ra following the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston in 2016.

Tonga is also still working on completing housing needs after Cyclone Ian in 2014, which hit Ha’apai, and Cyclone Gita last year.

  • Iliesa Tora is part of the APIC Japan Journalism Fellowship in Kumamoto this week.

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