Fiji reported its first case of novel coronavirus, COVID-19 on 19 March 2020 in Lautoka. On the same day, the Fijian Government announced the strongest border controls in Fijian history and rolled out sweeping measures to keep citizens safe. The Prime Minister announced border restrictions not only on mainland China, Italy, Iran, Spain and South Korea but also to foreign nationals who have been present in the United States of America, and all of Europe, including the United Kingdom, within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji. The PM also launched the Fijian Government COVID Safe Economic Recovery Plan.
On 15 May 2020, a mobile app called ‘careFIJI’ was developed under the digitalFIJI initiative that will harness phones Bluetooth technology to make any future contact tracing faster, easier, and more effective while protecting the privacy of the user. As of 6 August, careFiji has registered over 50,000 downloads. Fiji has had 55 confirmed COVID-19 cases and recorded two deaths. Fiji still maintains a strict travel restriction of foreign visitors and the nationwide curfew effective from March 30 is still ongoing.
UNDP's Offer 2.0
Building a new social contract
UNDP is supporting the Government in the following areas:
Institutional continuity of Fiji Parliament during COVID-19 and beyond: Technical assistance is being provided to ensure institutional continuity of Parliament despite COVID-19-related restrictions through the provision of ICT Equipment to enable virtual meetings of committees, virtual public consultations and budget discussions. Technical assistance for review and adaptation of parliamentary procedure to the new working context. Further support focused in increasing capacity of parliamentary scrutiny of government response to the pandemic.
In partnership with civil society, UNDP is supporting disability-friendly COVID-19 information dissemination including sign language interpretation for television news broadcasts to provide timely information to the deaf community on the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions/directives. Further support is being provided for video and editing equipment to continue developing and broadcasting informational segments that explain important subjects at a slowed pace, to ensure widespread comprehension, and provide online Q&As with the deaf community across Fiji.
Provision of technical capacities, ICT equipment and internet services to enable remote counselling for SGBV, mental health, child abuse. IT equipment enabled civil society organisation (CSO) partners to expand the helpline services and share the 24/7 work among more staff from home or safe space during curfews.
Supported the Fiji justice institutions with ICT equipment and internet services to allow continued provision of services, remote legal representation and digital connection of justice institutions.
Facilitation of locally led consultations on budget submissions, ensuring COVID-19 responses benefit to the most impacted and vulnerable stakeholders.
Provision of technical policy and advisory support on COVID-19 and corruption. An advisory note ‘COVID-19 and Corruption in the Pacific” has been prepared and widely distributed among Pacific Governments. A series of COVID-19 activities are being implemented, including in relation to addressing the procurement risks, promotion of business integrity and ethics;
Provision of trainings on protection of businesses against corruption with specific focus on youth entrepreneurs and women-owned enterprises;
Active promotion of integrity in the public service expected to culminate in a nation-wide anti-bribery campaign in line with SDG 16 targets;
Raising awareness of human-rights implications of corruption under COVID-19;
Developing corruption risk assessment training module for the Pacific in healthcare with Fiji among the target countries for validation and implementation.
Advocacy for introduction of right to information in the Pacific.
Capacity-building of Pacific journalists to report on and investigate anti-corruption and integrity issues is being planned, with specific focus on integrity impacts of COVID-19. A regional webinar is being developed along with planned assistance to media associations to include Fiji, Palau, Tonga and Samoa.
Provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training for the police particular importance during the COVID pandemic law enforcement, dealing with stressful situations, interface with people in hostile situations such as forced quarantine, de-escalation tactics, as well as crimes expected to rise during the pandemic period, such as sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), inter-community violence and drugs.
UNDP is supporting the Government in the following areas:
As part of COVID-19 reprogramming, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji has been supporting the Fiji Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) in protecting consumers rights including protection from price gouging, hoarding of essential commodities, rental hikes and evictions, contingency buying and ensuring stability in the supply of basic essential goods.
Support to the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in re-purposing the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) Project for Rural and Urban Fijians – a mobile integrated citizen rights, responsibilities and services awareness raising with delivery of government and CSO services to respond rapidly to the major health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 in Fiji.
Supporting the Fiji Ministry of Communications with the development of the contact tracing app careFIJI within a week had already been downloaded 30,500 times.
Supporting the UN Country Team in with the overall Fiji socio-economic assessment as well as specific technical inputs to pillar three and pillar five. In collaboration with AccLab, a sensemaking process took place to help map needs and potential solutions emerging from Fiji’s socio-economic assessments within a system thinking framework, to better formulate and position UNDP’s socio-economic response to COVID-19.
Rebalancing nature, climate and economy
UNDP is supporting the Government:
Supporting vulnerable communities to cope with the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis through training on value adding, basic business management, and diversifying skill sets to produce new products and services.
Developing innovative solutions and sustainable business models that support vulnerable communities to cope with COVID-19 impacts with local non-government organisations (NGOs) and social enterprises.
Supporting the South Pacific Tourism Organization to develop a regional policy framework for Sustainable Tourism in the Pacific.
Strengthening national institutional capacities to enhance natural resource management and conservation. This will strengthen community resilience given the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 including job security, food security, health and nutrition.
Supporting to make energy systems more usage efficient through renewable energy sources.
Support in ensuring ecosystem resilience mainly through reforestation.
For speed and scale
UNDP is supporting the Government:
Development of an app to facilitate oversight and engagement on COVID-19 responses and recovery budgets
Targeted support to ICT infrastructures to enable virtual working of parliamentary staff and members of Parliament, including 141 sitting of parliamentary committees, virtual public consultations and budget discussions.
Developed online marketplaces in Fiji
Working with the Fiji Corrections Service to establish a digital system whereby inmates could use video conferencing facilities to have ‘face-to-face’ meetings with their lawyers, have visitation time with their families and administrative appearances in court to overcome the challenge of lockdown and social distancing due to COVID-19.
Providing the Legal Aid Commission with video-conferencing and CCTV equipment to allow lawyers to provide remote counsel to clients, including those in detention, reducing the cost and time associated with travelling for face-to-face meetings. CCTV for protection of both lawyers and clients to provide a video record of interviews and interactions.
Digitizing the legal library for justice professionals to provide judges, magistrates and lawyers with access to Fiji law reports online, as well as an increased library of digital legal reference books to allow for access to legal information remotely.
Increasing the Video-Recorded Interview systems and IT infrastructure for Sexual Offences Units in the Police to improve the quality and validity of evidence, and provide the opportunity of remote representation for vulnerable victims and witnesses to reduce time, travel, and unnecessary presence in courtrooms and avoid re-traumatization.
Enhance the online presence of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission to improve access to information on basic human rights and provide an online system for filing, pursuing and tracking a complaint.
To reduce in-person interactions, which had been a central activity for civil society partners carrying out UNDP grants, priority was placed on converting outreach initiatives into remote engagement through the provision of IT equipment – mobile phones, tablets, laptops, to remove the need for exposure to clients for counselling and consultations. By taking on this expense directly, grantees were able to reallocate more funds for essential staff, including doctors and nurses for medical attention to respond to increase in SGBV cases, and counsellors to assist with the Child Helpline on behalf of the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and counselling helpline. These were supported with broadcast and print outreach engagements, including public service announcements and advertisements for the helplines.
As part of COVID-19 reprogramming support to the FCCC, UNDP has provided tablets to enhance the reach and capacity of its business inspectors, e-kiosks to extend the reach of its complaint portal and essential price listing to key high-consumer-traffic areas, and is supporting enhancements to both the FCCC’s complaint management system and essential goods pricing portal, all of which will be brought to together in the form of an Android App, greatly enhancing protection of social and economic rights, market and pricing stability, and fostering a culture of compliance amongst Fijian businesses.