Women and men in eight rural communities in four districts of Fiji’s Western Division became more aware of their rights to legal, social and economic services provided by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, and the Fiji Legal Aid Commission. Many of them were then able to immediately apply for those services which will make difference in their lives.
People in rural communities are often not aware of the services available to them by the Government. Sometimes it is difficult for them to travel all the way to a town where government offices are located and submit all documents required to apply for these services.
The awareness of rights and delivery of legal, social and economic services were brought to the communities through the ‘Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) Mobile Service Delivery’. The REACH Project is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, and the Fiji Legal Aid Commission supported by the Government of Japan and UNDP.
The mobile teams, which consist of officers from the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Fiji Legal Aid Commission also including other government officers and UNDP staff, travel to rural, urban and maritime communities across Fiji and raise awareness of rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, and deliver legal, social and economic services provided by the Fiji Government at their doorstep.
Faiyaz Ali from Kulukulu settlement in Sigatoka, was among those that welcomed the REACH Mobile Service Delivery in the district. The session was conducted in the evening to allow the working community to also participate.
“I found it useful to our community people. I encouraged some of them to consult the officers who are here. I will also share this with others who could not come today. I appreciate the service delivery that came to our community,” said Ali.
REACH Mobile Service Delivery was also undertaken in Nadrau Village, in the District of Nadarivatu. Nadrau Village is remotely located in the highlands of Viti Levu and difficult to access that requires about two hours by vehicle from the nearest town of Tavua, heading through rough terrains.
Nadrau Village headman, Seru Raicula, said, “This is the first time for Nadrau village to receive a joint visitation by the Fiji Legal Aid Commission and the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.”
“We are blessed to have such services delivered to our doorsteps and we look forward to more similar visitation by Government of Fiji ministries and departments,” added Raicula.
The REACH Mobile Service Delivery commenced in July 2015 and has been delivering services in the Central, Northern and Eastern Divisions. It has now made its first mission to the Western Division, as communities continue to recover from Tropical Cyclone Winston that occurred early last year.
Commissioner Western, Manasa Tagicakibau said, “The REACH mobile team met 299 people in eight communities in the four Districts of Sigatoka, Lautoka, Ba and Nadarivatu in the Western Division during its four-day mission.”
He added, “This was much needed assistance to people to move forward. It empowered them, particularly for those that needed it the most but did not know how to access the services.”
The REACH Mobile Service Delivery will be strengthened by mobilizing the REACH Buses specially designed and equipped in Fiji for such service delivery. Three Fijian Made buses, one of which was publicly introduced last November in Suva, will provide service delivery more effectively using the built-in meeting rooms and various tools and technology. This will cater for travel in the coming months to communities in the Central, Northern and Western Divisions, delivering services to people and leaving no one behind.
Last year, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) officially came into force. Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. The REACH Project will contribute particularly to achieving Goal Five that is, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and Goal 16 that is, to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.
The REACH Project and its mobile service delivery approach to communities, attempts to reach the furthest behind first, and aims to promote peace building, social cohesion and inclusiveness through awareness of rights, access to services, provision of legal advice and institutional capacity building in Fiji.
The mobile service team met 299 people (115 women and 184 men) from 8 communities in 4 districts (Sigatoka, Lautoka, Ba and Nadarivatu) in the Central Division.
The mobile service team delivered 425 services (253 to women and 172 to men) which was comprised of: Department of Social Welfare delivered 253 services (140 to women and 113 to men); Department of Women delivered 92 services (85 to women and 7 to men); and the Fiji Legal Aid Commission delivered 80 services (28 women and 52 men).