Suva, Fiji – Women, men and youths from three of Suva’s urban communities, Jittu Estate Veiquwawa, Wailea settlement and Tamavua-i-Wai settlement, actively engaged during evening sessions in the awareness raising and service delivery recently undertaken by the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project.
The communities became more aware of their social, economic and legal rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji and immediately accessed services associated with these rights. The services were provided by the officers from the Ministry of Children, Women and Poverty Alleviation; Legal Aid Commission; Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission; Fiji Police Force; and other related government agencies coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji.
Several people living in urban areas face specific challenges when accessing government services. Some may not be able to visit the government office during opening hours if they are employed, if they are taking care of sick family members at home or if they are not aware of the services they are entitled to.
Shakuntala Wati was among other participants in Wailea settlement, who utilized the mobile service. She works at a food processing factory and came to the session after her work hours.
“I and my husband came to know that he will be eligible to the social pension scheme soon. And so, he talked with the officer how to prepare for his application. It is a very useful service,” she said.
People appreciated the recent change in the provision of the social pension scheme, in which the eligible age of persons expanded from 65 years and above, and with the increased allowance of FJD$100 per month.
Mr. Pio Sovalevu, Community Police Coordinator for Jittu Estate Veiquwawa said that this was very useful for people in his community, many of whom may be eligible to and could use the services but did not know their rights and the services they could access. He was particularly impressed that the mobile service delivery team came right to the doorstep and joined in with his community and families in the evening, he felt this was a very clear demonstration of the priority focus the government has on delivery of services to all Fijians.
This is an initiative of the REACH Project that 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. It is being implemented by UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, and the Legal Aid Commission and supported by the Government of Japan and UNDP.
First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Fiji, Mr Tomoaki Miyamoto joined the team in Tamavua-i-Wai settlement. He said, “I witnessed the needs of this mobile service delivery approach and the positive changes made in people’s lives since the Project commenced in 2015.”
“The Government of Japan, through the REACH Project, is proud of supporting Fijian people and the Fiji Government who are passionately contributing to Fiji’s sustainable development.”
A total of 204 people (106 women and 98 men) participated in the mobile sessions conducted in the three communities.
UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Country Director and Head of Regional Policy and Programme, Bakhodir Burkhanov, participated at an evening session in Wailea settlement. He said, “The REACH Project was designed and is being implemented in full alignment to Fiji’s socio-political, economic and cultural context.”
“This model offers much inspiration and learning to other countries in its overarching focus on putting people at the centre of development, and reaching the furthest behind first.”
The REACH Project supports Fiji’s commitment to achieving Sustainable Development Goals, particularly to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build eﬀective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels (Goal 16); and to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls (Goal 5).