Suva, Fiji – Three new custom built buses were commissioned today in Suva that will allow the Government of Fiji to deliver social, economic and legal services to remote communities and raise awareness of Fijians of the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji.
The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Legal Aid Commission, the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) commissioned three REACH Mobile Service Delivery Buses as part of the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project that aims to promote peace building, social cohesion and inclusiveness.
The buses are custom designed and equipped to support the Government to undertake effective service delivery to rural and urban communities in Fiji, leaving no one behind – be it a child, an elderly person or a person living with disabilities.
Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation said in her Welcoming Address, “Geography and challenges faced by our clients limit their ability to access our services. Some live with disabilities, some have no access to affordable or timely transportation and some have absolutely no idea what kind of services are available for them. It is in this realization of the challenge in front of us that the REACH Project was born. Where people could not come to us, we decided to take our services to them.”
“Today’s occasion is very symbolic – through the Government of Japan’s financial assistance and the facilitation of the UNDP towards the REACH initiative we now have a strong platform to boost Government service delivery. Partnerships such as these go a long way in not only realizing our Ministerial mandate, they also forge our national efforts towards the realization of the sustainable development goals” the Minister emphasized.
Mr. Shahin Rafique Ali, Acting Director, Legal Aid Commission said, "The Legal Aid Commission is fully committed to creating awareness on the rights of Fijians in order to help them understand their legal rights and to also access the free legal services funded by the Fijian Government through the Legal Aid Commission.”
Mr Ali also said, “It is imperative that all Fijians have access to information on their rights, have access to government services, but more importantly, they must have access to these services, regardless of where they live. If they cannot come to us, we must go to them. We shall leave no one behind.”
The Project conducts awareness raising of the social, economic and legal rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, provides access to the services associated with these rights, and strengthens institutional capacity to deliver these services.
A mobile awareness raising and service delivery approach is undertaken to reach communities throughout all of Fiji with the focus to reach the furthest behind first. The mobile awareness raising and service delivery is undertaken by teams from the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, the Legal Aid Commission, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and UNDP. The Fiji Police Force have also recently joined the team. The ‘REACH Mobile Service Delivery Buses’ will support the team’s outreach across Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, and for maritime areas the teams will continue to travel by boats.
From September 2015 to March 2017, the mobile teams conducted awareness and service delivery to 132 communities in 28 rural districts in 10 of the 15 provinces in Fiji throughout Eastern, Northern, Western and Central Divisions. The mobile teams reached 3,138 people including 1,591 women, 1,379 men and 168 children. The mobile teams also delivered 2,388 services, 1,535 to women and 853 to men, such services that included advice on eligibility for poverty alleviation schemes, information on women’s empowerment, discussions on women and child rights, and legal advisory services.
H. E. Takuji Hanatani, Ambassador of Japan said in his Official Address, “The mobile service delivery by the REACH Project will also lift the spirit of Fijians, when they see that despite the remoteness of their dwelling the Government cares for them and their rights … with these buses we take the fight for women’s empowerment, access to legal and social services, and awareness of citizens’ rights preserved in the Constitution to all Fijians in the far and remote areas of the country. I reaffirm Japan’s commitment for providing continued assistance for the sustainable development of Fiji.”
Osnat Lubrani, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said in her Official Address, “Recently UNDP, in partnership with the Government of Fiji, undertook the Pacific launch of the global Human Development Report 2016, which is entitled ‘Human Development for Everyone’. Human development is all about human freedoms: freedoms to realize the full potential of every human life, not just of a few, nor of most, but of all lives. That is why as part of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda there is the recognition that the global goals and targets must be met ‘…for all nations and peoples and for all segments of society’, and to endeavor ‘to reach the furthest behind first’.”
“The Project REACH is ground breaking in being aligned with the Human Development Report 2016 strategy to best care for those furthest behind. Through Project REACH we look forward to supporting the delivery of tangible and sustainable human development benefits to Fijians around the country,” stated Ms Lubrani.
The three-year REACH Project supports the Government’s implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal Five to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and Goal 16 to promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies.
The project is being implemented by UNDP 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.
Tomoko Kashiwazaki, Communications and Advocacy Officer, tel: +679 3312500 / 9422193, email: firstname.lastname@example.org