Suva, Fiji – The Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project which set out a target of reaching 4,000 Fijians has managed to reach more than double the targeted figure in facilitating citizen’s access to essential Government services.
In its recent Lessons Learning workshop, stakeholders of the Fiji REACH Project heard that since the inception of the Project in July 2015, the Project has provided awareness raising and service delivery to all 14 Provinces.
Fiji REACH is a project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji and funded by the Government of Japan.
The Project partners, led by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and the Legal Aid Commission, conduct awareness raising sessions on the social, economic and legal rights enshrined in the 2013 Constitution of the Republic of Fiji and then provide direct access to the services associated with these rights.
In the opening address, the Acting Director Legal Aid Commission, Shahin Ali praised the innovative approach of the Project by delivering essential services directly to the people.
“This Project enables Fijians to access certain services instantaneously by taking these services to the very doorsteps of rural, urban, and maritime communities”, said Ali.
He added, “Keeping in line with the Government policy, we are indeed “leaving no one behind”. In this case we are leaving no Fijian behind in our pursuit to ensure that we empower as many as possible, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.”
Highlighting the importance of collaboration, Ali acknowledged the partnership that was leveraged through the Project as one of its successes.
“This has been made possible through the coordinated and collaborative effort of several key stakeholders. I acknowledge the work of the Ministry of Women and in particular, the Minister for Women, Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, and the Permanent Secretary and the UNDP for their support and expertise, and of course, the Government and People of Japan for the funding.”
The implementation of the project includes the facilitation of mobile delivery of social, economic and legal services. This is delivered through a ‘mobile office’, custom designed and equipped to provide social services for the general public, who cannot otherwise easily access it.
These services include the registration of births, deaths and marriages, banking facilities for financial literacy through the different banks, legal services through the Legal Aid Commission and others.
In 2017, a wedding ceremony was conducted in the REACH bus at their remote village in Namosi Province on the main island. A formal marriage registration in Fiji gives the couple legally recognized status, a key requirement when applying for probate — the legal and financial processes involved in dealing with property, money and possessions in the event of a deceased partner or designating the partner as a nominee or beneficiary under Fiji’s superannuation fund the Fiji National Provident Fund, or registration in the Vola ni Kawa Bula (VKB) for iTaukei communities.
Echoing the statements made by the Acting Director Legal Aid Commission, the Programme Manager for the REACH Project, Andrew Harrington, provided key delivery aspects of the project during its implementation period.
“In 2018, we set an output target to reach 4,000 Fijians, we exceeded our target by reaching 8,787 Fijians, 3,019 were women, 2,797 were men, and 2,971 were children”, said Harrington.
“In terms of service delivery, we set an output target of 4,000 Fijians to be served, in actual terms we served 20,679 where 12,175 were women, and 8,522 were men.”
“Since the Fiji REACH inception in July 2015, it has provided awareness raising and service delivery to all 14 provinces including Rotuma, a total of 956 communities in 139 districts.”