Women of Sigatoka, Fiji making rocket stoves (Photo: UNDP/Small Grants Programme)

Amb. Vishvas Sapkal, High Commissioner of India

Amb. Velelo Kwepile, Charge d’Affaires, South African High Commission

The Director, Ms Selai Korovusere, Ministry of Women, Children, and Poverty Alleviation

Selected grantees and project partners

Small Grants Programme National Steering Committee

Members of the media corps

Ladies and gentlemen:

Bula vinaka and warm greetings to you all!

This event marks the official start of the upscaling of the Rocket Stove project, which aims to empower rural women in Fiji. This goal of this initiative is to improve the livelihoods of women and their families in rural households through the provision of ‘rocket stoves’ and access to income-generating opportunities.

The project’s success since 2014, under the leadership of the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, had seen an increase in requests from women’s groups, particularly in rural areas, to gain access to this innovative equipment. Owing to this bottom-up demand, we are pleased to scale up this initiative.

A significant percentage of Fijians in rural areas relies on open fire cooking. This is part of everyday life in communities, experienced by most households. As a process, however, it hasn’t seen much innovation over the decades. The introduction of ‘rocket stoves’ has brought much needed efficiency to the centuries-old routine. These stoves use less fuelwood, increase efficiency through shorter cooking time, and reduce or eliminate smoke from open fire cooking.

Following the initial success, the Fiji Government sought assistance from the India – Brazil – South Africa (IBSA) Fund, to broaden the benefits of this innovation. The upscaled project targets 1,500 beneficiaries in rural communities on the two main islands and in maritime communities. Activities include training to construct rocket stoves and support for rural livelihoods.

With approval of the IBSA Fund, the donors engaged the UN Office for South-South Cooperation to deliver this project through the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji.

We are pleased to note that project implementation is facilitated by UNDP’s GEF Small Grant Programme, which has much experience in engaging with grassroots communities and managing community-based project. A call for proposals from the Small Grants Programme has yielded three NGO partnerships that will help deliver this project over the next months. A fourth NGO partner will continue to work with the SGP team to be ready to start implementing activities before the year-end.

We are pleased to partner with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in this important project. It adds to a growing array of joint projects and initiatives with the Ministry, all of which focus on delivering tangible services and benefits to communities across Fiji. I take this opportunity to thank the Ministry for its leadership of this initiative. It speaks volumes about Government’s commitment to bettering the lives of Fijians.

Through this project, we are also happy to support Fiji in a growing number of environmental and climate change initiatives.

Our thanks also go to the representative of the IBSA Fund; High Commissioners of India and South Africa who are present here today, UN Office for South-South Cooperation, and other partners who made this initiative possible.

With such support network and concerted efforts of all partners, we are on the right path to support communities in raising their living standards and adapting climate change.

Vinaka vakalevu!

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