27 Sep 2010

Fiji worried by high numbers below poverty line

2:43 pm on 27 September 2010

Fiji's Minister for Social Welfare, Dr Jiko Luveni, says she is concerned at the high level of poverty and its impact on a growing number of elderly.

She says in monetary terms, about 45 percent of Fiji's population lives below the poverty line, and includes the most vulnerable, such as young children and the elderly.

Dr Luveni says more research is needed into poverty levels in the country, given some poor families can still access food everyday through their gardens.

"We're actually looking at the definition of poverty here in Fiji. If its on monetary terms, then the 40, 45 percent is correct. But if you are looking at people living more in the rural areas, they are accessible to three square meals a day without money in their pockets."

Dr Jiko Luveni says the government does have family assistance schemes, monthly allowances and food vouchers available for those who qualify.