7 Feb 2019

UN-backed rollout of services to remote Pacific communities

2:25 pm on 7 February 2019

A UN-supported rollout of social services to remote Pacific communities is targeting 1,000 people in Tonga this year.

The REACH mobile service, offers legal aid, family protection, electoral roll registration and other assistance to rural and vulnerable groups.

It launched in Tonga this week and expanded to Samoa in January.

Tevita Dawai, a deputy programme manager with the UN Development Programme, said its pilot in Fiji had reached more than 37,000 people since 2015.

He said people in remote communities often faced obstructions to basic services like legal aid.

"There's no legal representative in Rotuma, one of the furthest islands in Fiji, so they will have to wait for a monthly visit by the judicial department and DPP and also the legal aid commission in Fiji, to have a rural court sit."

Mr Dawai said the Fiji pilot had been successful and the UNDP was trying to replicate REACH in other Pacific Island countries and to Asia.