15 Sep 2020

UN underlines access to services in rural Fiji

9:16 pm on 15 September 2020

The United Nations says it has partnered with Fiji's government to ensure communities in remote areas of the country continue to access essential services amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sigatoka River, Fiji.

Sigatoka River, Fiji. Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

The UN's Pacific representative, Sanaka Samarasinha, was in Savusavu last week with officials from the Ministry for Women reaching out to those affected by the pandemic in Vanua Levu.

Samarasinha said access to these services would help counter the impact of the Covid crisis on poverty, food security, nutrition, education outcomes and gender-based violence.

"We've understood what the impact is. We've also understood the impact will keep changing. It will keep evolving because this crisis is sadly far from over. So we need to keep the finger on the pulse but also now most importantly we need to coordinate the response as well."

Samarasinha said the greatest impact was on the most vulnerable with significant intergenerational implications.

Samarasinha said the partnership had presented him with ideas on what "we as the UN can do more and what we can do better for the communities".

He applauded the ministry's initiative in spearheading such outreach events to help the affected communities

He said last week's visit to the north included other government departments and civil societies, and provided services to people in Savusavu under the ministry's REACH mobile service delivery programme.

Samarasinha said the UNDP had been on Vanua Levu for the past two weeks providing services to the communities and the response had been overwhelming.

"We have the elderly people and those with special needs coming to the venue to make use of the services provided and we're glad the ministry has organised this to help the communities who are affected by Covid-19," he said.

"Loss of jobs as a result of Covid-19 means financial challenges of travelling, so this event provides services for them and we also have the social welfare team here and the medical people to help.

"We also have civil societies here, so basically the services provided have been brought closer to the people and it's really great and this program has been funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)."