A COVID-19 special: ADRA helps 43,000 affected Fijians

ADRA Fiji Emergency coordinator Samisoni Loga and Senior Manager Christine Lemau sort out their distribution list. Picture: SUPPLIED

By LOSALINI BOLATAGICI Communications officer ADRA Fiji

ADRA Fiji provides food security and livelihood support to 8728 affected households nationwide during this COVID-19 crisis. Life has been pretty hard for many Fijians this year.

With a population of over 900,000, Fiji was still on the road to recovery from the first COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 when cyclones — TC Yasa and TC Ana struck again. An estimated 139,000 people in 31,0000 households were affected by the double cyclones and as people slowly rebuilt their lives, Fiji was again hit by the second wave of COVID-19 in April which caused and continues to contribute to job losses. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Fiji, a humanitarian and development NGO with the objective of improving the lives of the people, has been in the frontline to aid the needy.

Through a range of programs and initiatives, ADRA Fiji continues its work to address food security and support livelihoods in Fiji. While the second outbreak brought about many restrictions, it didn’t deter the team from delivering the much-needed assistance. During the COVID-19 crisis, as Fiji comes to a standstill, ADRA Fiji continued to offer assistance and came up with innovative ways of delivering this help to ensure no one is left behind.

Over 43,000 Fijians in 8728 affected households have so far been assisted by ADRA Fiji since the second outbreak through our COVID-19 and TC Yasa Response. A total of 2155 households with a population of over 10,000 were assisted through our newly secured funding as part of our emergency response.

These households were assisted with food kits, multi-purpose cash, agricultural kits and vegetable seeds and seedlings, including value-added kits for sustainable livelihood.

The focus has been on vulnerable groups such as women, elderly populations, people with disabilities, persons of diverse sexual orientations, gender identity and/or expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

Reaching out to affected communities In the urban centres where the impact of COVID-19 is severe, the need for food has been high as more job losses are experienced in the Central and Western Division.

ADRA Fiji has been working closely with community leaders, district officers and government ministries to identify those in need of food and they have been assisted with our food kits which contain basic food items. Those in containment zones were also assisted. ADRA Fiji also reached as far as the interior of Naitasiri, Yasawa Island and the Lau Group to provide assistance. Multi-purpose cash assistance through cash in an envelope and electronic cash transfer continues to be dispersed to address the immediate needs as our COVID-19 operation continues. This gives them the freedom to address the needs of their choice whether it is food, medicine, bills or transportation costs.

Impacting lives

The second COVID-19 outbreak has impacted many families nationwide. Shayal Shivika, whose husband lost his job at a Supermarket in Nadi last year is one of the families that we’ve assisted with cash through funding support from the ECHO in May. She said life has been pretty hard for them especially in sustaining their family with a three-year-old son to support.

Since her husband became unemployed last year, he had been doing odd jobs, going from house to house, in order to meet his family’s needs.

“My husband goes house to house to look for a job whether it is to clean the garden or cut grass, it was enough to buy our weekly groceries. Sometimes he is paid $5 a day but at least we are getting something as we have a young child to look after,” Ms Shivika said. But with the restriction of movement since April, it has been really hard to get jobs and they have been trying to get by each day.

“I’d like to thank ADRA and the EU for their support. We had nothing and the money we received came at a time we needed it the most. “We received our assistance through M-Paisa and we used it to buy our groceries. It has been really hard for us lately and we are grateful to be considered for this assistance.

Also in the Western Division, 72 food packs were taken across to Yasawa after a request was received from the Commissioner’s Western’s Office. The people of Yasawa depended on tourism for their livelihood and were in dire need of food.

The food kits were given under the Strengthening Early Recovery Food Security and Livelihood project funded by the NZ Aid Program.

Building COVID-19 resilience

People of Navatulevu in Nadi didn’t feel much of the impact in the second outbreak thanks to the support from the Australian Government through the Australian High Commission in Fiji.

The village Youth Group, made up of tourism workers who lost their job due to COVID-19, was assisted under the Cash for Cultivation Initiative which helped them to cultivate and toil the land for food security and a sustainable livelihood. One of the criteria to qualify for the $200 assistance is to cultivate at least one acre of land. “We didn’t feel the full brunt of the second outbreak unlike when we were first affected because we had our farm to fall back on.

Even during the lockdown, we were getting our food supplies from our farm,” Taina Tanoa, the Youth Group secretary said. “From the fi rst $100 received in the fi rst tranche, we bought some seeds and kept the rest. Together with the second tranche of payment, we have bought PCV pipes in order to have water access on the farm. It’s quite hard to fetch water from the village to water our vegetables using wheelbarrows, so with the installation of pipes, we will have water supply coming into the farm.”

The Cash for Cultivation Initiative is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Those who made it happen

The management of ADRA Fiji is grateful for the continuous support from the donors allowing the team to carry out the much needed response.

Special appreciation to the European Union (through the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations -ECHO), Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian High Commission to Fiji, New Zealand’s Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Fiji Mission of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Trans Pacifi c Union Mission, Latter-Day Saint Charities, World Vision NZ, Tearfund NZ, Sanitarium Food Company Australia, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and Erasito Beca Consultant.

This is in addition to the support from our ADRA Global Network namely ADRA International, ADRA Germany, ADRA Austria, ADRA New Zealand and ADRA Australia.

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