Broken connections: State aid not cognisant of the struggles – FCOSS director

Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) director Vani Catanasiga stresses a point during the People’s Livelihood Survey Validation & PFM Engagement Planning Workshop. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

A lot of people living in the Nausori to Navua corridor have not been provided adequate assistance to address basic needs.

This, according to a Livelihood Impact Survey conducted by the Fiji Council of Social Services (FCOSS) in partnership with Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO) and support from the United Nations Development Programme.

FCOSS director Vani Catanasiga said the survey of 190 people had also revealed that the government’s connections with grassroots people and those most vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19, was “broken”.

“We heard that many who were surveyed were market vendors and handicraft sellers, including those from the Suva Flea Market who had lost three months’ worth of stock,” Ms Catanasiga said.

“One of them asked me to write a letter on her behalf to FNPF (Fiji National Provident Fund) to access support from her own account because there is nowhere else for her to turn to.

“A lot of what Government has offered is not cognisant of the struggles of women who are on the margins, especially those who work in the informal sector.

“And when Government comes up with blanket approaches, we would expect a lot of people will be left out and this survey has really confirmed that,” she said.

Ms Catanasiga said COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold had exposed the broken links in Government from community to national level.

“We are really trying to highlight this so that we can begin to work towards an integrated approach.

“A lot of what has been presented is what the communities have said to us – they don’t only want Government at village meetings, they also want CSOs and the private sector and if communities can see that, decision makers should be able to recognise it also.

“If we can’t sit at the same table to discuss these issues and work together to address them, the hardships faced by Fijians in ordinary communities and informal settlements are going to be insurmountable.”

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