1.?????NEW AGREEMENT TO BOOST BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN?- Government has signed off an agreement that will see more entrepreneurship opportunities made available to women around the country.
2.?????NEW PUBLICATION TO BOOST MANGROVE CONSERVATION EFFORTS?- The launch of a first of its kind publication dedicated towards protecting Fiji?s mangrove resources demonstrates the continuous commitment by all stakeholders to preserve the maritime environment and mangroves.
3.?????NAITASIRI STUDENTS ACCESS NEW LEARNING FACILITIES?- For the young students of Nakorosule District School in the province of Naitasiri, the recent provision of chairs and tables to the school is an opportunity to influence more students to attend classes.
4.?????FIJI FARES WELL IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND MITIGATION?- The Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management & Pacific Climate Change Roundtable underway in Nadi is timely with Fiji experiencing an increase in the number of hurricanes and cyclones almost every year in the last five years.
1?NEW AGREEMENT TO BOOST BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN
Government has signed off an agreement that will see more entrepreneurship opportunities made available to women around the country.
The agreement which was ?sealed between the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, Courts Fiji Limited and the South Pacific Business Development (SPBD)? is designed to promote women entrepreneurs in the country. Once in effect, this agreement will make new economic projects and business opportunities more accessible.
The Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni said this new development broadens the scope of opportunities that women in the country should take advantage of.
?The new partnership will create economic opportunities for women to venture into new business opportunities. This initiative will empower them with the necessary tools to become financially independent and improve their livelihoods and that of their families?, Minister Luveni said.
?We are thankful to Courts Fiji Limited and South Pacific Business Development for this partnership that promotes the economic empowerment of women in Fiji,? Dr Luveni said.
While signing the agreement, Courts Fiji Limited director marketing Mr Anil Senewiratne reiterated that the agreement will also enable women to buy products from Courts on discounted prices.
?In the initial start of this partnership last year we had already conducted more than 30 sewing trainings programs which have benefited 450 women in rural areas to develop sewing skills. With the start of the sewing machine program, we have realised that the women have so much potential in starting their own business and through this agreement they can now purchase the equipment for their businesses from Courts at highly discounted prices,? Mr Senewiratne said.
Interested applicants will have to register with the South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) who will then assess their needs and challenges and will then present them with vouchers identifying them as eligible candidates for the program. Once eligible, these women are able to purchase equipment for business ventures.
?These are equipment like brush cutters, sewing machines, microwave, deep freezers, cooking stoves along with farming tools. The SPBD will give them a voucher, they will show that voucher and get the product from Courts and start making money out of it. SPBD will be collecting the payments and providing the business training to the clients. We are confident that like the sewing machine program this initiative will also grow from strength to strength,? Mr Senewiratne added.
2?NEW PUBLICATION TO BOOST MANGROVE CONSERVATION EFFORTS
The launch of a first of its kind publication dedicated towards protecting Fiji?s mangrove resources demonstrates the continuous commitment by all stakeholders to preserve the maritime environment and mangroves.
This was pointed out by the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources permanent secretary Mr Tevita Boseiwaqa when he joined officials from both the public and private sector in launching the ?A field guide to the mangrove and sea-grass species of Fiji? publications in Suva.
Mr Boseiwaqa said that publication reinforces the need for a collective commitment towards maintaining Fiji?s mangroves and other marine flora. He said that the publication which also acts as a guide highlights the importance of mangroves to the communities and the pacific region.
?This guide serves as an important tool for the Fijian government agencies such as the Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry, Ministry of Fisheries and Forestry and the department of environment that intend to obtain mangrove and sea-grass information,? Mr Boseiwaqa said.
The Ministry of Lands will closely work with the various stakeholders in ensuring that they achieve government?s goal of achieving higher economic growth while maintaining sustainability.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature director Mr Taholo Kami said this joint approach from regional partners and local conservationist shows the growing work towards conserving mangrove ecosystems not only in Fiji but throughout the region.
The launch also featured a documentary that showed the importance of mangroves to the communities of Maramiske passage in the Solomons Islands.
The projects was joint effort of the University of the South Pacific, the Department of Environment, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Mangrove Ecosystem for Climate Change Adaption?and Livelihood ( MESCAL) Fiji Project.
3?NAITASIRI STUDENTS ACCESS NEW LEARNING FACILITIES
For the young students of Nakorosule District School in the province of Naitasiri, the recent provision of chairs and tables to the school is an opportunity to influence more students to attend classes.
This was expressed by both the teachers and the students at the school when the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development visited the remote school to present the students with the new classroom furniture.
The school?s chairman Ratu Semi Draunimasi pointed out that both parents and students often raised the need to have new furniture for the students. This new development, he said, will now have to ?bear fruits?.
?Government has done its part in ensuring that Fiji is a knowledge based society by providing the most basic necessities however it?s time for parents to encourage our children to prioritise education for the development of our younger generation,? Mr Draunimasi said.
Naitasiri provincial administrator Semi Kuru highlighted Government?s commitment towards education and pointed out that making education accessible to all Fijians is a cornerstone of the Bainimarama Government reforms.
4?FIJI FARES WELL IN DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND MITIGATION
The Joint Meeting of the 2013 Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management & Pacific Climate Change Roundtable underway in Nadi is timely with Fiji experiencing an increase in the number of hurricanes and cyclones almost every year in the last five years.
The Ministry of Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics permanent secretary, Pita Wise said there was an urgent need for a more integrated approach in addressing natural disasters and climate change as Government did not have all the resources.
Mr Wise said the partnership between multilateral and bilateral donors, the private sector, the civil society organisations, communities and the government plays a crucial role in ensuring a well coordinated assistance to people affected by natural disasters.
?If things are coordinated well, then it?s easier for us to be able to address things when there is a disaster. The two issues here are mitigation and adaptation. We should not wait for a disaster to happen and then we react. This forum teaches us to put into play some of the strategies to minimise the risks and losses,? Mr Wise said.
Mr Wise highlighted that due to Fiji?s preparedness for Tropical Cyclone Evan in December last year, there was no loss of lives when disaster struck.
?During cyclone Evan, that struck Samoa and then Fiji, we were ready. We had already created that awareness and there was no loss of lives so we were fortunate. It is important to have the awareness as it is a collective approach.
?If we all participate, we minimise the risk, which leads to less cost not only to the government but also the communities. We can rehabilitate very quickly. The lesson to be learnt is as to how we can build strategies so that we are ready for a disaster,? Mr Wise added.
The permanent secretary reiterated the need for all the stakeholders in disaster risk management and climate change to work together.
?Government does not have all the resources to address all the issues. There are things like housing, food during the disaster, emergency provision so if we all work together, we?d know what to do. When there is a disaster, everybody should move and be prepared in terms of food, water- that is a well coordinated approach.
?The cost could have been more because of Cyclone Evan but because we coordinated very well and because of the awareness created, the risks were less. There were damage done but it could have been more if we were not prepared.?
Mr Wise added that Fiji is faring well in addressing the challenges faced by disasters because most of the country?s preparedness and mitigation strategies are legislated.
?We have the Environment Management Acts, building codes- we can?t just go around and build houses, you must follow the code and that reduces the risk of houses being destroyed. The legislation is in place to help us in terms of coordination when a disaster strikes.
?The mechanism in place is very clear so when the Prime Minister declares an emergency, everybody knows what to do. ?DISMAC would be activated. For us, the coordination machinery is already in place to allow us to respond to disaster in an efficient way,? Mr Wise stated.
He also added that the recently launched Post Disaster Needs Assessment for Tropical Cyclone Evan complements the commitment set by the Fijian Government towards disaster risk management.
?This is the first time we have done the post disaster needs assessment. The assessment reflects not only the damages, but it shows the impact of the disaster on the health sector, education sector and on the economy as a whole. It looks at a bigger picture. The assessment tells us of the losses to the nation,? Mr Wise said.
The PDNA takes a more long term strategic approach on how best to mitigate, adapt and minimise the risk from future disasters.
The total economic value of the disaster effects caused by the TC Evan is estimated at around $194.9 million equivalent to about 2.6 per cent of Fiji?s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).