1. GOVERNMENT ENCOURAGES INVESTMENT IN RENEWABLE ENERGY – Local and international stakeholders in the renewable energy sector converged for the Renewable Energy Investment Forum in Suva today.
2. NEW COLLABORATION FOR GENDER DEVELOPMENT – In the effort to expedite gender development in Fiji, the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation will embark on new areas of collaboration with its stakeholders.
3. DISTRICT REMINDED OF GOVERNMENT?S COMMITMENT TOWARDS IMPROVING EDUCATION – District representatives from the Serua Province were today reminded of government?s commitment towards developing education in the rural areas.
4. ?RURAL MILLIONAIRES? CONCEPT FOR KORO – Rural transformation through the agriculture sector using an integrated approach was recently witnessed when Commissioner Eastern Luke Moroivalu and representatives from all Government agencies visited the island of Koro in the Lomaiviti Group.
5. NUTRITION AND HEALTH IN FIJI REFLECTS ON THE HEALTHY ISLAND VISION (FEATURE) ? Twenty years ago, the first Pacific Health Ministers Meeting convened at Yanuca Island and the meeting gave birth to the Yanuca Declaration which encompasses several outcome statements.
6. MINISTER MEETS NAMOSI YOUTHS – The Minister for Youth and Sports Hon. Laisenia Tuitubou today met with youth groups from the districts of Veinuqa, Veivatuloa, Naqarawai and Wainikoroiluva in Namosi.
1 GOVERNMENT ENCOURAGES INVESTMENT IN RENEWABLE ENERGY
Local and international stakeholders in the renewable energy sector converged for the Renewable Energy Investment Forum in Suva today.
The forum was an opportunity to present new favourable conditions in Fiji for investing in renewable energy and engage with independent power producers (IPPs).
Project developers, Fijian based financial organisations and energy state-owned enterprises showcased some of the most advanced and promising renewable energy power sector investment opportunities and frameworks.
Opening the day-long forum this morning, the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Hon. Pio Tikoduadua said the Fijian Government?s integrated energy plan is focused and committed towards a new renewable energy path which demands a new development approach, innovative thinking and cooperative actions to address our current and future level of energy consumptions.
Minister Tikoduadua said for the past few years, about $1billion has been spent on fuel imports which is quite a massive amount considering the size of the Fijian economy.
?The intent is cross-cutting and geared towards strengthening Fiji?s energy security, encourage conservation techniques and technology, enhance environmental quality and economic vitality in public private partnership that will grow energy efficiency and productivity,? Minister Tikoduadua said.
?The integrated energy plan proposes to bring clean, reliable and affordable energy technology to the market place and make a difference in the everyday lives of our citizens by enhancing energy choice and their quality of life.?
The Minister highlighted the review of the National Energy Policy, which identified the need for clear and consistent energy objectives.
?There is a need for significant investment over the next decade estimated to be in the order of $1.5bn which cannot be financed by the public sector alone. Significant investments will be required from the private sector and local and international investors to ensure that government is able to accomplish its goals.
?The announcement in 2012 by the Fiji Commerce Commission of the increase in tariff from 23c to 33c per unit is indicative of Government?s encouragement for independent power production from the private sector to support the intent of using cleaner sources of energy in Fiji and to reduce reliance on fossil fuel.
Minister Tikoduadua added that Government needed the private sector?s support in energising this country with cleaner renewable energy sources by 2020.
The Renewable Energy Investment Forum was organised by the Department of Energy with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility funded Fiji Renewable Energy Power Project (FREPP).
2 NEW COLLABORATION FOR GENDER DEVELOPMENT
In the effort to expedite gender development in Fiji, the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation will embark on new areas of collaboration with its stakeholders.
?The Bainimarama-led government through its laws and policies is committed to making gender equality a reality?, said the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Hon Rosy Akbar said. ?The Ministry is in process of reviewing its current Memorandum of Understanding with the Fiji Police Force to address the gaps in the implementation of various Decrees namely the Domestic Violence Decree and Child Welfare Decree. This would strengthen the work around combatting of violence against women and children.?
?Likewise, the Ministry will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Ministry of I-Taukei Affairs to ensure a more targeted approach in addressing women?s economic empowerment. Similarly a Memorandum of Understanding will also be signed with faith-based organisations to collaboratively address gender-based violence within non-I-Taukei communities,? Minister Akbar said.
The Minister reiterated that work in solidarity is essential towards gender advancement in Fiji.
?The women of Fiji cannot wait to welcome the success of the gender initiative. With the support of its partners, the Ministry will work diligently to ensure the effective implementation of Fiji?s National Gender Policy, which will involve gender mainstreaming through gender sensitization of the whole of government machinery.
?This will be achieved by working together with wide range of partners particularly the women?s NGOs, private sectors, faith based organisations and development partners. Our children and young people cannot be singing this same song of lack of progress on the Beijing Platform for Action, 20 years from today. We owe it to them to make it happen during our time in leadership and leave a rich legacy of commitment with action.
?It is a strong mandate to enable us to work together to progress gender development. The Ministry acknowledges the international development partners for their continued support through funding and technical assistance. I also thank our corporate partners and women?s NGO partners for being there when the Ministry needs them,? Minister Akbar explained.
3 DISTRICT REMINDED OF GOVERNMENT?S COMMITMENT TOWARDS IMPROVING EDUCATION
District representatives from the Serua Province were today reminded of government?s commitment towards developing education in the rural areas.
This message was highlighted by the Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management Hon. Joeli Cawaki at the opening of the Serua Provincial Council meeting held at Sauniveiuto village in Serua today.
Mr Cawaki said government was working towards improving the standard of living of people by offering bus vouchers, scholarships and development of schools.
?For government to carry out the various developments for a province is not any easy task which was why the people of the province needed to manage their resources, revenue and time well,? Mr Cawaki said.
?The province of Serua can only move forward through accountable and transparent leaders,? Mr Cawaki said.
He encouraged district representatives to work with government in ensuring the progress of developments within the province.
?This year we plan to introduce the development plan from 2015-2020. This plan will focus on improving health services, infrastructure, educations and major developments within the various districts.
Turaga na Vunivalu of Serua Ratu Peni Latianara extended his support towards government’s plan in improving the livelihoods of Fijians living in rural and maritime communities.
Other issues highlighted during the meeting were good governance, climate change and the protection of natural resources.
4 ?RURAL MILLIONAIRES? CONCEPT FOR KORO
Rural transformation through the agriculture sector using an integrated approach was recently witnessed when Commissioner Eastern Luke Moroivalu and representatives from all Government agencies visited the island of Koro in the Lomaiviti Group.
Mr Moroivalu said that the main purpose of the trip was to visit the existing projects on the island and to look at a way forward for the people of Koro. He added that this would be in line with the intentions of the Minister for Agriculture Hon. Inia Seruiratu to see rural communities be transformed from subsistence to semi commercial and commercial level farmers.
?The team discussed their plans with all the villagers and focused on ?THE RURAL MILLIONAIRE CONCEPT? whereby farmers are advised to work on an integrated farming plan which will assist them in becoming millionaires with a span period of five to ten years,? he said.
?They have embraced the plan wholeheartedly as the villagers need to fully utilise the land to reach their goal in the next 5 to 10 years.
The plan includes Yasi planting for a long period, Yaqona intended for medium term results and Tausala variety of Dalo or Taro and Water Melon as short term crops to which income can be generated at a much faster pace.
?This integrated farming plan has been formed in such a way for farmers to reach commercial level and become self-employed to sustain their livelihood,? Mr Moroivalu said.
?Farmers around the country and particularly in Taveuni are earning good money by leasing land for farming thus the farmers from Koro can do it as well if they work in partnership with the Government for technical advice and support.
?In the next five to ten years, there will be lots of economic activities and development generated from this farming concept together with infrastructural development on the island,? Mr Moroivalu said.
Minister Seruiratu had earlier this year highlighted that through the Ministry of Agriculture?s Annual Corporate Plan 2015, the Ministry would embark on rural transformation through an integrated approach with other Ministries like Education, Social Welfare and Women, Youth and Sports, Health, Labour & Employment and Trade and Investment.
5 NUTRITION AND HEALTH IN FIJI REFLECTS ON THE HEALTHY ISLAND VISION (FEATURE)
Twenty years ago, the first Pacific Health Ministers Meeting convened at Yanuca Island and the meeting gave birth to the Yanuca Declaration which encompasses several outcome statements.
In one of the outcomes, a vision statement was coined reflecting the pursuit of the Pacific Island Health forum. It stated, ?Children are nurtured in body, mind and spirit and people work and age with dignity?.
The vision was tied with nutrition in terms of nurturing the body for the whole generation from conception to old age.
The Fiji Ministry of Health & Medical Services, Government and National Food and Nutrition Centre has since worked towards establishing the importance of nutritional wellbeing.
Research assisted in establishing strategies for betterment. The 1993 and 2004 National Nutritional Survey showed that problems of infant malnutrition, underweight children, anaemia and overweight in adults were leading to heart diseases and that diabetes appear to be worsening. Overweightness and obesity rose from 33% in 1993 to 56 % in 2004. Anaemia rates increased from 27% in 1993 to 32% in 2004. Some smaller scale studies in 2008 and 2010 indicated that there were improvements in anaemia rates for children under 5 years and women of child bearing age respectively.
The nutritional wellbeing of a population is an indicator of national development and reflects the combined performance of key Ministries within the social and economic sectors.
Research in Fiji and other Pacific Islands clearly shows that a major cause of all prevalent NCDs and nutrient deficiency diseases has been the change to poorer quality diet and lifestyle as a result of development and modernization.
In fact, available information indicates a downward trend in the production of traditional food crops for local consumption.
The Minister for Health & Medical Services Hon. Jone Usamate said ?The Fijian Government and the Health Ministry continue to work towards addressing the improvement of nutrition in development so that children are nurtured and people are able to age with dignity. Hence an inter- sectoral approach was needed to improve the food and nutrition situation in the country and this led to the endorsement of the Fiji Plan of Action for Nutrition 2010-2014?.
The National Food and Nutritional Centre (NFNC) was tasked with the role of coordinating the multi-sectoral efforts needed to address the growing food, nutrition and health problems. This included working with multi-sectoral stakeholders including the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Industries and Trade; and civil society organizations such as the Consumer Council of Fiji and the Fiji Council of Churches.
There were also initiatives undertaken with the Food Industries; this included the Iron Fortification Program and the reformulation efforts to reduce the levels of salt, sugar and fat in processed foods and non-alcoholic beverages. Other initiatives by the Government through the Health Ministry was the implementation of National Salt Iodization, Banning the sale of mutton flaps, income generating food security programs, Food Safety Act, and the National Iron and Micronutrient Supplementation.
The Ministry of Health with the National Food and Nutrition Center also incorporated nutrition into the health promoting school concept, drafted and submitted regulations to control marketing of foods to infants and young children as well as the advertising of unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children.
NFNC also worked with the divisional and sub divisional Dietitians to establish and maintain food gardens in health care facilities.
?While the Health Ministry has incorporated progressive changes to address the nutritional burden in Fiji, it also reiterates that NCD is a preventable burden. It burdens the economy with excessive medical cost and significant loss of human development potential and work productivity,? Minister Usamate said.
?Our focus now will be placed on creating more awareness and advocating for behavioural changes amongst people in their nutritional choices,? the Minister added.
*This is a buildup article towards the upcoming 11th Pacific Health Ministers Meeting. This meeting will convene at the Shangri-La?s Fijian Resort, Yanuca Island from the 15th-17th April 2015 with 22 Pacific Island Countries expected to attend. This upcoming meeting will also celebrate the 20 year journey since its first Pacific Health Ministers Meeting that convened at Yanuca, Fiji in 1995.
6 MINISTER MEETS NAMOSI YOUTHS
The Minister for Youth and Sports Hon. Laisenia Tuitubou today met with youth groups from the districts of Veinuqa, Veivatuloa, Naqarawai and Wainikoroiluva in Namosi.
This is part of the Minister?s tour of the Central Division as he hopes to complete all youth group visitation by the end of the second quarter.
Speaking to youth workers and representatives of 24 youth groups that gathered in the village of Nakavika, Minister Tuitubou explained the purpose of the visits that were being conducted to youth clubs around the country.
?The main reason behind our visiting youth groups is to hear the voice of the young people and to also address the issues they face and assist them in their needs as young people,? he said.
?We have seen that the rural youth are hardly visited which is part of the reason we are here today to visit you and hope to inspire your youth group to grow even further,? Minister Tuitubou added.
While listening to the issues brought up by the youth workers, Minister Tuitubou informed them that he knew first-hand the difficulties they faced and emphasised the need to always remain positive.
?I have witnessed during my term as the Commissioner of the Central Division, the hardships faced in bringing government services to the people of Namosi and also the difficulties that you face on a daily basis.
?Therefore I urge you to always look at your challenges with an open mind and have that positive thinking to overcome the obstacles that seem to stand in your way,? the Minister added.
The Minister elaborated on some of the Ministry?s services which were targeted at developing young Fijians.
?The Ministry is also heavily involved in the assistance of income generating projects so it is therefore befitting that you brainstorm on ideas to start up such projects or businesses to generate income so you can contribute positively to your communities and villages,? he said.
?Think of suitable income-generating projects that are suitable to your surroundings as there are always opportunities available and look at the ones that will best suit your youth club.
He challenged the youth of Namosi to give back to their village and to leave behind a legacy that their elders could be proud of.
?I have challenged all the youth groups that we have met to try to give something back to their village or community,? he said.
?When we enter a village, we see the work that had been done by the older generation and I challenge the young people to work together to give back to their village so that their efforts can pay dividends and also contribute to the development of their village.
Veivatuloa youth worker William Danford thanked the ministry delegation for the visit to youths of Namosi and for bringing their services closer to them.
?We are very much thankful to the Honourable Minister for making time to come to meet with us the youths of Namosi and also for hearing out some of the prevalent issues that the youths of Namosi face,? Mr Danford said.
The various youth groups presented issues to the Minister including more empowerment training to be conducted for the youth of the province, request for a resource centre for youths, high number of school dropouts, youth unemployment and upgrading of sporting grounds.
The Minister was accompanied by his permanent secretary Mr Josefa Sania and senior Ministry officials from the Central Division.