(L to R) UNICEF Pacific Representative Dr. Karen Allen with the Minister for Women, Hon. Rosy Akbar with the Child Sensitive Social Protection in Fiji Report.Photo.SUPPLIED.
A new report has found that Fiji is at forefront in the Pacific with social protection programmes, in particular the Care and Protection allowance that reaches out to at least 5,000 vulnerable children throughout Fiji.
The ?Child Sensitive Social Protection in Fiji: Assessment of the Care and Protection Allowance Report? was officially launched today by the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar.
Minister Akbar reiterated that child protection and welfare are at the core of the Fijian Government?s policies and programs.
?The Fijian Government continues to pledge its commitment to upholding the children?s rights, including the right to social protection. This commitment is enshrined in the 2013 constitution of Fiji, where article 37 states that ?the State shall take reasonable measures to achieve the progressive realization of the right of every person to social security.
?Various social protection programs have been providing income security to poor families, vulnerable elderly, people with disabilities, and children in need. And we continue to strive toward a comprehensive social protection system,? Minister Akbar elaborated.
Minister Akbar said that the new report will enable the Ministry to make more informed decisions and increase its reach to underprivileged children.
?It is certainly useful for all of us to look in-depth into the program implementation and analyse what we did well, what challenges we face, and how we can realistically and effectively improve the social protection programs for children.?More than that, this assessment also presents lessons learned and best practices for other countries who are considering to establish similar programs. Care and Protection Allowances intend to break the vicious cycle of poverty, allowing the children to be healthy, educated and more productive citizens?.
?Monthly food voucher program ensures that minimum level of nutrition is provided for the growth of the children. While cash transfer component assist families to meet other necessities such as transportation, access to health care, education, and housing, clothing and supplementary nutrition. Findings of the assessment show and this confirms international experiences with cash transfer, that the money has been used by beneficiary families as intended, and that it has significant impact in improving their lives. Through this kind of social protection schemes, we are investing in our future,? Minister Akbar reiterated.
While thanking the Fijian Government for its long-standing partnership and commitment to children, UNICEF Pacific Representative Dr Karen Allen said, ?We are happy to see the development of Fiji?s long-standing social protection programmes. With its cash transfer schemes for the vulnerable population including poor families, vulnerable elderly and children, Fiji sets an example to other Pacific Island Countries. The Care and Protection Allowance, a targeted cash transfer programme specifically for children, is the first of its kind in the pacific.?
?We are also delighted to see that the Government of Fiji is continuously trying to develop and improve its social protection strategy, not only to extend coverage to more beneficiaries, but also to improve the efficacy of the schemes,? Dr Allen said.
The Assessment reported that children are more likely to be living in poverty compared to adults; while the national poverty rate is 30.6 per cent, the poverty rate among children is 35.3 per cent.
Care and Protection Allowance is a social protection scheme specifically targeted at assisting poor and vulnerable children through providing monthly cash allowances and the food vouchers.
The beneficiaries, including children living in single-headed households, children with elderly caregivers, children with disabilities and children in residential care homes.