DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION

1. PROJECT BROADENS OPPORTUNITIES FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT- More than 300 people in the northern division have benefited through the awareness programs on social services, justice and good governance. The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar says this has been achieved through the Reach Project.

2. WEATHER OFFICE WARNS OF RISK OF TROPICAL CYCLONES – Government is urging all Fijian to remain alert and be prepared at all times as we approach the cyclone season.

3. SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE: CHAND – KNOWLEDGE gained from studying abroad through the various scholarship schemes must be shared with people who have not had the same opportunity.

4. $60M FOR CAPITAL WORKS IN SCHOOLS – Government has indicated it would need $60million in ensuring all Fijian schools are on par in terms of infrastructure.

1. PROJECT BROADENS OPPORTUNITIES FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT

More than 300 people in the northern division have benefited through the awareness programs on social services, justice and good governance. The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar says this has been achieved through the Reach Project.

?REACH? (Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion for Rural and Urban Fijians) is a US$2.685 million dollar project funded by the Government of Japan and it?s jointly implemented by the Fijian Government with the UNDP (United Nations Development Program). This partnership was formalized in April this year, through the signing of a joint agreement by the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Japan Ambassador Takuji Hanatani and UNDP resident representative Osnat Lubrani.

?A mobile team has successfully conducted awareness in the North, enabling us to reach out to more than 336 people (188 women and 148 men) in remote locations. This initiative is about ensuring that no one is left behind when it comes to accessing legal and social services.

?REACH is a unique way to raise awareness on the Ministry’s services, on social welfare programs, women empowerment and child protection. It includes information sharing on how to report cases of domestic violence, child welfare cases, positive parenting, male advocacy, gender equality, women?s reproductive health services and counselling services. We will capitalize on the Reach project to create well-informed, united and resilient communities in Fiji? Minister Akbar elaborated.

As part of the Reach project, the Ministry of Women will also receive 3 new mobile buses to provide a ?one stop service centre? for increased awareness and outreach programs.

Japanese Ambassador, Mr Takuji Hanatani has also reaffirmed Japan?s support to broaden economic development opportunities in Fiji.

?Japan is the core sponsor for the REACH Project, I am very pleased to see how it?s delivered to the people of Fiji, through UNDP and the Government of Fiji. The project aims to effectively improve people?s access to social services especially in rural settlements. We are also pleased with the Government?s commitment to empower rural women in Fiji.

?We encourage women to come forward and take advantage of the Reach Project and wider empowerment projects provided by the Government of Fiji. It is only through ownership and participation by you in the policies initiated by the Government, that practical empowerment of women can be realized in Fiji,? Mr Hanatani highlighted.

The United National Development Programme (UNDP) has also pledged its support towards the Fijian Government?s commitment towards women empowerment. Ms Akiko Fujii, Deputy Resident Representative of Fiji Multi-Country Office- UNDP, says that project REACH is a timely initiative to create an inclusive society.

?The United Nations is strongly in support of the Fijian Government initiatives to support the women. We have received positive feedbacks from those who have benefitted from the mobile services as they consider the awareness and service delivery provided at community level as highly valuable. The UN remains ready to continue to support and work in partnership with the Fijian Government in its ongoing efforts to promote women in Fiji,? Ms Fujii said.

The Reach Project also includes awareness programs on the Legal Aid Commission. Mr Sunil Sharma, Director of Legal Aid Commission said that Reach Project as a practical strategy to increase awareness on the legal aid services.

?This project helps the Commission to deliver its commitment on, ?providing greater access for justice.? Through this project, we are able to reach out to rural women and inform them about their rights and the protection that is given to them under the law of this country. The women are empowered through the legal literacy programs and the Commission has been expanding its visibility around the country, the services we provide is free of charge,? Mr Sharma reiterated.

2. WEATHER OFFICE WARNS OF RISK OF TROPICAL CYCLONES

Government is urging all Fijian to remain alert and be prepared at all times as we approach the cyclone season.

Speaking at a press conference today, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport permanent secretary, Francis Kean said there was a moderate possibility for two to three tropical cyclones to pass through Fiji waters with one likely to reach Category Three or above.

Mr Kean said there was a high probability that these cyclones would pass close to or above the Northern and Eastern parts of Fiji.

?Everyone should remain alert and be prepared at all times throughout the season. It is critical that communities across Fiji act responsibly and pay close attention to weather forecasts, warnings and advisories issued by the weather office and Government,? Mr Kean said.

He said for the region, the risk is elevated with 10 ? 14 tropical cyclones predicted to occur within Fiji?s area of responsibility in the 2015/16 season with 4 -8 cyclones predicted to reach Category Three and 3 ? 7 predicted to reach Category Four or Five status.

?These are predictions to give the public a general idea about what to expect in the upcoming cyclone season and not definite numbers. It is expected that the total number of tropical cyclones will be in the vicinity of the values, and not necessarily within the given range.

?Based on the latest information, the risk of tropical cyclones occurrences is highly elevated for Solomon Islands, Wallis and Fortuna, Tokelau, Samoa, Northern Cooks, French Polynesia, an elevated risk is predicted for Vanuatu, Fiji, Niue and Southern Cooks while normal risk is expected for New Caledonia, Tuvalu and Tonga.

?The risks of severe cyclones are highly elevated this season for northern Cook Islands and French Polynesia, elevated for Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Fiji , Wallis and Fortuna, Tokelau, Samoa, Tonga, Niue and southern Cook Islands and normal for Solomon Islands and New Caledonia,? Mr Kean added.

Meanwhile, the current El Nino conditions point to the development and strengthening of a tropical cyclone for the 2015/2016 season to lie mainly to the east of the International Dateline.

Director Fiji Meteorological Service, Ravind Kumar said an assessment after the passage of the Tropical depression over the weekend, showed the Northern and Eastern parts Fiji continue to face dry spell.

?For the next three months, the prediction is that we will continue to experience dryer than normal conditions,? Mr Kumar said.

?As we go into the wet season or into the tropical cyclone season, incidents of rain will increase. However, the amount of rain we expect to get in November and December will not be that much.?

People have been urged to take heed of Water Authority of Fiji?s advisory and continue to use water sparingly.

3. SHARE THE KNOWLEDGE: CHAND

KNOWLEDGE gained from studying abroad through the various scholarship schemes must be shared with people who have not had the same opportunity.

Public Service Commission permanent secretary, Parmesh Chand, told the members of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Alumni Association that this has not been the case in many instances.

?Quite often what is learnt overseas is lost because there are no mechanisms to keep track of it or for the knowledge to be shared or for that matter a database to track down the expertise,? he said.

Mr Chand was speaking at the associations Workshop on Individual Action and applauded the organisation for its efforts in filling in the vacuum particularly for those that have studied in Japan.

He highlighted how many students who undergo training in highly technical fields do not even enter the relevant profession thus the country does not benefit from their expertise nor is any knowledge in that field shared.

Mr Chand said this is particularly pertinent to those receiving training in areas such as climate change and alternative energy.

JICA resident representative, Hiroyuki Sawada reminded the old scholars that the training in Japan was not the end of the task but the beginning.

?The training is a springboard to better things and you need to provide feedback to JICA and the association,? he said.

He said one of the primary objectives of the association, which was formed in 1985, was to foster better relations with Japan.

The workshop was also a platform for five members who are seeking financial support from the Alumni to fund their individual projects.

More than 2700 locals have undergone JICA training under various schemes.

4. $60M FOR CAPITAL WORKS IN SCHOOLS

Government has indicated it would need $60million in ensuring all Fijian schools are on par in terms of infrastructure.

This amount is to ensure that all schools have libraries, library books, and computer labs with computers, proper toilets, and solar energy.

Minister for Education Hon. Mahendra Reddy while meeting with school managers of schools in Yasawa, Nadi and Lautoka district says this was needed in its efforts to strengthen all schools around the country.

“Government is looking at $60m in ensuring that all 900 schools around the country have all the infrastructure in place for a holistic education system,” Minister Reddy said.

“We understand that the maritime schools are in more need of facilities but we want to ensure that the reforms we are carrying out ensures all schools are on par in terms of infrastructure.”

The Minister?s comments follow a request by the manager of Yasawa High School who requested for assistance in solar panels for schools in Yasawa as the costs for transporting fuel for the generator has been an expensive exercise.

Minister Reddy said he was aware of the challenges faced by schools in the maritime zone and they were working on solving this issue.

“We understand that concerns relating to energy has been faced by schools in Lomaiviti, Lau, Kadavu, and the rural schools which are outside the electricity grid,” Minister Reddy said.

“We are currently speaking to some donor agencies and we need to work together to provide an education system that provides growth in our children.”