‘REACH partnership’ all for peoples’ access to services

November 28, 2022

The REACH community programme of awareness raising and service delivery in Naduri village of Nadroga Province in Fiji.

Photo: UNDP

Access to basic services such as water for everyday use, physical infrastructural barriers and stigma are among the challenges faced daily by members of the communities living with physical disabilities. They voiced their experiences and the challenges at a Talanoa session with representatives from the governments of Fiji, Australia and Japan, as well as the UN Development Programme (UNDP) that was arranged during the Rights Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) community programme of awareness raising and service delivery in Navisabasaba village, Nadroga Province of Fiji on 22 November 2022.

The participants of the Talanoa session received assistive devices such as forearm crutches and rolling walkers from the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), a civil society organization (CSO) that advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities and provides awareness raising and mobility aid equipment. SIA has also been providing a key partner for the REACH programme ensuring service delivery and support to people with disabilities throughout Fiji. The participants at the REACH programme Disability Talanoa session in Navisabasaba Village also received a 2,500 LTR water tank each from the Water Authority Fiji coordinated through the REACH programme. 

Among the participants in the Talanoa session was 81-year-old Ms Rigieta Navale from Naduri village who shared her experience. Ms Navale was a netball player when she was young and now enjoys gardening. She recalls how she used to carry heavy firewood and cassava on her back. Although she maintains her healthy and active life, gradually as the years went by, she felt it difficult to stand up straight and walk, as she used to. 

Ms Rigieta Navale from Naduri village (center) shared how she keeps herself active despite the challenges she faces.

Photo: UNDP

“With this mobility aid I received today, I will be able to continue enjoying gardening and other activities I like to carry out,” said Ms Navale. “During the Talanoa session, I spoke about how difficult it was for me to move freely inside our house. There are barriers on doorways, which need to be removed so that we, elderly members of families, can move more comfortably in our house,” she added.

Another participant in the Talanoa session who has complications with her knee and back shared that she used to crawl in the house but now with the aid equipment she received, she is able to move and rest on the seat whenever she needed. “Fetching water is another challenge. You know how I can carry water without help when I cannot stand up and walk,” she added.

Members of the communities welcomed Honourable Fijian Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Ms Rosy Akbar. Minister Akbar said that REACH is a caring mechanism that brings Government services closer to where people live and where they can more easily access them, despite their age, gender or ethnicity. “The REACH programme promotes the Fijian Government’s vision of “Inclusive Socio-economic Development” ensuring that no Fijian is left behind," said Minister Akbar.

Members of the communities living with physical disabilities voiced their experiences and the challenges at a Talanoa session.

Photo: UNDP

The REACH programme service delivery has been conducted in more than 10 communities in the districts of Nokonoko and Malomalo in Nadroga Province of Fiji during the last two weeks. More than 15 government agencies and CSOs provided information and services crucial for the citizens such as social welfare schemes; the registrations of land, births, deaths and marriages; medical check-ups and advice; psychosocial counseling; sexual and reproductive health support; consumers’ rights; oversea employment scheme, services for water and more.

The REACH programme at Navisabasaba village also welcomed the ‘REACH partners’, Mr Yosuke Yamada from the Embassy of Japan in Fiji, Mr Iliesa Lutu from the Australian High Commission in Fiji, and Ms Yemesrach Workie, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Deputy Resident Representative. 

Mr Yosuke Yamada, the First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Fiji said, “I am glad to participate in the REACH programme in the village today which made it clear that the programme we support is a successful model for integrated service delivery. I appreciate the partnership and efforts made by all these service providers and efficient coordination by the Fijian Government and UNDP to reach out the communities and provide services at their doorsteps.” 

Representatives from the Japanese Embassy in Fiji observed the REACH programme in Navisabasaba village.

Photo: UNDP

Mr Iliesa Lutu, Senior Program Manager from the Australian High Commission in Fiji said that he has been seeing how people in rural and remote communities of Fiji benefit from the REACH programme which Australian government supported. “The REACH programme is an exemplary platform to bring government, civil society and communities together to assist people’s access to services in a most effective and inclusive manner.” 

Ms Yemesrach Workie, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Deputy Resident Representative acknowledged and thanked the continued support for the REACH programme provided by the Japanese Government and the Australian Government. “Thanks to the consistent partnership, UNDP through the REACH programme has been able to assist the Fijian government system to strengthen its provision of public services to the doorstep of the citizens. UNDP remains committed to assisting people’s access to services with focus on most marginalised and vulnerable populations.” 

Over the last seven years, the REACH programme provided awareness raising on citizens’ legal, social and economic rights, and related public services at their doorsteps as guaranteed by the Fijian Constitution. It aims to support an integrated government system to strengthen its service delivery to the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in Fiji. The REACH programme is implemented with leadership of the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in partnership with UNDP with financial support from the Government of Japan. It was also supported by the Australian government. The REACH programme has also been implemented in Tonga with focus on sustainable development of Tongan people overcoming the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters.

For more information, or media interviews please contact: 
Tomoko Kashiwazaki, Communications and Advocacy, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. Email: tomoko.kashiwazaki@undp.org; mobile: (+679) 781 5465