The Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion, or REACH project, has been identified as much-needed for Samoa due to its high rural population, which was reported at about 81 per cent of the total population in 2016, according to the World Bank.
This means that the majority of the population live outside of the main hubs of Apia and Salelologa where most of the Government and civil society services are centered. As a result, many of them miss out on the opportunity to access or make the most of these services.
This was one of the key findings from a final evaluation workshop conducted on June 6th and 7th 2019, to look at the lessons learned from the REACH community outreach pilot program, that was trialled in Samoa earlier this year.
At the workshop, government officials and other partners who conducted the REACH mobile service delivery including officers from UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), evaluated the implementation of the project, shared good practices and challenges, and discussed future innovative approaches for improved delivery of services to rural and remote areas.
The Minister of Justice and Courts Administration, Faaolesa Katopau Ainuu, who spoke at the opening of the workshop, said the Samoan Government is supportive of this project as it is in line with its commitment to ensure that vulnerable people and those in remote communities have access to justice and government services.
“The REACH mobile model approach was able to address challenges such as remoteness and geographic isolation, while increasing the knowledge and awareness amongst citizens of fundamental human rights, and made government services more accessible to the people of Samoa,” said Faaolesa.
“It is a stepping stone for creating better lives for those in the villages. The success of the REACH model demonstrated that an integrated awareness-raising and service delivery platform has proven extremely effective in taking services to the most remote and marginalized communities.”
The REACH pilot initiative provided more than 900 government and civil society services during its 10-day mobile service delivery program, reaching 10 rural communities in Upolu and Savaii.
The adaptation and pilot of the REACH mobile service delivery was led by the Government of Samoa with support from UNDP and UN Women.
“We are happy to report a significant number of people who have been strongly impacted by this pilot initiative,” said Dr. Simona Marinescu, Resident Coordinator, United Nations in Samoa.
Through the REACH awareness raising sessions, 853 community members (375 women, 463 men and 15 children) increased their awareness on citizens’ rights and gender equality.
For service delivery, 986 services were personally provided to people living in remote and rural communities. This included 487 services provided to women, 497 to men, one to children and one to persons with disabilities.
The services included explaining the review of the family laws of Samoa by the Samoa Law Reform Commission, adoption issues and default debtors by the Office of the Attorney General, vendors and youths programmes by the Ministry of Women, Community & Social Development, mentoring/funding/application help by the Samoa Umbrella for Non-Governmental Organizations (SUNGO), rehabilitation programmes by the Samoa Prisons and Corrections Services, maintenance, affiliation and divorce applications by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, and reporting of lost personal items by the Ministry of Police.
“We design access to services in a way that ensures that no one is left behind,” said Dr. Marinescu.
Through REACH, UNDP and UN Women support the Government of Samoa to achieve the Strategy for the Development of Samoa 2016/17-2019/20, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a focus on Goal 5, which is a commitment to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls; and Goal 16, which is a commitment to promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.
The REACH mobile service delivery was organized in two sessions in the communities: firstly, an awareness-raising information session for all residents to attend, which was followed by personalised service delivery sessions where each community member could seek help accessing specific services.
The REACH pilot initiative aims to enhance citizen access to justice, government and women’s services for rural, maritime and otherwise remote areas in Samoa. This is achieved through an integration of services to facilitate start to finish delivery by service providers in remote areas, with the focus on reaching the furthest behind first.
For general media queries about REACH, please contact:
Laufaleaina Lesa, UNDP Samoa Multi Country Office | Tel. +685 23670 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqui Berrell, UN Women Fiji Multi Country Office | Tel. +679 330 1178 ext. 125 | Email: email@example.com