*** Introduction *** Mr Chairman/Madam Chair, Fiji Intro. Madam Chair, Fiji, like other small island developing states, face significant and

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1 Statement by Dr. Josefa Koroivueta Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Social Welfare, Fiji HLM on South-South Cooperation for Child Rights in the Asia-Pacific Region New Delhi, India, October 23 25, 2013 *** Introduction *** Mr Chairman/Madam Chair Your Excellency s Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen On behalf of the Fijian people and Government, it is my privilege as the Head of our Delegation to extend our warmest greetings at this HIGH LEVEL MEETING. I also present our sincere appreciation to the Indian Government for welcoming us to this meeting and to the United Nations Children s Fund, for its continuing support towards protecting and advancing the rights of children across the globe. Mr Chairman/Madam Chair, At the offset, let me convey to you the commitment by the Fijian Government towards protecting and promoting the rights of children in our nation. I am pleased to inform this forum that for the first time in our nation s history, we finally have a constitution that recognises the individual rights of all Fijians. It is a document that includes for the first time, fundamental and basic rights for our children. Fiji Intro Madam Chair, Fiji, like other small island developing states, face significant and common challenges in our pursuit to provide an environment that is safe and enabling for our children. Establishing and strengthening our network has proven to be effective despite the commonalities of challenges that we face in South South context.

2 Further, we have introduced long term measures that recognises the contribution by all stakeholders; our commitment is no longer a Government only role, or an NGO only role. Our approach has been successful because it has recognised the importance of an inclusive commitment from all relevant parties. The urban advantage Colleagues, like other small island developing states, the process of urbanisation hinders progress and presents as a challenge when pursuing socio economic opportunities for our children. There is a divide between those in rural and urban centres in terms of accessibility to some of the most basic services and resources. Those living in rural or isolated communities are often less likely to have access to sanitation, education, and employment as examples; as opposed to those living in urban centres. And through this, there are new defined measures of poverty in rural communities however the definition of poverty is too broad to be applied to ALL small island developing states. Inequalities within urban areas Despite the availability of these so called opportunities, the reality is that this is not shared by all city dwellers. Official statistics that compare overall conditions in rural and urban areas tend to mask the actual living conditions of poor urban dwellers. In Fiji, informal and squatter settlements continue to exist. It is estimated that a significant percent of Fiji s total population, are living in informal settlements often in poor quality housing, with inadequate service provision, in environmentally marginal areas, and with no legal security of tenure. Typically, very little information is available on the living conditions of children and households in squatter settlements. However, in 2011, the Fijian government produced for the first time a poverty map to estimate poverty levels for small geographical areas based on a statistical technique that combines information from Household Income and Expenditure Survey with data from the Census bureau. We found that poverty levels in squatter settlements range between 38 and 55 percent. In other words, poverty rates in squatter settlements are up to twice as high as the average urban poverty rate and similar to poverty rates in rural areas. This has important implications when implementing poverty alleviation programmes and addressing urban poverty. FIJI HAS PUT IN PLACE RESETTLEMENT PROGRAMMES FOR

3 SUCH COMMUNITIES TO MEET HOUSING, HEALTH, SANITATION AND SOCIAL ENHANCEMENT. We also see strong disparities across income quintiles in urban areas. For example, urban children in the poorest quintile are three times less likely to attend secondary school than children in the richest quintile THE ABOVE APPROACH WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO CHILDREN IN SUCH ENVIRONMENT. Delivering social assistance to urban poor children To address this ladies and gentlemen, the Fijian government continues to implement reforms that are not only based on universal principles but for the first time, targets ordinary Fijians or children in rural or remote communities across the country. Social protection has proven to be a crucial component in the process of poverty reduction strategies and efforts to reduce vulnerability to economic, social, natural and other shocks and stresses. It is particularly important for children because of their heightened vulnerability, and the role that social protection can play in ensuring adequate nutrition, utilisation of basic services and access to social services by the poorest. Fiji has one of the most developed social protection systems in the Pacific. It targets the different cohorts in life including children, women, people with disability and the elderly who are living in destitution or on the verge of destitution. Our social protection programmes are administered by different Government Agencies in partnership with stakeholders and NGOs in the community. It is becoming increasingly important to deliver social protection in an urban context due to the growing rate of urbanisation and the steady increase in squatter settlements. For our children, we have three main social protection programs. The first one is the Care & Protection Allowance, which is provided to households and to children under care in nine Residential institutions. This consists of monthly cash grant targeting children living in poor families in both rural and urban dwellers. The monthly allowance is paid to the guardian of the child and the amount is determined by the child s age, school enrolment and other criteria. Recipients of the Care & Protection Allowance also receive a monthly food voucher. Maximum amount of cash offered to children in a household is $110 and approximately 4900 children benefits from this assistance.

4 The selection process begins with the Welfare officer filling the application for the care giver; either kinship or foster parents verified through an initial house visit. The application form should be attached with three key supportive documents which includes the: birth certificate, a school letter and community letter. Fixed allowance to approved applicants though cash vouchers or bank credits are undertaken only after VALIDATION. Another important social protection programme for Fijian children is the Free Bus Fare Scheme which is administered through the Ministry of Education. Launched in 2009, the program provides transportation assistance to schoolchildren with a family income below FJ$15,000. The program is currently assists more than 77,121 student around the entire country; of which 57,866 students at Primary school level and 19,255 students at Secondary school level. While the program is designed to reduce financial burden or parents across the country, it is aimed at encouraging class attendance for all students that are eligible to be part of this program. A significant squatter settlement upgrading project is also currently underway targeting 128 informal settlements with a total population of around 88,000 under the Ministry of Local Government. Socio economic surveys are initially carried out before any upgrading takes place. Collated information and statistics informed the responsible agency on the contextualized upgrading assistance to offer. Under this special project; informal settlements are developed to fully serviced subdivisions with provision of sealed road access, water and seaweed reticulation, electricity reticulation and issuance of residential leases. Conclusion Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by saying that rapid urban growth in Fiji bring in its share of social and economic impacts and environmental risks. It places the increasing demands for efficient urban management to produce social and economic benefits to our people. Fiji reaffirms its commitment in the new constitution; the right of every child to education and to ensure that resources are made available to achieve progressive realization to full and free participation in the economic life of the State

5 Your coordinated engagements and facilitative approaches through the South South Cooperation is sought for a well enforced regulation and accountability framework to implement the Hague Protocol; eliminate child trafficking and child labour and inculcate informal innovations to achieve self reliance and equitable child rights settings. Thank you very much and Vinaka Vakalevu

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