The impact of Fiji’s recent COVID-19 outbreak has shocked the Pacific community. Over 39,770 Fijians are currently infected with the virus. In Fiji the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the population beyond public health, impacting many people’s livelihoods and creating widespread food insecurity.
COVID-19 has particularly affected people living in the fast-growing informal settlements around the main cities. Physical distancing is hard to achieve when it is common for multiple generations of the same family to be living under one roof, including children and the elderly. Homes in these areas often lack adequate hygiene and sanitation facilities.
Live & Learn Fiji is providing relief through the distribution of food rations, hygiene kits and personal protective equipment. To date, over 1,400 households in the locked-down Suva-Nausori corridor and the Nausori-Lami containment zone have benefited from these deliveries.
The contents of the food ration packs include rice, biscuits, tea, flour, oil, milk power, split peas and tinned fish. The hygiene kits include menstrual pads, handwashing soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, laundry soap, dish soap, sponges, and antiseptic cleaners.
As well as delivering much need supplies, Live & Learn Fiji is also working with communities to improve hygiene practices. A need for soap was identified through a consultation with the Fiji Ministry of Health in June 2020. During the first phase on the response Live & Learn was able to provide communities and schools with 3 months’ supply of handwashing soap, and training in making soap to help ensure a sustainable soap supply.
Eighteen participants from the three districts of Yawe, Yale and Nabukelevu-i-ra in Kadavu & Vatulele attended a 2-day soap making workshop. Live & Learn provided the participants with equipment and ingredients and a consultant was hired to equip men and women with the basic skills need to make soap. This training was officiated by the Roko Tui Kadavu and the Senior Health Inspector Kadavu, and is playing a vital role in helping Fijian communities better protect themselves from the virus.
Live & Learn Fiji will continue supporting communities and working with committed partners to respond to this crisis.
Live & Learn Fiji’s COVID-19 response has been made possible thanks to coordinated support funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and collaborations with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Empower Pacific, and the Fiji Disabled Peoples Federation.
Photos courtesy of the Ministry of Agriculture Fiji and Live & Learn Fiji.