Work together - Get food and essentials to our poorest people
Updated: May 2
Thursday 29th April 2021
“We are appealing to the Government to show leadership and take clear, positive and immediate steps to tackle the issue of food poverty in our country resulting from the renewed coronavirus outbreak”.
“We are saying to the Government: You cannot stay silent about this. If you do not have a solution yet, please at least tell the public you are working on it”.
National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad said the NFP was making the appeal as both he and the Party have been inundated with calls from the poor and struggling families pleading for assistance.
“People do not just need food. They also need basic medicines, sanitary materials and – importantly right now – masks. People should not have to choose between buying masks and buying food. If people are not given support, it will become difficult for them to stay home. Staying home is critical to addressing the spread of the virus”.
“The stories across the pages of The Fiji Times today reflect what we already know and what community workers are telling us. Poor people who live from day to day are again out of work, they are restricted in their movements and have no options. They buy their food from day to day, but they now have nothing to eat. We cannot let this continue”.
“The only solution Government is offering is the usual one – “take out your FNPF”. But there are thousands of people who have no FNPF balances or aren’t FNPF members. What are we doing for them?”
“The Government must show leadership. The NFP is suggesting that: -“
Government should immediately announce that it is making $10 million available to address food and essential supply needs.
Government should call a series of joint meetings the many NGOs, faith-based organisations and other networks who are already working to relieve food poverty, to gather information and understand the situation on the ground. This can be done virtually. In the private and NGO sectors, Zoom meetings are now the norm. These NGOs have deep knowledge and existing networks. More money will hugely improve their impact.
Based on the information they get and the planning they are able to achieve, Government should be releasing cash to these organisations, either for direct payments or to purchase food packs. Many non-profit organisations already have discount arrangements with wholesalers and suppliers who support their operations.
The Ministry of Health and Police should be asked to support logistics and access for NGO representatives.
Of course there should be proper accountability for these funds, but many of these organisations are already very experienced at accountability. They already work with local and foreign donors. Don’t let Government bureaucracy cause delays. The process may not be perfect on Day One. That is OK, we can improve the processes as we go. If people are going without food, and other essentials, urgency is required.
“The Government has called on us all to work together to respond to this latest crisis. We support this call. But Government must put this call into action, not just words”.
“All over Fiji there are committed, well-run organisations ready to help those in dire need. It is now for Government to step up and support them. It cannot do this by itself. People are ready to help. Give them the power to do it”.
Professor Biman Prasad