Additional tents to promote social distancing at markets

Date: Monday, October 26, 2020

[Press release]

Photos: UN Women/Iliesa Ravuci

Suva, Fiji — Market vendors across Fiji will be able to continue selling their produce while practicing social distancing to reduce the risk of COVID 19 transmissions, with additional tents handed over to the Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Community Development this week.

Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, H.E. Jonathon Feakes handed over a total of 104 tents to Hon. Premila Kumar, the Minister of Local Government, Housing and Community Development Monday (October 26th). The handover is part of an ongoing COVID 19 response partnership by the ministry and the UN Women Fiji Markets for Change project. The assistance was made possible through support from the Australian Government, and the Governments of Canada and New Zealand. The tents will be distributed to all municipal councils.

“Ensuring that markets are safe and more accessible, not only to the market vendors but also the public, is an important part of our work in designing and maintaining markets across Fiji,” Hon. Minister Kumar said. “Municipal markets are of utmost importance to those in the informal economy, as they rely on the markets for economic opportunities. We have recently seen the increasing number of vendors coming to the markets in light of the adverse effects of COVID19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold. The timely assistance, therefore, is highly appreciated.”

Mareta Tagivakatini, president of the Labasa Market Vendors Association (MVA), and a market vendor for six years, expressed appreciation for the timely provision of the new tents.

“The additional tents provided by UN Women will be very helpful to the market vendors, especially to the farmers who are coming to sell in the markets across Fiji,” Ms. Tagivakatini said. “Most of the farmers are coming from rural and peri urban areas. The tents provide proper shelter and protection from adverse weather conditions. Thank you, UN Women, for thinking of us.”

Mr Feakes reiterated that Australia remained a steadfast partner to the Fiji Government under the Vuvale Partnership. “We are there for the government, its town councils and the private sector as they work to progress gender equality and economically empower all women in Fiji’.

Filomea O’Neil, the president of the Lautoka Market Vendors Association, who has been selling at the Lautoka market for 10 years was thankful for the continuing support to the market vendors despite the dual crises of COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold.

“I’m happy that the market vendors, especially those that come in the weekend will benefit greatly from the additional tents, as this will provide good shelter from the hot sun and rain, and also it will allow our vendors to continue to practice the good habit of social distancing in the Lautoka market,” Ms. O’Neil said.

“We know that across Fiji, market vendors have had to contend with dual disasters – the impacts of COVID 19 and TC Harold – both of which have impacted market vendors livelihoods and income,” Sandra Bernklau, UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Representative, said. “The additional tents will allow space to give more vendors the opportunity to sell at the markets as well as provide additional space to allow for social distancing.”

Market vendors in the Pacific are predominantly women (70-90%), and are often the sole income earner, or a significant contributor to a family’s income. Ensuring that marketplaces are safe, healthier, and more accessible not only to the market vendors but also the wider members of the public that enter market spaces is an important part of the Markets for Change project.

UN Women’s M4C Project is a multi-year, multi-country initiative that aims to have marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu that are safe, inclusive, and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

A UN Women project, M4C is principally funded by the Government of Australia’s Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) program, and since 2018 the project partnership has expanded to include funding support from the governments of Canada and New Zealand. UNDP is an implementing partner.

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Fiji - Additional tents to promote social distancing at markets

Media Contact:

Iliesa Ravuci
Communication and Monitoring & Evaluation Officer M4C Project
Tel: 3301178 ext 115 ll Cell: +679 9766255
Email: iliesa.ravuci@unwomen.org