The Fiji Council of Social Services has shed light on the significant hindrances posed by the government’s standard operating procedures to the development and relocation efforts in vulnerable communities.
Vani Catanasiga, Executive Director of FCOSS, emphasizes the difficulties communities encounter in understanding and following these guidelines, particularly in the context of relocation.
Catanasiga says villages are willing to relocate, they have the land, and the timbers but meeting the government’s standard operating procedure is something that is holding them back.
“The SOP outlines that the village has to write. And I’ve just been to Lawaki and no one knows how to do that, so I had to explain the SOP to them. It might also be because relocating a village is a huge task.”
Minister for Rural Development Sakiasi Ditoka believes there is enough flexibility to ensure that every community can have a project that suits their relocation plan.
“It’s not one size fits all. For different communities, it would probably have different priorities, and then it can be adjusted for each community, and it’s meant to be like that.”
FCOSS intends to hold discussions with relevant government representatives in order to push for changes to policies that gives community development and relocation top priority.