Australia’s aid to Fiji for the 2009-10 year is increasingly focused on mitigating the economic and social impacts of the 2006 coup and the global economic recession on the ordinary people of Fiji according to Australia’s Counsellor for Pacific Development Co-operation, Judith Robinson.
The aid, through the Australian government’s overseas aid program, , is estimated at $48 million in 2009-10.
Robinson made the remarks at the launch of the workshop on Poverty, Unemployment and Gender Issues in Lautoka.
“The increased funding to the region also reflects Australia’s commitment to assist Pacific Island countries respond to the global recession,” Robinson said.
Australia’s aid program to Fiji will be directed at maintaining essential health and education services, and small and medium enterprise development, including contributing to efforts to make financial services available to the wider population, in particular poorer rural areas.
Australia will also remain ready to assist with natural disasters. $3million was committed to assist relief and recovery efforts following the recent floods.
Furthermore, a total of $A895,000 has been allocated to the agriculture sector for the procurement of vegetable seedlings, provision of veterinary antibiotics to prevent disease outbreaks amongst livestock herd, clearing debris from farms, improvement to on-farm infrastructure such as farm sheds and repair of farm access roads and irrigation.
“As much as possible, Australia’s aid to Fiji seeks to make a practical difference to people’s lives. For example, through the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprise Development, 20 new small businesses were started as a result of income generation training” said Robinson.