Oxfam's and partner in Fiji PCDF (Partners in Community Development Fiji) Public Health Promotion workshop, aimed to key community focus groups (health workers, men, women and youth). The overall objective was to strengthen communities / village health worker’s capacity to mobilise Winston cyclone affected communities in WASH disease prevention and reduction. Credit: Alfredo Prado/OxfamAUS

Fiji is an archipelago in the South Pacific made up of more than 300 islands and a population of over 854,000. Although Fiji is relatively urbanized with high levels of economic development compared to other Melanesian countries, increasing wealth disparities, political instability and a lack of livelihood opportunities are eroding the social fabric of a country. With poverty on the rise, discrimination and violence against women are widespread.

Fiji has one of the fastest growing populations in the Pacific, with 60 percent of the population made up of people under the age of 29. The countries main source of revenue lies in sugar, tourism, textile manufacturing, mining, logging and fisheries, with 67 percent of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture. However like most small island states, Fiji’s economy is threatened by its limited scale of production, geographic remoteness and susceptibility to natural disasters. Lack of employment and changing community structure means that young people are especially vulnerable to social and economic marginalization.

Oxfam in Fiji

Oxfam has worked in Fiji since the early 1990’s and currently partners with two local organizations, FemLINK and the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (PCP) focusing on three key areas.

Empowering Women: Oxfam is enabling women to voice their own agenda and speak out concerning decisions that affect them. We support FemLINK’s radio show ‘FemTALK’ which gives rural women a platform to express their concerns about community issues, and collates these stories to inform local and national policy recommendations. Oxfam assists FemLINK in becoming a more robust organization through sharing organizational expertise, conducting ongoing field assessments and providing resources, such as broadcasting consultation costs and transport.

Capacity Building: Oxfam is expanding FemLINK’s influence through strengthening their relationship with other Pacific NGO’s and sourcing funds for expansion. We are helping fund a permanent role in FemLINK to oversee broadcasting activities and act as a link between the community and government.

Education on Social Justice: Oxfam works with the PCP in educating communities on how to reduce conflict and advance social justice. We are helping communities understand the root causes of conflict, inequality and poverty, and develop strategies for peacebuilding and social cohesion. Oxfam provides education on establishing democratic processes and inclusive decision making. This education trains emerging young leaders from various ethnic groups and supports Fijians in developing shared community plans of action.