As part of the ‘Vuvale Partnership’ between the Australian Government and the Fijian Government, the Australian Government has provided a direct funding of FJD$9.9 million (AUD$6.7million) to the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation to provide Top Ups for recipients of selected social protection schemes of the Department of Social Welfare using cash-based transfers and paper voucher protocols.

The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa highlighted that these top ups will provide additional relief to vulnerable Fijian families who are dependent on social welfare during this COVID-19 pandemic crisis, compounded with the impact of TC Harold. “This cash and voucher assistance will be provided in August and September, 2020 to beneficiaries already registered in the government’s Disability Allowance Scheme, Poverty Benefit Scheme and Care and Protection Allowance

Details of the Top Ups Details:

Disability Allowance Scheme
– Beneficiaries registered in the Disability Allowance Scheme will receive two (2) payments: one (1) in August worth FJD 50, and one (1) in September worth FJD 50.
– This is in addition to the existing monthly cash entitlement of FJD 90.
– Starting from 5th August, beneficiaries will be able to withdraw cash from their bank accounts or redeem the vouchers at their nearest post offices.

Poverty Benefit Scheme and Care and Protection Allowance.
– Households registered in the Poverty Benefit Scheme and the Care and Protection Allowance will receive two (2) payments: one (1) in August worth FJD 100, and one (1) in September worth FJD 100.
– This is in addition to the existing monthly food voucher and cash entitlement.
– Starting from 5th August, beneficiaries will be able to withdraw cash from their bank accounts or redeem the vouchers at their nearest post offices.

This is an interim intervention to top up vulnerable families. The Poverty Benefit Scheme, the Care and Protection Allowance and the Disability Allowance Scheme assistance will go back to the regular monthly entitlements after the top ups are completed.

Minister Vuniwaqa states that this program is category targeted to reach the intended beneficiaries within the given budget and specific attention is paid on impoverished household and individuals such as persons with disabilities and children. “This intervention will allow the eligible beneficiaries to better manage the risk during this livelihood shock situation, increase the capacity of household and individuals to invest in human capital and help break the poverty cycle. As majority of the households under the selected programs have women beneficiaries and are in control of the household expenditures, this increase in reliable source of income through cash transfers will enhance their economic decision making power within the households as well.”

She adds that the assistance will enable approved households and beneficiaries – identified as necessitating additional help to cope with the disasters (TC Harold and COVID-19) to purchase fresh and nutritious food and essential supplies for their household in August and in September. It is also assumed that cash will not only be used to purchase goods to cover basic needs, but occasionally beneficiaries will use them to repay debt and/or to make livelihoods investments.

On behalf of the Fijian Government, Minister Vuniwaqa thanked the Australian Government for this great support to the vulnerable Fijian families dependent on social welfare during this COVID-19 pandemic crisis and TC Harold Rehabilitation.

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