Fiji is the largest economy of the Pacific Island countries. More than 300 islands make up the Fiji group but fewer than half are populated. Poverty and inequality continue to be a major challenge with an estimated 40 percent of Fiji citizens living below the poverty line in 2008, up from 25 percent in 1990. Pressure on urban centres continues to grow with at least 15 percent of the population now living in informal and squatter settlements. Land tenure challenges and the expiry of land leases are major contributors to the increasing size of these settlements and pose a significant social and economic challenge to development. Fiji ranks at 96th out of 187 countries in in the 2012 Human Development Index.
How We Are Helping?
In Fiji, UNCDF is helping to address development challenges through the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP). PFIP is providing funding to both Digicel and Vodafone to enable new and existing customers to inexpensively make and receive payments through their mobile phones. The products being supported will dramatically lower cost of domestic money transfer and allow greater penetration into rural areas, which stands to greatly benefit low income households. There is also potential for receiving international remittances through this system.
PFIP has also developed a project in partnership with Department of Social Welfare (DSW) and AusAID Fiji to convert over 25,000 very low-income clients, mostly women, from an insecure and costly cash benefit system to an electronic payment system that creates low cost savings services for all clients.