Caption: Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Hon. Sakiasi Ditoka and members of the Ministry’s senior management with participants at the one-day workshop on Rural and Outer Island Development Programme.
SUVA – Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Hon. Sakiasi Ditoka has assured stakeholders of the Ministry that it will ensure that the revamped Rural Outer Island (ROI) Development Programme will be inclusive and will take into account elements of collaboration with key stakeholders.
The ROI Development Programme, previously overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture had been gazetted by Government in January this year as part of the ministerial assignment to the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management.
In his remarks during the meeting, Hon. Ditoka called on stakeholder representatives from key ministries and agencies of Government and development partners to work together and reflect on how we have progressed over the years, and also identify how we could do better.
“There is great potential in rural and maritime areas. All efforts must now be made to unlock these potentials to generate wealth that will in turn improve the living standards and the quality of lives of all citizens, address food security, and reduce our import bills while boosting our exports,” Hon. Ditoka said.
“It is noted that most of Government agencies have budgetary allocation for interventions to boost development in the rural areas. However, the Ministry is of the view that more improvements is needed especially in terms of coordination and collaboration of efforts in the rural development space. It is now time to harmonise our programmes, planning and mobilisation of resources. We must improve.”
“The objective of ROI when the programme was first introduced may be subject to review in order to take into consideration the current environment that we are now operating in as well as the evolving development needs in the rural areas.”
Minister Ditoka also reiterated that the Ministry was committed to working with its stakeholders to address development gaps.
“However, we must ensure that sustainability and resilience are at the core of development especially with the greatest threat of climate change that is definitely becoming real in the rural areas, especially communities living by the coast line or river banks.”
The one-day workshop focusing on the ROI Programme was an opportunity for participants from the different stakeholders of the Ministry to provide genuine and honest feedback on how the Ministry had been implementing its development programmes, and how we could better collaborate moving forward.
“At the end of the day, our rural customers should feel the impact of all our rural development efforts, and should translate to improving living standards, reduction in poverty and reversing rural to urban drift.”
The Ministry is also working closely with the Ministry of Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics on the formulation of the ROI Programme as it is one of the thematic areas for discussion in the National Economic Summit next month.
Hon. Ditoka also outlined that the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management was also embarking on the development of a National Rural Development Policy which would guide and set the model, concepts, strategies, and priorities for rural and maritime development in Fiji.
He also acknowledged the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), through the Governance for Resilience Project, in introducing resilience measures into policies, plans, and standard operating procedures at the Ministry level and translating these into Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) projects at the divisional level.
“The support commenced with 8 development projects in the first year, 21 in the second year, and 60 in the current year. The intention is to replicate in other Government agencies, through the budget planning process for Public Sector Investment Programmes,” he added.
The Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management is responsible for implementing development strategies that bring Fijians living in rural and maritime regions the same level of access to essential services and economic opportunities as anywhere else in the country. We coordinate and implement the Fiji Government’s rural and maritime development initiatives with a mission to empower Fiji’s rural sector. We also spearhead disaster risk reduction initiatives at national and sub-national level including disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. We have offices for each of Fiji’s 14 provinces including Rotuma, leading the Fiji Government’s rural development and disaster risk management operations.
Follow us on Twitter @MRMDFiji @FijiNDMO| Facebook: @developmentfiji
For press enquiries: Aqela Susu, MRMDDM, Tel. +679 3216456/+679 9985670,