Nuku’alofa – February 5, 2019: 4.20pm (UNDP): Social support services for women, men and families provided by the government and civil society organizations (CSOs) will become more accessible for Tongan citizens, through a new mobile service delivery initiative launched today.
People living in remote, rural and maritime communities in Tonga will soon have better access to social services including, youth programme, registration for labour mobility and seasonal workers scheme, women’s livelihood assessments and microenterprise, community development grant, registration for the Electoral Roll, national ID, family protection, legal aid and police services, support services for women, men and families, while also receiving information about citizens’ rights and gender equality.
The mobile service delivery initiative, called Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH), is led by the Government of Tonga with support from UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The REACH mobile service delivery model began in Fiji in 2015, and this year is expanding to Tonga and Samoa.
Today’s launch was done by Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, inviting Fijian counterpart, Permanent Secretary for Fiji’s Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Dr Josefa Koroivueta, to help design a Tongan version of the mobile service delivery model.
Tonga’s Minister of Internal Affairs and Health, Honourable Dr Saia Piukala said the government is committed to the project.
“We are committed to reaching out to people who need our services most but face difficulties in accessing them for various reasons, including children, youth, elderly, persons with disabilities, women and men. Through the REACH initiative we aim to enhance more inclusive delivery of our service provision. Using the mobile service delivery platform, we also aim to increase the awareness of people on government’s support services for vulnerable groups, and strengthen gender equality in our society.”
The launch is being followed by a three-day workshop to develop a locally-designed approach to REACH that best suits Tonga, and to overcome geographical and social barriers that people face in accessing local services. The workshop, implemented by UN Women, UNDP and Fiji REACH team members, will also ensure integration of gender equality in all aspects of design, delivery and transfer of the REACH methodology including quantitative and qualitative data collection.
Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Koroivueta shared the result of the REACH model and said, “Through the REACH mobile service delivery in Fiji, which was supported by the Government of Japan and UNDP, 37,807 services were delivered and 22,233 people in remote, rural, maritime or marginalized communities benefitted during the project implementation period from July 2015 -December 2018. Various, integrated services were provided at their doorstep including welfare programmes, civil registration, legal aid, human rights, health and banking.”
“The consolidated awareness raising and service delivery platform involving government and independent statutory institutions, CSOs and private sector service providers proved extremely effective in bringing services to the most remote and marginalised communities in Fiji,” he added.
UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative a.i. Mr Bakhodir Burkhanov said, “We are delighted to see the REACH mobile service delivery expanded from a successful Fiji initiative to a new start-up in Tonga. Together with UN Women, UNDP is committed to support the awareness of Tongans of the various services available to them, and strengthen their access to justice and public services, with a focus on upholding gender equality and inclusive, rights-based approach.”
UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office Deputy Representative Sarah Boxall said, “UN Women is excited to join the REACH project working together with UNDP, the Government of Tonga and local partners to help develop a Tongan designed and customised approach, building on the lessons learned and success of REACH in Fiji. In particular, we’re keen to support ways for Tonga’s REACH pilot initiative to further strengthen access to information and services to meet the unique needs of women and families, and by doing so ensure that women, men and children living in remote communities can better access essential services.”
The REACH mobile service delivery pilot initiative, funded and implemented by UN Women and UNDP, aims to enhance citizen access to justice and government services for rural, maritime and otherwise remote citizens in Tonga through integration of services and remote delivery by service providers with the focus on reaching the furthest behind first. The REACH mobile service delivery has also been launched in Samoa.
Through the REACH pilot initiative, UN Women and UNDP support the government of Tonga to achieve the Tonga Strategic Development Plan 2015-25 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a focus on Goal 5, which is a commitment to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls; and Goal 16, which is a commitment to promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.