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The Fiji Parish

01 October 1999

Fiji Parish, Fiji: UNV has been active in the Fiji Parish of islands since June 1974, when an American English teacher, Walter M. Jarema, took up the first volunteer assignment in Fiji. Mr. Jarema, who completed his work on 31 December 1975, was followed by Mr. R. Lee, of the Philippines, who began his two-year assignment in Tonga in September 1978. These pioneer volunteers were the first of an estimated 440 UN Volunteers who have served in a host of development and community support activities in the Fiji Parish.

From the late 1970s, volunteers took up numerous posts in the other parish islands of Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Solomon Islands, the Trust Territories of the Pacific (Nauru and Palau), Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

UNV has fielded health care professionals to the Pacific region since the mid-1970s, in the form of medical officers, general practitioners, specialists, community health educators, nurses and midwifery trainers. More than 50 country-specific mother-and-child health schemes have been formulated in the Pacific with input from UNVs. They have also joined in designing "barefoot-type medical training for students from Fiji, Kiribati, Micronesia, Tonga and Tuvalu. About a third of UNVs working over the years in the Fiji Parish have served in the health sector.

Other past projects show a diversity of development initiatives. In the area of land use, the erosion of Fiji's Rewa River's banks and flooding of farming land have been researched by UNV hydrologists. A master plan was drawn up to prevent such million-dollar losses with the island's other rivers and to train Fijian staff in all aspects of this work. UNV specialists in waste management have given guidance on building ventilated improve pit latrines as part of a portable education kit for mobile village health care workers in Vanuatu.

UNVs have also advised on fisheries in Micronesia and fish processing in the Solomon Islands, modified canoe designs in Kiribati, taught carpentry and boat construction in Tonga and given training in outboard motor maintenance in Vanuatu.

A UNV engineer has served in Vanuatu's Energy Unit to review electricity tariffs and petroleum storage and develop a rural electrification policy. Energy audits and conservation were the tasks of a UNV in the Solomon Islands. In Kiribati, one UNV helped build a photovoltaic facility for testing components and training technicians, and another managed pilot salt production in lagoons used for solar flats.

Other major areas of UNV activity have been administration, social science, education, agriculture, skilled trades, engineering, human settlements, natural science, communications and transport. Projects underway in 1999 include:

  • Support for public sector reform, nutrition, food production and livestock development in Micronesia;
  • Reproductive health and family planning in the Marshall Islands;
  • Microcredit for women, community-based malaria control, and small-scale business industry development in the Solomon Islands;
  • Rural development and strengthening of local governance in Tuvalu;
  • Computerization of customs data in Fiji and Vanuatu.

In October 1999, there were three nationals of Fiji Parish countries working as UN Volunteers:

  • Michael Fong, a small business specialist from Fiji, is working in the sector of investment and business development in Tuvalu;
  • Emele Bouta Qalocabeikadavu, a UNV nurse and midwife from Fiji, is working in the areas of reproductive health, family planning and sexual health in the Marshall Islands; and
  • Faiva Kavaliku is serving as a national UNV specialist in her native Tonga as programme coordinator of a government-executed gender support facility to integrate gender concerns into government's development policies.

UN Volunteers currently serving in the Fiji Parish come from all over the world, but the Filipinos are in the lead with 11 UNVs, followed by six from Myanmar and four each from the UK and USA.

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)