Washington: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved US$48.9 million (FJ$106 million) in support for unemployment assistance and the creation of an estimated 10,000 jobs through the new Jobs for Nature 2.0 (JFN2) cash-for-work program in Fiji.
The additional financing for the World Bank’s Fiji Social Protection COVID-19 Response and System Development Project will support the creation of jobs (between three to twelve months in duration) for 10,000 Fijians through the JFN2 initiative, as well as covering two rounds of government cash assistance delivered in 2021 to more than 340,000 Fijians who had lost their jobs – whether formal or informal employment – as a result of the pandemic. The package will also support the strengthening of Fiji’s social protection system.
"The past two years have been extremely tough for Fijian families," said Lasse Melgaard, World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific, in a press release on Monday.
"With this additional funding, we are further boosting our support to Fiji’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the systems and processes needed to assist those Fijians who need help when they need it the most, especially women and youth, while simultaneously bolstering Fiji’s disaster and climate resilience," Melgaard explained.
This work is in addition to the earlier social protection package that was approved in February 2021, in response to Fiji experiencing its largest economic contraction in 2020 and 2021 following the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.
The JFN2 cash-for-work program is a community-focused program to create jobs for Fijians in rural areas across the country and will be delivered with the support of Fijian village cooperatives and civil society groups, including women’s and youth groups. The program will prioritize activities including wetlands protection (mangrove planting, seagrass planting, restoring waterways); riverbank rehabilitation and coastal bank protection (mangrove planting, vetiver grass planting); biodiversity improvement (forest restoration, land upgrade through native tree planting, coral reef protection); and waste and wastewater management.
The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Economy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Waterways and Environment, the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, the Ministry of Women, Children, and Poverty Alleviation, Fiji National Provident Fund; National Employment Centre within the Ministry of Employment, Productivity, and Industrial Relations; and Fiji’s Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism, and Transport.
This additional financing is an International Development Association (IDA) credit with highly concessional terms. The International Development Association is the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries.