Looking at sustainable livelihoods for those worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is something that the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises Development or FRIEND is looking at through the timely assistance of $770,000 provided to the organization by the Australian Government.
FRIEND Director, Sashi Kiran says bulk of the funds will be used for the livelihood support program for those who have lost their employment.
Kiran says thousands of people continue to be affected.
She says they are working with communities who have natural resources and need little re-skilling.
Kiran says they cannot continue to just feed people as they need to have livelihood options to get ready cash because food is not the only need in the household as there are always other expenses.
Kiran says using the grant money from Australia, an Innovation Award will be set up for those with great business ideas with products that can compete in the new COVID world.
Each applicant will be supported with business counselling services, registration and mentorship for 3 months.
Kiran says since the pandemic struck last year, the Australian Government has granted FRIEND more than $1 million to help respond to the pandemic.
Since last year, they received $300,000 towards food security of Nadi and Lautoka.
These funds have been used to run the food banks in Nadi and Lautoka, provide for seedlings to those laid off from the tourism sector and for people living with disabilities.
In the last month FRIEND received $150,000 to help start food security program in the islands of Yasawa. This grant support is to ensure food security for children after the islands were badly impacted by TC Yasa.
Kiran says they are very grateful for the additional grant of $770,000 to continue response work in the pandemic stricken Western Division.
A small portion of the funds will be used to continue with the Food Bank in Nadi, TeleHealth and support for NCD patients.
Meanwhile Kiran says now that the Nadi and Lautoka borders have opened, the food distribution program will cease as families are able to start earning in the next two weeks.
Their focus will then be to help with livelihood support for families to ensure sustainable livelihoods in the new COVID world.
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