Direct cash transfers from Save the Children to vulnerable Fijian families successfully enabled them to manage the impacts of COVID-19, with a new report showing 85% of households used the funds on food and other basic needs such as clothing, water, rent, or home repairs.

Vulnerable households also used the cash to purchase cleaning and hygiene products to keep their homes COVID-safe during the height of the pandemic.

This first phase of Save the Children’s cash transfer project assisted 16,772 households affected by the pandemic and recent tropical cyclones.

A total of 49% of families surveyed by Save the Children reported putting some money toward their children’s education.

Recipient Saimone, who lives in a village in Tailevu said the assistance came just in time after his pregnant wife went into labour.

“The whole of Saturday and Sunday I was thinking about where I can get the money,” he said. “I had a call that my wife gave birth. I don’t even have one dollar in my pocket.”

It was only at the hospital that Saimone was able to breathe a sigh of relief. “I picked up my phone, then I saw the message that I got the $200,” he recalled.

“That cash, I spent on the baby,” he said, explaining that he purchased nappies and paid for a taxi to bring his wife and their baby home. “During those three or four days they were in the hospital, I could go and look after them and bring food for them during lunch hour and at dinner time.”

Between December 2020 and June 2021, a total of 14,772 households received four monthly payments of $100 as part of the program, while a one-off payment of $400 was made to 2,000 families.

Parents reported that the cash assistance reduced their stress levels, provided a sense of dignity, and empowered families to meet their own needs.

Another recipient, Kiniviliame, lives in a public housing block on the outskirts of Suva with his five children and said he is grateful to Save the Children for the assistance.

“The night I received the text message, to tell you the truth, at home we had nothing at all,” he explained, gesturing to the kitchen. “My water and electricity bills were piled up.”

I told the children that we had a blessing. The next day we went out to buy things that we did not have at home, especially the basic needs for every day,” he said. “I took that $200FJD to do the shopping for my family. I paid for my bills as well.”

A total of $6.7million FJD was distributed to vulnerable households in the first phase of the project, which was from December 2020 to June 2021.

Save the Children worked through a rigorous process with the Fijian government and civil society partners to identify households eligible for cash transfers. The project targeted transfers to vulnerable families who had lost income due to Covid-19, prioritizing single-parent households and those with young children, elderly or unwell people, persons with disability, and survivors of gender-based violence.

Save the Children recently completed transferring payments for the project’s second phase (September 2021 to January 2022), reaching its target of assisting 39,000 households. More than $23million FJD was transferred in total.

“We know cash is the most efficient and effective way to empower people affected by the crisis – and COVID-19 continues to be the most pressing emergency Fiji faces today,” said Save the Children Fiji CEO, Shairana Ali.

“Countries around the world continue to experience devastating waves of COVID-19, and Fiji is no exception. The third wave of the pandemic, compounded by the impacts of recent disasters, has shuttered businesses and closed schools across the country. We hope these cash transfers can help families to make ends meet in these difficult times. We are also conscious that children are the most disadvantaged during any humanitarian crisis and therefore, we are pleased to see that parents and guardians are utilizing cash assistance to meet the immediate needs of children. Cash assistance is a game-changer and during the Covid-19 crisis, has been life-saving for many families in Fiji. We are grateful to our private donor and both government and civil society partners for their support in making this program a success”

Please visit our website www.savethechildren.org.fj for more information on the program.

Disclaimer: The project is now closed and we are no longer accepting any new applications.

For media inquiries, please contact Fiji:

coletta.king@savethechildren.org or kelly.vacala@savethechildren.org