Suva, Fiji, 30 November 2020 - The COVID-19 Community Awareness and Preparedness in Informal Settlements project, funded by UN-Habitat’s Global Emergency Response Fund helped 70 communities in Fiji to support over 40,000 vulnerable people. 

The project, which ran for five months and was carried out with the Ministry of Housing and Community Development, worked with young people in informal settlements, many of them unemployed, to share their experience with COVID-19 through art. Amelia Kolodisia from Cunningham settlement in Suva said: “Painting our community mural was the first time I had witnessed youth from different areas of the settlement working together.”

The project aimed at understanding how COVID-19 restrictions are affecting people, either through art, traditional dialogue or surveys and then designed activities to address the issues identified as priorities by communities.

The project also supported households in informal settlements struggling to obtain nutritious food during the pandemic through container farming. Informal settlements often have limited access to land for farming or the land is affected by climate-related hazards such as flooding. COVID-19 restrictions have also impacted the ability of those in informal settlements to afford nutritious food. Container farming is a simple, low-cost solution that allows families to grow their own food and 800 households received seeds, training and monitoring support.

Sikeli and Bulou Bete, a young couple, took over their parents’ backyard garden and helped guide  urban farming activities. They inspired Deepika Devi, a resident from a neighbouring settlement, who said: “Before visiting Sikeli and Bulou’s garden I thought I would never be able to grow her own food because of the lack of space.”

The project worked with representatives of informal settlements to implement and monitor the activities which included distributing hygiene materials and information to  households and answering questions on COVID from community members.