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USP Vice Chancellor encourages a culture for research

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Dr. Morgan Wairiu - Acting Director, PaCE-SD with British High Commissioner to Fiji, His Excellency Mr. George Edgar.

“Research incentives and culture brings about innovative solutions for the Pacific region”, says the University of the South Pacific Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia during the launch of two reports relating to COVID-19 research by the University’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCESD) at Laucala Campus on 12 November.
 
“Research is vital to help support actions designed to respond to some of the most vulnerable challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has caused to our region and local communities,” he added. 
 
The reports are based on research carried out in Fiji and the Solomon Islands, titled “Assessing Nutrition and Socio-Economic Impact of COVID 19 on Rural and Urban Communities in Fiji” and a second version for the Solomon Islands. 
 
The reports were financially supported by IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) while research work that was carried out in Fiji and in the Solomon islands was built on a partnership  with the Foundation of Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND - Fiji), Fiji Government through the Fiji National Food and Nutrition Centre (NFNC) and the Naitasiri Provincial Administration. 
 
Kastom Garden Association carried out research in the Solomon Islands.
 
During the launch, Professor Ahluwalia acknowledged the close partnership of the Fiji and the British governments, FRIEND Fiji and Kastom Garden Association in supporting the efforts to conduct the assessments. 

Dr. Morgan Wairiu - Acting Director, PaCE-SD with Professor Pal Ahluwalia, USP's Vice Chancellor and President.

 
He also acknowledged the support of the University of Exeter, the Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning at McGill University, the University of Cambridge, the University of West Indies and the Universite d’etat d’Haiti (UEH).
 
“We celebrate the hard work of those involved in the preparation of the COVID-19 Assessment Reports.  
 
“We are living in exceptional circumstances; the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented and swift changes to all of our lives. As COVID hit our region, many countries and organisations intensified special efforts to keep agriculture safely running as an essential business, marketplaces well supplied with reasonable and healthy food, buyers able to access and procure food in the midst of movement restrictions and income losses,” Prof Ahluwalia added. 
 
The British government through the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) have been integral in providing funding for the Community Foods and Health (CFaH) and the Intervention Co-creation to Improve Community-based Food Production and Household Nutrition in Small Island Developing States (ICoFAN) projects within PaCESD. 
 
British High Commissioner to Fiji, His Excellency George Edgar, also acknowledged the research work carried out by the students and staff of PaCESD.
 
“One of the pleasures is discovering new aspects of the links of corporation between the UK and Fiji. The academic links between the United Kingdom and Fiji is flourishing and I am very pleased to be here today to see the project collaboration between USP and the Universities of Cambridge and Exeter.   It is great to see that cooperation happening in practice and I hope these collaborations will continue,” he said.
 
The CFaH project is designed to establish research programme to carry out high quality evaluations of community-based food production initiatives in low and middle income countries (LMICs). The ICoFAN project, on the other hand, focuses on evaluating society-led interventions to improve community-based food production in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
 
Acting Director of PaCESD, Dr Morgan Wairiu, praised the data collectors in Fiji and the Solomon Islands and acknowledged their work in getting the field work completed in strict COVID-19 conditions.
 
The assessments were conducted in nine communities on Viti Levu (Matawalu village, Naviyago village, Vakabuli village, Bila settlement, Drasa Civicivi settlement, Kalabu village, Muanikoso settlement, Molituva village and Vusuya settlement) and four peri-urban and rural communities on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands (Burnscreek, Barana, Ngalimbiu and Panatina (Mataruka).
 
The assessment were conducted in nine communities on Viti Levu (Matawalu village, Naviyago village, Vakabuli village, Bila settlement, Drasa Civicivi settlement, Kalabu village, Muanikoso settlement, Molituva village and Vusuya settlement) and four peri-urban and rural communities on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands (Burnscreek, Barana, Ngalimbiu and Panatina (Mataruka).
 
The reports found that in the Solomon Islands, preventative interventions implemented by the government of the Solomon Islands to safeguard their people affected the socio-economic status of its communities.  It also found that communities were living with reduced income from loss of jobs, decreased working hours and closure of markets as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
In Fiji, the findings suggested that COVID-19 had affected communities and households in Fiji, both positively and negatively.  It also found increased involvement in home gardening. 
 
Copies of the reports are now available online and can be downloaded from the PaCESD website using the following links; 
 
 
 


This news item was published on 23 Nov 2020 10:33:12 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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