More than 250,000 people in Fiji live in poverty and many more live on or just above the poverty line. Communities in rural areas suffer the most extreme consequences of this poverty.
Many schools in these rural areas are in poor condition and lack basic materials. Poverty forces many children to drop out of education and many do not continue beyond primary school level. Away from the classroom, there is a lack of extracurricular activities. Children in rural communities are often forced into a future of limited education and opportunity. Children, especially in the outer islands have no access to sporting clubs, sports equipment or resources, and a lack of sports structure and development within schools and communities.
With a population dispersed over a multiple of islands, efficient delivery of health care, education and other social services is incredibly difficult. There have been increases in youth crime and drug abuse in Fiji due to lack of work opportunities, limited positive role models and an absence of organised youth schemes and extra-curricular activities.
Within Fijian society both women and young adults face additional hurdles. Women are less likely to receive tertiary education or gain access to jobs. Youth unemployment and urban drift are increasing in Fiji, with rural communities left with a severe lack of skills, training, support and available income.
Fiji is recognised throughout the world as a tourist destination – picturesque beaches and palm trees. Not many people are aware that in the rural villages, roughly one third of Fiji’s population live in poverty. Many communities are heavily disadvantaged, many children are denied the basic opportunities in life and many families struggle to meet their daily needs.