The residents of Vunidogoloa village in Koroalau now have more reason to celebrate, and anticipate a better future after being provided with assistance to generate income for their families.

The Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Mr Jone Usamate confirmed that the residents have been provided with funding by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to purchase pineapple plantlets to initiate a plantation and materials to build a copra drier for the villagers.

“This will assist the affected families to get back to their normal life and will ensure sustainable income generation and most importantly maintained sufficient source of food security during any disaster, specifically tropical cyclones,” Mr Usamate said.

The residents of Vunidogoloa are being relocated to a new site since this year due to rising sea levels, flooding and soil erosion. Government’s intervention through the Ministry of Provincial Development, National Disaster Management and the Ministry of Labour saw the construction of new houses in a new and safe location not far from the village.

The project is a joint venture with the Commissioner Northern’s Office, the ILO and the villagers themselves, where volunteers from the National Employment Center employed by the Ministry of Labour are constructing the houses.

Minister Usamate said that of 30 the houses planned to be built, 29 have been completed while one (1) is expected to be completed by this month.

The residents expressed their gratitude towards Government and ILO officials for all the assistance provided.

Village elder Mr Manoa Rokotovitovi, in accepting the itaukei traditional protocol (isevusevu) showed his deepest gratitude towards the government for their care.

“We thank the Government for showing such compassion and love to help us, we have not only been blessed through the developments in the construction of the new houses but also through the assistance of the Ministry of Labour and the ILO, we are now going to engage in business ventures through the copra drier and selling of pineapples. This is only possible through your assistance. We have a general feeling that we will have a happy and enjoyable life,” Mr Rokotovitovi said.

Mr Usamate said there are many opportunities available for the Vunidogoloa community to engage in business ventures and the Ministry is working closely with the residents and the Seaqaqa Research Station who are supplying the villagers with pineapple plantlets, to identify more areas of development that could assist the residents to generate income to support their families.

Meanwhile, to ensure the project’s efficiency and effectiveness, the Ministry is documenting the Standard Operating Procedure for the ‘Cash for Work Plus’ project.

“As the Ministry is moving towards ISO Certification we are ensuring that all our procedures are documented for effective and quality service delivery. In terms of this project we would like to ensure that this redress initiative to natural disaster is highly efficient,” Mr Usamate said.

The Minister expressed his sincere appreciation to all stakeholders for their commitment in making this project a success, especially, the Ministry of Provincial Development and National Disaster Management for engaging the unemployed persons registered with the National Employment Centre and the volunteers for their commitment towards re-building the lives of the Vunidogoloa residents.