The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) have joined forces to strengthen local market monitoring capacities in Fiji and Samoa.

For a region that is extremely susceptible to climate shocks and natural disasters, monitoring the impacts of these calamities is critical. By identifying, collecting, and analysing market information, the joint project will help government agencies in both countries to make informed policies when implementing disaster response activities, particularly those aimed at safeguarding household food security.

Taimalietane Matatumua, Assistant CEO, Policy, Planning & Communication Division of Samoa’s Ministry of Agriculture said, “The Samoa Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) is blessed to be part of this joint initiative between WFP and USP. We foresee the tremendous value in this project as it will strengthen the capacity of our newly established Agriculture Statistics Unit within MAF, and ensure that the outcomes of the research, assessment and monitoring system will enable data-driven policies and decision-making on food security in Samoa.”

Dr Viliamu Iese, Senior Lecturer (Climate Change, Food Security, Disaster Risk Management) at USP added, “The collaboration with WFP is crucial to understand the availability, prices, and diversity of foods in markets including central, roadside markets and supermarkets in Fiji and Samoa, throughout the cycle of disasters and different economic, health, and geological shocks. The research will also help to determine the minimum expenditure basket for food and non-food items of households in Fiji and Samoa.”

The Pacific-led project will localise research and contextualise tools for application when collecting market information. Understanding when, where and how households are economically accessing food before and after disasters is essential for the development of response policies to improve the food and nutritional security of the most vulnerable households. 

“The partnership with The University of the South Pacific is a critical component of WFP’s research, assessment and monitoring programmes in the Pacific. As disasters get more frequent and intense due to climate change, providing the right support at the right time is crucial, especially to the most vulnerable populations,” said Carlos Veloso, Country Director a.i of WFP’s Pacific Multi-Country Office. 

“Through this project, we want to give a voice to the beneficiaries of national social protection schemes and make sure that the data we collect reflects their needs as accurately as possible. By doing so, the partnership helps enhance data-driven decision-making for the Governments of Samoa and Fiji,” he added.

This story was written by Natasha Begum (The University of the South Pacific) and Maria Shumusti (WFP Pacific Multi-Country Office), originally published at World Food Programme (WFP) and USP on 23 March 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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