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Safeguards enhanced as RISE heads towards construction in communities

7 February 2022

RISE Fiji and Indonesia teams have been working together with community representatives over the past two months to ensure the highest levels of safety are upheld when construction of RISE’s infrastructure starts in informal settlement communities.

Before construction contractors set foot into communities, RISE held interactive training sessions on the roles that communities, the program, government and construction companies will play in order to maintain a safe environment for children, women, vulnerable groups and residents. Under new rigorous safeguards, this network of stakeholders will work together to form a protective net and can report grievances.

The safeguards align with the standards and policies of RISE’s construction funding partner in Indonesia, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

In Makassar, local NGO Lembaga Perlindungan Anak (LPA) facilitated the training. For RISE Indonesia Coordinator Fitriyanty Awaluddin, the training is not a top-down process from the program, but a chance to work with communities on shared values and responsibilities.

‘RISE has a zero tolerance for incidents that may compromise children’s rights, as well as exploitation and sexual harassment,’ Fitriyanty explains.

‘It’s been incredibly productive to work with the residents – who are the ones opening the doors to their community for this infrastructure – to assess together the risks that could occur on-site, and agree on mitigation, management and grievance mechanisms’.

Safe communities during construction will also involve practical measures, like making alternative pathways to accommodate children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly.

This lens of creating safe spaces is also what RISE Fiji focused on during their training, beginning late last year. RISE Fiji Coordinator Isoa Vakarewa says, ‘we have dived deep into issues of access, as well as identifying potential ways to engage vulnerable members of the community.

‘It was important for us to identify gaps that might exist when it comes to safeguarding, and put in place systems that ensure that issues that do arise are documented and can be escalated if need be for timely action’.

Vakarewa says the training was also beneficial for RISE Fiji’s community fieldworkers, who –while not involved in the infrastructure construction side of the program – regularly interact with residents when they visit settlements to collect samples as part of the ongoing environmental and human health monitoring part of the program.

Momentum coming into the new year has been strong. Suva City Council in Fiji is in the process of signing off on build plans, and RISE will soon start engaging with local construction companies in Makassar, Indonesia.

Cover image left to right: RISE Indonesia Coordinator Fitriyanty Awaluddin, and Fadiah Machmud and Warida Safie from NGO Lembaga Perlindungan Anak facilitate the training.