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SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 29) – The Fiji government is aware of the large number of squatter settlements springing up in the Suva-Nausori corridor and has estimated that 100,000 people live in the 200 squatter settlements in the area, says Ministry of Social Welfare's director housing, Alec Fatiaki.

He said, however, there was a general lack of readily available and accurate figures.

"It is estimated that there are about 200 squatter settlements comprising of about 100,000 people within the Suva-Nausori corridor area having the greatest volume and highest rate of growth," he said. "The average growth rate would probably be in the vicinity of 6 per cent per annum."

He said this trend had been a notable feature of urbanisation over the years.

"The settlements in peri-urban areas and outside of town boundaries in particular have probably had the largest growth," he said. "The bulk of these people would come from semi-rural and rural areas. Some have found work in the labour market with low or irregular income.

"Some have moved as a result of expiring land leases or negative changes in their employment circumstances."

Mr Fatiaki said there was a definite need for more substantive policy. "There is no single or simple answer to addressing the situation, however, some important strategies would include a more holistic and participatory approach and integrated action by stakeholders as well as major capital investment," he said.

Mr Fatiaki said it was anticipated the recent census would offer reliable statistical information, however, it is unlikely to capture information on the income and expense levels of squatters.

His minister Adi Laufitu Malani said yesterday that the ministry was undertaking a socio-economic study to determine the salaries of the squatters and whether they were genuine squatters.

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