What we did: We developed the capacity of public interest groups in Fiji to engage with government on policy.
What we achieved: Representative institutions learned to engage in a democratic and effective way to improve public policy and practice, and to hold political decision makers to account.
Who we did it with: The European Union, Citizens’ Constitutional Forum, Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding, Dialogue Fiji and Media Watch Group
Impact area: Political Participation and Representation
Donor: European Union
Project name: Upholding Citizen’s Constitutional Rights for Democratic Consolidation in Fiji
Award period: 2018 to 2020
Boundary partners: Public interest groups, electoral management bodies
International IDEA implemented an EU-funded capacity development project with civil society groups in Fiji during the years 2018 to 2020, with a goal of enhancing their relations with state institutions and building community-based interactions on political accountability.
The project was evaluated in 2021. Four Fijian civil society groups were involved: the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum, the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding, Dialogue Fiji and the Media Watch Group. The project included two national public forums, four meetings between citizens and members of parliament, six local-level community-based dialogues, and three local-level social accountability workshops.
The evaluation team found that workshops opened opportunities for citizens to put forward complaints and queries on government services. One of the interviewees in the evaluation noted that there had been no direct interaction between citizens and governmental decision makers in Fiji prior to this; another said that it provided a unique space for citizens to express concerns.
Government officials acted on some of the complaints raised in the discussions and this contributed to improvements in the lives of ordinary citizens. For example, participants in Nausori argued that the region had been neglected, resulting in deteriorated road conditions and public spaces, garbage collection delays, and lack of enforcement of environmental regulations. After the meeting, the authorities agreed to meet and improvements were forthcoming.
Some meetings stimulated citizens to organize themselves. A Community Development Committee was established in Nadi to identify needs in the community and consult with relevant authorities on how to address these challenges.