I recently had a chance to run a toolkit development workshop in Fiji, my second in the past twelve months. I don’t think anyone wold argue – Fiji is, in a lot of ways, an interesting country.
Most interesting to me, as a social accountability advocate, is how it is faced with social and political challenges that influence the good governance movement. It is also in these challenges that I think we can find opportunities to start germinating social accountability in Fiji.
One is putting together a social accountability agenda specifically targeting policies and mechanisms that strengthen participatory decision-making in the country’s governance processes.
Two, any social accountability initiative requires a deep sensitivity to socio-cultural nuances, particularly leadership practices. Fiji/Pacific countries have particular leadership practices and customs along traditional/cultural lines, religious/church systems, and the formal/institutional systems. In reality, however, the boundaries between and among these three are so permeable; this situation has often resulted in “leadership confusion” among ordinary Fijians.
Finally, there is a need to build and enhance the capacity of stakeholders in several areas, among them participatory governance and leadership practice, which is the focus of the toolkit. The partnership between FSPI and ANSA-EAP is designed as a two-step activity, with the toolkit development as the first step and capacity-building as the second. Thus, if available resources allow, there is a need to come up with a more focused mapping of learning needs that would be the basis for a capacity building framework and design that is tailored to the particular needs of the country and the Pacific region.
I am interested to see how we – ANSA–EAP and our Fijian partners like The Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific (FSPI) – can push this agenda further.
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