Three years ago, people from the village of Koronatoga in the coast of Cakaudrove East, were vulnerable to water-borne diseases. Their water supply was contaminated and they were exposed to diseases while bathing, washing, drinking water, or by eating food exposed to the only water supply in the village.
They have had many reported cases and some required hospital admission because of its seriousness.
This was shared by village headman Isoa Vatuqari who said despite their desire to improve on their water supply, their applications for assistance failed many times because they lacked basic documentation and requirements.
All these changed when the Yadrayadravi Accountability and Monitoring Project was implemented in 2018 by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Fiji– aimed at improving capacities of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in Fiji to foster governance and accountability.
Funded by the European Union, one of the three key focus areas of the threeyear pilot project are improving community co-ordination and engagement into policy dialogue in collaboration with multi-actor partner. It was through this collaboration that ADRA Fiji worked together with the iTaukei Trust Affairs Board (ITAB) and Cakaudrove Provincial Offi ce, training villages in Leadership and Governance principles, and formulating the Integrated Village Development Plan (IVDP) for the 134 villages in the 15 districts of Cakaudrove.
ADRA Fiji provided training to the 134 communities and local groups and individuals on VDPs with the emphasis on budget concepts and principles. With the formation of the VDPs for Koronatoga Village, securing the muchneeded assistance was easy thus led to the improvement of their water supply. “When I took up the role of village headman, there was no enlightenment as yet.
Then came the iTaukei Affairs Trust Board and ADRA to conduct awareness and enlighten us with their programs and were trained on good governance,” Mr Vatuqari said. “We witnessed a lot of positive changes after the program was implemented. We were able to plan out development for the village through the integrated Village Development Plan. Before, it was done anyhow without any proper planning. We managed to put together a fi ve-year plan and personally, I have achieved what many village headmen didn’t achieve in the past.
“First on our plan was our Water Project – this is an essential need for us in the village so we had to follow the proper procedures – something we learned from the program sending out the necessary applications and we were fortunate that we had an organisation stepping in to assist us and approved of our application for assistance.
“We have our old water source, but it affected the health of many in the village. Many got sick – some cases were serious and required hospital admission so our water was really a major concern for us. Through the training received, Mr Vatuqari said they were able to write letters to raise their concerns and sent them to the Ministry of Health and Office of the Provincial Administrator before an NGO came on board to assist them with all necessary materials for their new water source. “Right now, we are enjoying clean water supply from our new source and that is because of the enlightenment from ADRA through its program – upskilling us and improving our capacity in areas such as letter writing. We didn’t know all of these before, especially procedures to follow.
Also, with a Development in place, it was easy for organisations to assist us. “We used to depend entirely on Government assistance before but now, after being enlightened, we have lots of development achieved.”
Another major project achieved through their VDP is fencing for the village cattle farm where they were able to secure assistance from Government. The cattle farm is part of their plan for further development in the village whereby each cattle owner has his own contributions to the village to assist with development.
Through the program, teamwork, commitment and dedication were birthed and many projects have materialised under the guidance of their integrated Village Development Plan.
“We also have kava farms which we will sell to assist in the education of our children. A lot has transpired after the program was implemented. Koronatoga used to be looked down upon by the others, but the program has united us and recently, we won the competition for being the cleanest village in Cakaudrove.”
Yadrayadravi Accountability and Monitoring project manager Pauliasi Tuilau said there were other positive impacts stories recorded that were achieved through the project. The project has also strengthened institutional CSO’s capacities in the fi – nancial management-accountability, networking and participation where ADRA Fiji partnered with USP to identify their (CSOs) capacity needs and aligning training accordingly to those needs.
“We established Institutional Capacity Development Program at USP for the 30 local CSOs in Cakaudrove where six areas were covered in financial management, strategic planning, human resource management, proposal writing, standard operating procedures and monitoring & evaluation,” Mr Tuilau said.