The military coups of 1987 and 2000 undermined long term CSO developments in the country, said Fiji Council of Social Services Executive Director Hassan Khan.
“After building up momentum for years, the impact of the 1987 coup undermined that progress,” Mr Khan said at the country reporting of National Liaison Units during the Pacific Civil Society Organisation Partnership on Development Effectiveness consultation which was held recently in Nadi.
The CPDE consultation was attended by over 40 participants from 12 Pacific island states from the CSO sector, strategic partners and local organisations hosted by the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs.
Mr Khan said it did not end there because after building up again after 1987; the 2000 coup led to more undermining; destabilizing the work that was being developed.
He said other areas that challenged the CSOs was the funding agencies coming in and instead of guiding the local infrastructure already established in training came in and used their own consultants which threatened CSO sustainability.
“During 2010 and 2011, funding agencies themselves took away the role that rightly belonged to FCOSS and the CSOs by organizing training themselves with ‘overseas’ consultants,” he said.
Mr Khan said the capacity building provided by these agencies negated the very reason grants were given.
“The CSO are being significantly affected by the economic polarization between the rich and the poor, between the rural and urban communities , the north Vanua Levu and Viti Levu development disparity, which are creating a growing social divide
“The CSO challenge is how to empower and strengthen the marginalized groups in a coordinate and collective manner, it is not only about economic upliftment but a holistic family and village development approach.
“Economic hardships are creating social pressures raising fears on division based on culture and religious diversities may lead further fragmentation within the society.
“The various ethnic, religious and geographic communities have an abundance of hidden talents, intelligence, spirituality and expertise that needs to enhance and harnessed to bring the needed social cohesion and value based communities in Fiji.
“The CSOs are being increasingly challenged in a number of areas, such as their values, space, programmes and work ethics are exploited, copied, duplicated, ideas stolen, and staff poached and even “bought off”.
“These are being done by international civil servants, consultants and even the civil service.
“Whatever, these are, they are very pale replicas of CSO spirit, enthusiasm and passion to serve to make the difference.”