Work together, Forum told

Civil societies, public servants and development partners have been told to work together to foster durable alliances that facilitate genuine development solutions for Samoa.

The message came from Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, during the opening of the second annual Civil Society and Public Forum at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel yesterday.  

Tuilaepa highlighted the importance of “union is strength if (we) work together.”

“The objective is not only to build civil society capacity but strengthen their advocacy level at community and national level…(to) encourage assistance from key developing partners behind C.S.S.P (Civil Society Support Programme).”

An example that Tuilaepa used was men in the village who work the land. 

From experience, he said if you work alone you would not get far. But working with others produces better results.

 “If there are ten men, they would work together in one man’s plantation and then the next day they will move to the other one. In that way they get a lot of work done quickly and together…that is the whole point of working together, to join strength.”

After the opening, one of the presentations was delivered by C.S.S.P. Technical Assistant, Satui Saolotoga Solomona – Bentin. She spoke about the emerging issues faced by Civil Societies in Samoa. 

She made reference to the C.S.S.P final evaluation report that highlighted issues such as growing poverty, a limited number of non government organisations (N.G.Os) compared to community based organisations (C.B.O) and the dependency on donors.

According to a background document at the forum, despite advances in accessibility of services, the engagement of the government in service delivery and development policies and recent improvements in the economic performance of Samoa, poverty rates are not decreasing. “Factors behind this poverty include (but are not limited to) the small size of the formal labour market and also social exclusion which reduces the effectiveness of traditional safety nets,” the report reads.

“Young people are becoming particularly affected by poverty and social exclusion due to the lack of employment opportunities with the unemployment of qualified young graduates becoming a growing phenomenon.”

Satui also pointed out that another problem is the low number of N.G.Os versus the increase of C.B.Os. 

She said the issue lies within the asymmetric relationship with members where service delivery is done individually in advocacy rather than creating coalitions. 

 A way forward is to ensure genuine engagement of C.S.Os in the different sectors and to strengthen this through national processes and activities such as the community sector plan and programmes. 

The forum aims to create an enabling environment to promote information, knowledge and resource sharing for better understanding and improved alliances. 

Its objective is also to scale up communication and networking activities involving public authorities, sectors and C.S.Os to facilitate mutual recognition and alignment of priorities that promotes complementary development.  Public and civil societies are also encouraged to empower in order to assist their communities through practical solutions that is supported by government and development partners. 

The forum continues today.

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