THE acronym N.G.O. is now ubiquitous.
Non-Government Organisations: why do they exist and for what reason? Who are they and how do they operate? Where are they operating from and most importantly of all, for whom do they operate? These are really healthy questions.
According to Wikipedia an NGO is an organization that is neither a part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business. Usually set up by ordinary citizens, NGOs may be funded by governments, foundations, businesses, or private persons.
To consider the above questions and definition, let us bring our consciousness to our shores.
Solomon Islands is a nation of villages. Before our villages were drawn into the modern government system they had their own governance structures in place.
In the words of Solomon Islands Development Trust’s founder, Late Dr John Roughan, NGOs are as old as the first village meeting.
This simply confirmed that the village setting as the host of the first NGO in the Solomon Islands.
In this regard, when individuals in these villages organize, plan and implement their strategies its evidence of people putting their heads together.
From those first village meetings were formed Solomon Islands’ first NGOs.
Leaders in our tribes, clans, settlements, villages have managed to group themselves in safety then that makes our today.
Today, these villages still have groups of planners and implementers, but sadly their local strengths and capacities are now being faced, disturbed and overturned with other external influences.
The modern governance system now in charge have demarcations to coordinate village governance – eg Provinces, constituencies, wards, districts etc.
The village setting and its committees (eg. Village committees, women and youth groups etc) should by now taste what is like of being belittled in terms of managing their resources, and traditional set-ups.
There are national and international NGOs working in the Solomon Islands in a range of activities and across a number of sectors as currently experienced.
They can be useful groups that compliment or provide alternative approaches to Government activities that are meant for worthy courses.
Village committees and groups are no exception to participate.
In today’s world, most NGOs have to work hard to secure funding to implement or complete their plans. Some NGO’s become the conduits to channel funding through to work on short term engagements and projects around the world.
Local experts were sometimes utilized by other international NGO’s to reach out to the local population.
Despite of who they are or how they operate, healthy NGO’s complement or provide alternatives to government programs and the various target groups they work with.
Sometimes NGO’s will have to be vocal on how Government implements its policies. These are helpful maps that will help government track its course more precisely. Government can also utilize NGO services to deliver relevant knowledge and skills to the population.
SIDT is an example of an indigenous and local NGO in the Solomon Islands that emerged, May 6th 1982 with the goal to improve the quality of Village living.
SIDT put strong emphasis in its development awareness that the village setting is the core of Solomon Islands.
We need to protect and improve the village setting so that our natural beauty, resources and the traditional governance system/s and the villages’ action plans are paid the attention that will be more socially, environmentally and financially profitable for the Country.
It is advisable that when working in the Solomon Islands, both local and international NGO’s should work with local knowledge and strengths taking into account the issues surrounding the traditional governance systems as such can be a pillar to maintain peace and order.
When the time is ripe, bridging the gap between our Government, NGO’s and our People will be a national action.
The Current DCC government is putting in more efforts towards addressing rural development issues.
It can be an opportunity at which NGO’s and Village Committees (eg the House of Chiefs/ ward committees committees/ main village committees, etc) can share resources together to serve our Nation in relevant fields.
It’s not about being first; rather it’s about serving our village people better and honestly- through participatory approaches, and inclusiveness.
People have to be organized first before we have thousands of first NGO’s.
In our local context, it starts from the village, the base and root of every Solomon Islander. Please respect the village setting taking into account their strengths and weaknesses and simplicity.
Rich or poor as they are but they are satisfied with what they have. They are a unique settings Solomon Islands should not do away with.
On 6th May 2015, SIDT turned 33, this track record allows SIDT to have a wealth of experiences in working with village people.
Please visit us (SIDT) at New China town and we can share our experience of how we do our work as one of the Country’s indigenous and pioneer National lead NGO in the Solomon Islands. Email us [email protected] or on phone 23409 or 21131.
By LONGDEN MANEDIKA
Solomon Islands Development Trust