Is there a need?
Given the presence of international NGOs in Fiji, is there a need for a local wildlife conservation NGO?
The answer to this question is most definitely yes. Local NGOs are best placed to embed conservation principles locally, through credible programmes and on the ground achievements. For all NGOs this takes a real determination, and is often best achieved through local action for local issues.
A national Fijian NGO’s agenda will be determined locally and is likely to be in Fiji’s best interests. Being run by locals for local benefit and being able to generate membership locally gives great strength to the local NGO’s voice. International NGOs’ agendas are not always adapted for the local context, and they may struggle to be as close to local communities as a local NGO.
The challenge for all NGOs is generating the funds necessary to achieve their vision, and to continue this over time. Successful conservation, especially community-based conservation, is not achieved in short time frames. As well as the financial resources required, it takes time, perseverance and consistent engagement on conservation issues to effect change.
For all NGOs there are administrative costs and overheads that need to be met. Initially these are typically met by the voluntary endeavours of a few dedicated individuals; however, this can not be sustained over time if the NGO has an ongoing function and if it aspires to succeed. This ongoing requirement for core support needs to be recognised as a critical success factor. Without this, the efforts of a few tireless and well-intentioned individuals typically die away over time. Doing ad hoc projects driven by funders is another possible outcome. To mitigate these risks, administrative support is vital from the outset and all prudent and credible NGOs do this with transparency and a lean attitude.
Local NGOs can learn much from their international counterparts as they are experienced and sophisticated fundraisers. Their grant application machinery, using the issues present in countries such as Fiji, shows that international resources can be attracted to conservation in Fiji. There is a perception that their presence has stifled the formation of a local conservation constituency and local conservation NGOs. However, the reality is that this may be a function of many other factors including timing, awareness by Fijians of their own heritage, and other preconditions for local NGO establishment not being met, e.g. dedicated individuals who have the determination to make this NGO happen.
Another common perception is that the international donor funding cycles dictate short-term projects, with reports of communities with unfulfilled expectations. Complaints of lack of follow-up and hopelessly inflated claims of success are able to be leveled at any organisation.
Such organisations are characterised by limited resources, a project approach, being donor driven rather than having a well-conceived strategy that engages properly with the local communities and attempts to understand and meet their aspirations.
NatureFiji-MareqetiViti understands the challenges and complexities that face the conservation of Fiji’s rich biodiversity. We are well placed to fulfill this important role with:
- a team of highly-experienced and dedicated locals who want to make the NGO successful;
- administrative support built into our plans;
- a developed programme focus;
- a passionate belief that a membership base will be a strength, with realistic plans to recruit supporters;
- commitment to developing the conservation heart of Fiji through programmes which reach school children;
- recognition that it cannot deliver conservation alone and will work with Government, and with others who share similar goals;
- a realistic financial projection.
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Nature Fiji understands these complexities, and we possess the skills, dedication, and expertise to sustain and maintain a successful local NGO.