The recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting that took place in Denarau island, Fiji, last week also saw the participation of non-government institutions.
Local non-government organizations that participated in the meetings held on the side of the ADB meeting included the Wan Smolbag Theatre, Vanuatu Association of Non-Government Organizations (VANGO), and a Port Vila Handicraft representative.
Monitoring and Evaluation Manager of the Wan Smolbag Theatre, Michael Taurakato, says he was invited to the meeting in Nadi to share his organization’s experience on working with communities in Vanuatu.
“Wan Smolbag worked with organizations such as ADB in the past in projects that ADB funded through the Government,” Taurakoto.
He said a lot of discussions at sessions of this meeting heard members of the civil society say they feel that ADB is not engaging enough with civil society organizations.
Taurakoto says ADB is like a bank that gives funds or loans for big projects to governments, which at times the civil society are left out.
“Organizations such as Wan Smolbag also worked in projects that were funded by the ADB or the World Bank in Vanuatu, especially in the awareness of HIV and sexually transmitted infections,” Taurakoto said.
Also present at the same meeting was Shirley Abraham, representative of VANGO.
She says a lot of people at grassroots level do not know how ADB is contributing to the development of Vanuatu.
“This meeting has helped a lot to look into the seven operational priorities of the ADB to see where grassroots can benefit from.
“I hope to raise awareness when I return to educate people on how they can have a say in funds or loans received from such organizations,” she said.
Abraham’s participation was possible through the Pacific Islands Non-Government Organization (PIANGO).
At the civil society organizations meeting there are booths and Vanuatu was the only Pacific country, apart from the host country, to display its products such as custom red mats from Penama and local baskets.
The handicraft organization at the Port Vila Market was represented by Rebecca Bule.
Bule says her participation was made possible through PIANGO.
She has called on civil society in Vanuatu to let its voice be heard more at such meetings.