The lack of proper drinking water, inadequate health facilities and battling the effects of climate change were highlighted as some of the major issues of concern for the 12 villages in the Serua/Namosi province who were represented at the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum’s two day Grassroots Budget workshop in Navua this week.
Through the workshop, the Turaga ni Koro’s and representatives from Veivatuloa, Waidradra, Nakavika, Serua, Yanuca, Vunaniu, Mau, Namaqumaqua, Namelimeli, Naitata, Lobau and Nakavu have been equipped with the knowledge and understanding to identify critical issues which affects not only individual families, but the entire village and the province and ways to prepare proposals for the Ministry of Finance to consider when the National Budget is being drawn up.
“Many of these villages still do not have access to proper drinking water and many villages located along the coast and along the Navua river have identified the urgent need for proper seawalls and flood banks to be constructed to safe guard their homes and their livelihoods” says CCF CEO Reverend Akuila Yabaki.
“Over the two days, CCF’s Education team facilitators provide the participants with examples of how to prepare submissions on the identified project, who to address it to and methods to ensure their concerns are given proper consideration when the various government Ministry or Department makes its submission for development projects to the Ministry of Finance,” says Rev Yabaki.
Officials from the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Agriculture also made presentations to the participants on avenues available to make their concerns heard by following the proper channels as a means to access assistance and funding for the identified development projects.
“The Provincial Administrators and other participants also said what was worrying was that they were not made aware of the actual allocations contained in the national budget which affect them.” They say if they are promptly made aware of the allocations, they would be able take necessary steps to get these projects implemented,” says Rev Yabaki.
Presentations were also made by officials from the Intergrated Human Resource Development Program from the Ministry of Strategic Planning, Transparency International on monitoring of the government budget and by officials from the Intergrated Rural Development program from the Commissioner Centrals Office on day one of the workshop.
Response from the participants have been very encouraging and many said they were grateful to learn how the national budget relates to them and the fact that it is not just for Government, provincial councils and business people, but grassroots participation is vital to ensure they find ways and means to improve their standard of living and have equal opportunities in development activities.