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  • Building Peaceful and Tolerant Communities

    Dialogue Fiji Nadroga-Navosa:


  • The series of emblematic stories under the Strengthening Citizen Engagement

    in Fiji Initiative (SCEFI) were developed in collaboration with the relevant civil

    society organisations, with contributions from:

    ϐ Sonja Bachmann, UNDP SCEFI Coordinator

    ϐ Fane Raravula, Independent Consultant and Grant Facilitator

    ϐ Rusiate Ratuniata, Independent Consultant and Grant Facilitator

    ϐ Isikeli Valemei, Grants Manager, SCEFI programme

    ϐ Janet Murdock

    ϐ The stories were edited by Ms. Achila Imchen.


  • 3

    Rapid urbanization, a growing modern economy and demographic

    shifts are eroding entrenched ethnic divisions in Fiji today, and

    inter-ethnic tensions and conflicts over land-use and access to

    natural resources arise periodically. Promoting dialogue among

    different sections of the population has become critical for the

    peaceful resolution of conflicts. Dialogue Fiji Nadroga-Navosa

    (DFNN) is an organisation formed by social workers in the

    province of Nadroga-Navosa. In 2014, DFNN organised a training

    programme to develop much needed capacity and skill building

    among social workers and community leaders in facilitating

    dialogue processes. The initiative, made possible with funds from

    UNDP’s Strengthening Citizen Engagement in Fiji Initiative (SCEFI),

    was implemented through a series of workshops. It imparted

    training to 75 participants from across the province, setting a new

    way forward for building tolerant and peaceful communities in



    Building Peaceful and Tolerant Communities

    Dialogue Fiji Nadroga-Navosa:


  • 4


    Fiji’s Nadroga-Navosa province faces certain issues which give rise to

    disagreements in both traditional iTaukei villages and non-iTaukei

    communities. These include disputes over land and fishing ground

    boundaries, expiring land leases and evictions of tenants by landlords.

    In recent times, a substantial number of Fijians of Asian descent, who

    traditionally relied on leased land, have faced evictions upon expiration

    of their leases, cutting them off from a long-established way of life.

    Traditional iTaukei villages also face infighting among families, clans and

    sub-clans over land ownership.

    These underlying disagreements exacerbate minor conflicts, often

    spiraling them into situation of verbal and physical violence. People

    of Nadroga-Navosa, particularly youth, resort to alcohol and drugs

    combined with other problems such as domestic violence, rapes and

    teenage pregnancies. Despite these challenges, however, social workers

    in Nadrosa-Navosa lack essential skills and knowledge in resolving

    conflicts through a process of dialogue.

    In 2010, a group of social workers formed the organisation Dialogue

    Fiji Nadroga-Navosa (DFNN) to promote participatory and inclusive

    dialogue processes as a way to find solutions to the province’s diverse

    problems. DFNN is Nadroga-Navosa’s branch of Dialogue Fiji, a national

    organisation formed in 2008 by Fijian civil society leaders, academics

    and senior civil servants to achieve the following:

    ϐ develop inclusive dialogue processes to support and provide momentum

    toward finding peaceful and inclusive solutions to Fiji’s problems

    ϐ provide mechanisms for long-term conflict resolution and nation

    building to organisations and individuals in Fiji.

  • 5

    DFNN was formed after five social workers from Nadroga-Navosa

    attended Dialogue Fiji’s first national conference in June 2010. They

    realised that the issues discussed nationally were similar to those

    that they were grappling with in their province. They also began to

    understand how dialogue platforms could create safe spaces for

    parties to share their account of events with an audience, and the

    effectiveness of dialogue skills in conflict resolution processes.

    At the conference Dialogue Fiji offered support to participants in

    the form of capacity building workshops, trainings and information.

    Motivated by such support, the Nadroga-Navosa delegation collectively

    decided to form DFNN as an extension of Dialogue Fiji. Upon their

    return, those who attended the national conference formed DFNN’s

    first committee members, responsible for the growth of the network

    in the province. They also began to apply their acquired knowledge to

    the different social problems in the province (see Box 1).

    Photo Credit: Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding

  • 6

    BOX 1: From Theory to Practice

    The first significant resolution of a dispute through dialogue in Nadroga-Navosa

    was a boundary dispute involving two tribes over the fishing grounds in the

    mouth of the Sigatoka River. In 2010, fishermen of the two tribes entered into

    an argument over issues of trespassing which escalated to verbal abuse and

    eventually into fist cuffs. A vicious cycle of alcohol-induced retaliatory violence

    began, with one tribe assaulting vulnerable members of the other tribe and the

    other tribe retaliating soon after. Children and elders also suffered in this negative


    Penijamini Vakili, a Methodist clergyman and member of one of the

    tribes, had attended Dialogue Fiji’s national conference in June 2010.

    He convened a meeting of the two tribes to initiate dialogue, laying

    down rules to guide the dialogue process based on guidelines he

    had learned at the national conference. Both parties were given time

    to fully articulate their arguments and asked to refrain from coarse

    language when expressing anger, frustration or hurt, and to listen to

    the other party without interjections. Each tribe cited papers and maps

    to convince the other party of their claims to the larger portion of the

    fishing ground. A representative from the Fisheries Department was

    given time to deliberate on the law’s interpretation and explanation of

    the ownership claims. Upon hearing the Fisheries officer, both parties

    came to the understanding that neither had ownership over the fishing

    ground which lay with the Fiji government. Both, however, had the right

    to use the fishing ground. The iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission

    (TLFC), also present at the meeting, provided the legal boundaries of the

    fishing ground.

  • 7

    Another resolution at the meeting was that if members of one tribe

    wanted to fish within the boundaries of the other tribe, then approval

    had to be sought from the chief of the latter. A third resolution required

    that each tribe recount the wrongs of its members. Wrong doers were

    made to understand the gravity of their acts and asked to verbally

    express regret in the presence of those wronged. In return, the wronged

    parties publicly forgave those wrongdoers. With the implementation of

    the three resolutions, a positive cycle of engagement was initiated.

    Despite the formation of DFNN, its members were not equipped or

    certified enough to train others at a macro level. The organization did

    not have the knowledge or capacity to handle social conflict that arose

    in their communities. There was a need to accelerate the training of

    social workers throughout the province.

    Photo Credit: UNDP

  • 8

    PROCESS: TRAINING ONE TIER AT A TIME When the opening arose for a funding opportunity through UNDP’s

    Strengthening Citizen Engagement in Fiji Initiative (SCEFI), DFNN’s

    members viewed it as an opportunity. They developed a funding

    proposal to organize a training workshop based on the themes of

    transformation leadership, non-discrimination and inclusiveness, voice

    and choice and equitable service delivery. The objective of the workshop

    was to train social workers and community leaders in Nadroga-Navosa

    in the skills and tools of dialogue facilitation. The initiative was premised

    on the belief that closing this knowledge gap would greatly facilitate

    resolution of community conflicts without violence. DFNN’s proposal

    was approved for funding by SCEFI in 2014 (see Box 2).

    Photo Credit: UNDP

  • 9

    BOX 2. How SCEFI Supports Civic Engagement in Local Communities

    UNDP’s Strengthening Citizen Engagement in Fiji Initiative (SCEFI) is a three year

    project (2013-2016) aimed at strengthening peaceful and inclusive development

    in Fiji by enabling citizens to engage in community activities. It emphasises

    fostering democracy from the bottom up, and as such, the strengthening of

    collaboration between decision-makers and citizens. SCEFI is organized around

    six core themes: transformative leadership, non-discrimination and inclusiveness,

    equitable service delivery, accountability and human rights, voice and choice,

    decision making and coalition building.