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Today on World Population Day we look at Coffey’s work in civil society, a sector which—alongside government and business—is essential to ensure the continued social and economic growth of developing countries.

A strong civil society can make real and lasting change in the community. Well organised civil society helps citizens to better voice their needs, advocate change in government policy and law, and organise to solve problems in their community. Coffey has worked with civil society across Asia Pacific, in the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Timor-Leste, Cambodia and most recently in Fiji, through the Australian Government’s Fiji Community Development Program, completed in May 2017.

We understand what works – and what doesn’t

We know that development programs are only successful if they deliver long-term, sustainable results. Our approach to working with CSOs is based lessons learnt across our experience in delivering CSO support across the globe for clients including the Australian and UK governments.

In our review of the Fiji Community Development Program—a program that surpassed expected results within three years—we looked at its achievements and how Coffey’s approach to engagement will result in long-lasting, effective change. Here is a summary of what we found.

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1. The relevancy of CSO support
With ongoing support, CSOs can continue to be effective partners for reaching the most poor and marginalised in Fiji, and can complement national disaster risk management planning and response activities.

2. CSO engagement and management
The structure and flexibility of funding support significantly influences organisational stability and the ability to deliver projects

3. Gender equality and social inclusion
Effective community development programs and projects require explicit gender equality and social inclusion objectives to enable them to adequately address inequality and exclusion.

4. Community engagement practice
Funding and support for community engagement, like FCDP’s Community Action Program model, can dramatically improve CSO practice and outcomes for communities.

5. Integrated support model
Combining funding and capacity building support is the most effective way of sustainably enhancing organisational capacity, and programs need to be structured and resourced accordingly.

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6. Strengthening the CSO sector
Collaboration between the CSOs has benefits for the sector, for individual organisations and for the beneficiaries they serve – a mechanism to facilitate CSO networking and knowledge sharing is required.

7. Fit-for-purpose capacity building support
Capacity building support needs to respect CSO diversity and be tailored to individual CSO needs and priorities.

8. Government engagement
Cooperation between CSOs and government can enhance the impact and sustainability of support to communities.

About the Fiji Community Development Program (2012-2017)

Coffey managed the Australian Government’s Fiji Community Development Program from 2012 until 2017. The grant funding and capacity building program aimed to deliver lasting social and economic benefits to the people of Fiji through strengthened civil society organisations. FCDP surpassed its original five year targets, providing support to more than 123 CSOs, and delivering support to more than 304,328 poor and marginalised Fijians.

Read more about the Fiji Community Development Program and its impact.