The Foundation of the People of the South Pacific International (FSPI) is a network of NGOs which focuses on people-centred programs in Pacific communities that foster self-determination and self-reliance.

Many Southern CSOs and NGOs like FSPI advance the rights of southern citizens by promoting more effective states, essential services in health and education and the autonomy of diverse peoples. They view aid, not as service provision, but as support for their activities that promote social justice and self-reliance. This contrasts with many aid programs delivered by government agencies and development NGOs from rich donor countries like Australia.

Case Studies: Alternative Development Approaches

The Bismark Ramu Group (BRG)

The Bismark Ramu Group (BRG) is a grassroots civil society organisation. They work with communities in the Madang province of Papua New Guinea on local empowerment, education and community development. BRG don’t deliver aid; nor are they a watchdog or an advocacy organisation. They work with communities in PNG to help them to understand their own development rights and be in control of their own development futures. Campaigners from BRG travel long distances through PNG to meet with communities actually or potentially affected by ‘development’, most often when they are approached by large companies or international infrastructure projects to use their land. BRG provides the information and resources communities need to make informed decisions about their own development futures. They ask critical questions and assist communities to see the big picture, from promised short-term benefits of large-scale development to the long-term consequences of environmental upheaval.

Slum Dwellers International (SDI)

 SDI is an unorthodox and very effective international civil society organisation. The number of people living in slums is increasing every year, standing at around one billion today [1]. As a network of people who live in slums across the globe, SDI is an alternative to government and international agency aid and development approaches:

 “…SDI affiliates seek to remind the state and international agencies of their obligations with respect to equity. Since they question the capacity of these agencies to deliver, they constantly seek situations that enable those who are affected by poverty to become organised and united in ever-expanding networks, and to play a defining role in the way in which governments and multilaterals discharge their obligations to the poor.”[2]

The networks:

  • set up savings schemes that enable women to deal with crises and avoid debt cycles;
  • protect squatter areas from demolition by city councils or developers; and
  • protect women from violence, often perpetrated by states.


SDI’s radical approach, using international networking of the urban poor to support and share information internationally, challenges dominant development policy and practices.


Next page


[1] UN FPA ‘Population Issues’ Online Accessed 12th June 2008

[2] Accessed 29th October 2010