WHEN OFFICERS FROM Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) arrived on Sola on the island of Vanua Lava the island was buzzing with Super League football. They brought with them a blue plastic container that had been filled with Bislama Vanuatu Constitution books, Right To Information (RTI) brochures and posters, and loads of information to share with the people in Vanuatu’s farthest province.

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“Just because the RTI Bill did not make it through the First Ordinary Session of Parliament it does not mean that we have to slow down on our RTI community awareness program” explains Mr. Douglas Tamara who is the TIV Civic Education Officer, “however, it only pushes us to do more awareness because there is now more time to consult with the people and to encourage people to talk with their parliamentary representatives on where they should stand on the RTI Bill.”

The TIV team left on their first morning there and travelled south west to the community of Vureas Bay. Before talking with the community the team first visited Sanlang Primary School and talked with the teachers and before leaving the TIV team left several Vanuatu Constitution books at the school library for the students and teachers to have access to.

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At the community meeting house over 70 villagers patiently listened on as the team presented to the people a summary of what is inside the RTI Bill plus several examples on how the RTI Bill can effectively work in a rural community setting.

When asked if whether they wanted their Member of Parliament to support the RTI Bill or not the unified answer was a clear and loud ‘Yes’.

“This is good news that you have brought us today” conveyed a villager elder “and thank Vanua Lava 7you very much to the government for trying to push this Bill. With accurate information we can make development happen, this Bill should also be explained and consulted through the radio so that it can at least get a wider consultation.”

Later, the TIV team travelled down to the village of Kerebeta and held a brief awareness with the people in the community.

Mr. Elton Worus is a community leader at the Kerebeta village and looks after the community cooperative. After the awareness session he pointed out an interesting advantage of the RTI Bill, he explained that “a lot of people here are shy, they are just not comfortable to go and ask information at public offices face-to-face.”

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Mr. Elton said that “the (RTI) Bill is really good because it will make life much easier for people (who are shy) to ask for information because information requests could also be made through phone calls.”

The team later met up with Pastor Fred Abraham from Wesilat village and provided him some Vanuatu Constitution books and RTI brochures to distribute at his community, “these days information is important, much more important for us in the farthest parts of the country” he acknowledged.

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Transparency International Vanuatu also agrees with Pastor Fred, today information is Vanua Lava 6powerful and should be used for good development. Information should also be shared to those that are less privileged just because there are no roads to their houses, or there is no airport or a proper wharf on their island. Information should be accessible wherever you are.

TIV will continue to advocate on these issues because they matter to the people of Vanuatu, and if anyone from the public wishes to learn more about the Right To Information please contact us at Tel: 25715, Email: transparency@vanuatu.com.vu, or you can drop us a message on facebook.Vanua Lava 3Vanua Lava 8

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