CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

CSI Sign of Impact of the week: Palestine

Posted by civilsocietyindex on September 25, 2009

Palestine: Engaging with Local Communities and Better Meeting their Needs

In Palestine, implementing the CSI has led to a better consideration of local community needs and marginalised people. The Bisan Centre for Research and Development (BCRD) implemented the CSI in the previous phase, and as Eileen Kuttab, Acting Director General of BCRD, explains:

The CSI has exposed the internal problematics of relations of NGOs with [the] local community, so I think that this gap is being more monitored and more emphasis is put on finding creative policies to reach marginalized groups through opening programs that permit equal opportunities and equal access to all groups and sectors of community.

In this way, CSI findings exposed a key shortcoming of Palestinian civil society. Later actions have sought to remedy this situation. According to Eileen Kuttab:

Due to evaluation of development practice, civil society organizations are becoming more sensitive to community practical and strategic needs and hence more engagement of the civil society in popular issues is picking up, especially in the context of the weak performance of the government as these organizations are providing more quality services for the people.

Better evaluation of civil society actions is thus leading to better practices.  She also points out that:

As our organization is a research organization, the findings have exposed some ways of how to reach people genuinely, and how to disseminate information as tools for empowerment in a popular way, and what kind of research issues we should emphasize at this stage. Following an action research methodology, research has become more relevant to feed in promoting development models that can be more effective in impacting the local community.

Increased research and knowledge about civil society has thus made development initiatives more relevant to local communities. She also says that, “in addition it is noteworthy to mention that some NGOs are more inclined to adjust their agendas to suit the needs of the local community which makes them more relevant and interesting to the public.”

Clearly, civil society organisations are changing their practices based on such findings. In short, some of the most successful recommendations that were implemented in Palestine are “[engaging] more with people” and “[conducting] projects that are more relevant to community practices.” By listening more to community needs, civil society organisations can do better work in Palestine.

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