CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Guinea Civil Society: Between Activity and Impact

Posted by civilsocietyindex on May 17, 2011

CIVICUS is pleased to announce the publication of the Civil Society Index (CSI) Analytical Country Report from Guinea. The project was implanted in Guinea by the National Council for Civil Society Organisations in Guinea (CNOSGC), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and CIVICUS.

The CSI scores suggest amongst other things that overall, Guinean citizens have a fairly weak level of engagement in civil society actions, and that levels of citizen participation in civil society and the associational life of Guinea remain relatively low. This is due, the report suggests, either to a lack of knowledge about the notion of civil society and its role, or a lack of technical and financial resources to enable citizens to actively meet societal needs. Meanwhile the external environment dimension, assessing Guinea’s political and legal context, had the lowest score. This suggests that the Guinean state, relying on its political, constitutional and economic power, does not create a favorable environment for the development of civil society. It is important to note that during the CSI research process, the change of regime that occurred in 2009 will likely further affect the extent to which the Guinean environment enables civil society.

Some of the strengths of Guinean civil society highlighted in the report include the existence and diversity of CSOs, commitment by CSOs to their mandate to serve the vulnerable and poor, close proximity of CSOs to grassroots communities, and an effort to mainstream gender in programmes and policies. Weaknesses of civil society in Guinea include a poor understanding of the concept of civil society, political infiltration of some CSOs, low financial and human resource capacity, and an absence of self regulatory and transparency mechanisms.

Suggested recommendations endorsed by a national workshop held in Conakry on 9 April 2011 include developing a new national civil society communication and information network; instigating and adopting a new code of ethics; initiating a new advocacy strategy for the greater involvement of civil society in the development, implementation, funding, monitoring and evaluation of government policies and of decentralisation. They also suggested that the CSI study should be repeated periodically in order to track and assess trends and the direction of change in Guinean civil society.

To read the full report click here

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CSI Tanzania Report 2010

Posted by civilsocietyindex on May 11, 2011

CIVICUS is pleased to announce the publication of the Civil Society Index country report from Tanzania. The project was implemented in Tanzania by the Concern for Development Initiatives in Africa, ForDIA, with assistance from the United Nations Development Initiative (UNDP).

The implication of the report is that Tanzania civil society is growing and developing and is performing fairly well, but not strongly. While the structure of civil society is assessed as over the halfway mark, Tanzania recorded low scores for levels of non-partisan political action and CSO membership. Levels of self-regulation and participation in umbrella CSOs are also ranked low. Other challenges identified include inadequate resources, CSOs being largely urban based, lack of democratic leadership, and political interference in civil society activities as well as a lack of skilled personnel in the sector.  Strengths of the sector include the wide variety of CSOs covering a range of issues, promotion of joint advocacy efforts through umbrella organisations and political will from the government to recognise the activities of civil society.

Following the publication of the report in Tanzania, four national task teams have been set up to address the four dimensions covered by the CSI analysis: structure, environment, values and impact. Each team has five members, charged with developing a work plan and implementation strategy to address the weaknesses identified in the CSI report. With constitutional review underway in Tanzania, this process of strengthening civil society collaboration instigated by the CSI findings is timely.

To read the full report, click here

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Engaging Together for Real Change

Posted by civilsocietyindex on May 6, 2011

CIVICUS is pleased to announce the publication of the Civil Society Index country report from Senegal. The project was implemented in Senegal by Forum Civil, with assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The report tells us that Senegalese civil society has strong values but a weak structure and the environment for its work are relatively weak. The study also shows that civil society has a noticeable impact on Senegalese democracy and the country’s development, but this too could be improved.

Values of collectivity and collective action are part of Senegalese culture, and it is upon these values that civil society can build its forces. Senegalese civil society has contributed towards improving good governance in the public sector at national and local levels. It has been working to strengthen democracy, to build a law abiding state and to promote human rights.

The generally recognised weaknesses of Senegalese CSOs are their lack of ability to plan, monitor financial management, sustain human resources and follow up their programmes and actions. Civil society promotes transparency but does not sufficiently practice what it preaches. Above all, CSOs have shown themselves little able to work in synergy on a long term basis in order to combine their forces and attack the problems of the Senegalese people. There are also weaknesses in the mobilisation of the population in the long term so as to ensure CSO impacts.

Nevertheless, the report identifies that a new generation of civil society members is present today. This generation wants to play a role in the political context, the equal sharing of resources, prevention and handling of conflicts, instilling a law abiding state and enabling efficient citizen participation in managing affairs that affect their lives. Senegalese youth wishes to take its country’s destiny into its own hands, and it is notably very critical of leadership examples and the working of state structures, even of civil society structures.

To read the full report click here

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AGENDA Launches Civil Society Index CSI Report

Posted by civilsocietyindex on April 6, 2011

Actions for genuine Democratic Alternatives AGENDA have launched the Civil Society Index CSI Report on Liberia.
The CSI is a multi-dimensional action oriented research that a the Liberian Civil Society fewer than five dimensions: Civic Engagement, Level of organization, Practice of Value, perception of Impact, and External Environment.
The research implores series of tools including; focus group discussion, three population surveys, external actions civil society, coupled with the desk review of civil society literature and a national workshop.
The nine month project was funded by Trust Africa based in Dakar in Senegal, Humanity United based in California the USA, and CIVICUS- World Alliance based in South Africa. Guidance for the project came from a 20 member advisory committee which included members of Civil Society organizations, Private Sector, multinational organizations, international organizations and government agencies. The overall objectives o0f the Project was to establish an existence of an active and effective national and international platforms for knowledge based actions for strengthen of civil society.
The launch which coincided with the third anniversary celebration of AGENDA took place at a dinner held at a local hotel in Monrovia and brought together a cross section of civil society actors, government representatives, the business community, and the media.
AGENDA is a collaboration of local and international activists working together to promote citizen’s participation in the governance process

Read more…

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Civil society in Morocco: ripe for change?

Posted by civilsocietyindex on April 4, 2011

CIVCUS is pleased to announce the publication of the Civil Society Index Analytical Country Report from Morocco. The report, authored by L’Espace Associatif in Morocco, was made possible by the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Social Development, Family and Solidarity in Morocco.

The report presents a picture of a country with a credible and effective civil society sector, but one which operates within some strict parameters. As the report puts it, “Freedom of speech is limited by ‘red lines’ imposed on all kinds of media (from written press to mass media). Those ‘red lines’ are the King’s sanctity, Western Sahara and Islam.”

The Civil Society Diamond resulting from the CSI gives a visual expression of the five dimensions that the CSI studies, presenting a more optimistic picture than the initial perceptions of the Advisory Committee. In the diamond, the perception of impact dimension gets the highest score (61.8%), ahead of the practice of values dimension (59.2%). The external environment for civil society is ranked slightly worse (57%), while the level of organisation (50.5%) and civic engagement (43.1%) get the lowest scores. In absolute terms, when compared to the maximum theoretical score of 100%, these performances remain modest.

Turning to the strengths and weaknesses of civil society, the report finds that the three main assets CSOs have are proximity and involvement in citizenship, a track record in social and human development, and credibility, independence and a willingness to engage. The key deficits reported are inadequate financing, opportunistic behavior, and lack of independence and favoritism.

In addressing these obstacles, CSOs suggest they need to improve their efficiency in searching for financing, to improve their human resources skills and bases, and to promote more active civic engagement. Significantly, the report notes that improvement in the legislation for civil society is also needed.

The CSI report, a milestone for the North African country at a time of potential upheaval, reveals a picture of a Morocco civil society which has experienced huge and diversified development and which is founded on participation and volunteer work, with its purpose and impact highly valued by both the population in general and key external stakeholders.

This high potential for development is however held back by lack of finance, lack of workforce, and the barriers these present to autonomy and professionalisation.

The focus of global attention shifted to North Africa and the Middle East while this report was being prepared. Coming at a critical moment, this report casts new light on citizen action in Morocco, suggesting that the path ahead for positive transformational change lies in collective work, shared structures and democratic partnership.

To read the full report, click here.

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The State of Civil Society in Rwanda in National Development

Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 31, 2011

The CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) is pleased to announce the publication of the CSI report from Rwanda. The project was implemented in Rwanda by the Conseil de Concertation des Organisations d’Appui aux Initiatives de Base (CCOAIB), with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

As far as civil society structure is concerned, the study looked at a number of indicators pointing to the breadth of citizen participation, charitable giving, volunteering, collective community action, civil society activities, civil society membership and civil society geographical distribution. Generally, weaknesses prevail within this area, with only charitable giving and collective community action appearing to be strong.

Against this, on the whole, Rwandan civil society is felt to adhere strongly to positive values, such as anti-corruption, gender equity, poverty eradication, tolerance and democracy promotion. However, the study also reveals that Rwandan civil society has weak spots around encouraging governmental transparency and environmental protection.

Some of the recommendations that the report makes include improving partnership between the state, private sector and civil society, strengthening CSO voices in lobbying and advocacy, find ways of minimising dependence on and influence by external donors by strengthening and diversifying domestic fundraising techniques, and concentrating on ways of boosting the capacity of civil society to hold the government accountable for its decisions.

To read the full report, click here

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Status of civil society in Zambia

Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 30, 2011

CIVICUS is pleased to announce the publication of the Civil Society Index (CSI) Analytical Country Report on the state of civil society in Zambia. The country implementing team for Zambia used multiple methods which combined primary and secondary data to gather information. Three surveys were conducted: a Population Survey, an Organisational Survey and an External Perception Survey. Besides these, a combination of other outputs was included, such as five case studies. These focused on different aspects of civil society, including its sectoral and geographical coverage, accountability, impact on policy and corporate social responsibility. The research measured the five core dimensions of the CSI: Civic Engagement, Level of Organisation, Practice of Values, Perceived Impact and External Environment. The five dimensions are represented in the Civil Society Diamond below:                        

All the dimensions received similar scores in a range between 57.11% and 60.79%. 

The relatively low score for civic engagement has been credited to the fact that most people in Zambia spend more time dealing with meeting the pressing need of making a living in a country with widespread poverty. Despite this low involvement however, civil society in Zambia is very organised with established infrastructure and communication, however there are still problems in terms of transparency in CSO decision making as well as financial and human resources challenges. CSOs in Zambia are seen to practice democratic values, and to have significant involvement in policy processes, despite the lack of institutionalisation of their participation. In as far as the external environment is concerned, it was found that the socio-economic, political and cultural context is not enabling the full realisation of essential civic and political liberties.

A revision of the NGO Act is cited as one of the recommendations in the report in order to accommodate the various types of CSOs in Zambia. It is also suggested that Zambian CSOs should lobby government to institutionalise citizen involvement in the policy making process. Dialogue between state and civil society is needed particularly on issues of governance, participation, human rights and the rule of law.

The Civil Society Index (CSI) was implemented in Zambia by the Zambian Council for Social Development, with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and technical support form the CIVICUS CSI Team.

 To read the full report, click here

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Zambian Sectoral and Regional Distribution of Civil Society

Posted by civilsocietyindex on February 23, 2011

The case study on the Sectoral and Regional Distribution of Civil Society in Zambia was carried out in Zambia by the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD), the Civil Society Index (CSI) project partner in Zambia.

 The case study was aimed at identifying the sectoral and regional distribution of civil society in Zambia. It shows the different CSOs in Zambia and how they are distributed between sectors and regions. One of the hypotheses that the case study was based on was that civil society organisations operating in Zambia are fairly balanced in their distribution across regions and sectors.

 The study found that education, youth and child development organisation have the highest number of CSOs in Zambia at 43% and this could be attributed to the fact that these 3 areas are a key priority for donors at the moment. It was interesting to note that the Health and Nutrition, Gender, Agriculture, Land and Trade thematic Groups stood at less than 10% and this could have a lot to do with the criteria employed by the donors when allocating funds. The concentration of CSOs is high in the sectors that receive more funding.

The need for Apex NGOs and ZCSD to come up with a programme to promote vibrancy and migration of CSOs to regions outside the line of the railways was noted as one of the recommendations in the case study. Another recommendation was that there is a need for ZCSD to consider realigning its membership register to sectors and regions, so that it can be easy for any development player to make use of such a register to avoid duplication of interventions by others, especially when planning for activities.

 

The full case study can be accessed here

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Accountability in Zambian Civil Society

Posted by civilsocietyindex on February 22, 2011

The case study on the accountability of Zambian civil society was carried out in Zambia by the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD), the Civil Society Index (CSI) project partner in Zambia.

The case study on accountability sought to “generate information on the status of accountability in a selected sample of civil society organisations in Zambia. That is, its will investigate if there are any accountability mechanisms, how they are employed to enhance accountability among CSOs in Zambia, and what improvements are necessary to increase the practice of values.”

The study has shown that CSOs need both internal and external accountability mechanism for them to for fill their role as the third sector of government. Evidence shows that there are a number of accountability mechanisms in place. These include financial and administrative mechanism, policy and procedures manual, holding of AGMs and submitting of annual returns to the register of society. The CSOs have strived, even under difficult circumstances, to ensure accountability. However this cannot be said for all of them, as there are still pockets of CSOs that are still facing difficulties in this area. The study is of the view that the accountability process in Zambia have inbuilt weakness as there more inclined to saving the interest of the most influential and powerful interest groups such as donors. The study therefore concludes that there is need to look beyond technical managerial accountability mechanisms and focus more on enhancing participatory accountability processes with emphasis on empowering the beneficiaries.

Some of the recommendations from the report include: CSO self-accountability mechanisms and that from outside the sector should be supportive of each other; CSO self-accountability mechanisms should not only focus on financial and administrative processes of accountability, but more on enhancing participatory approaches, and that Accountability should enhance stakeholder participation in governance. Future programmes should focus on the root causes of weak accountability relationship between CSOs and the beneficiaries.

To read the full case study, click here

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Domestically engaged, internationally, not: The state of Liberian civil society

Posted by civilsocietyindex on January 11, 2011

Over 55% of Liberian citizens are actively engaged in civic life, a percentage that can be considered quite progressive for a country less than 10 years out of a civil war. This result, which came out of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI) report for Liberia released this week, illustrates a strength for Liberian civil society to address the many challenges the country faces.

Yet, not all results from the CSI report were as positive: the report also highlights the isolation of Liberian civil society. Only 2.7% of civil society in Liberia is linked or connected to the international community. The number is even lower when looking at civil society organisations (CSOs) outside the Liberian capital of Monrovia. Lack of funding and poor access to information and communication technologies mean that Liberian CSOs operate in close to complete isolation from the international civil society and development communities.

Despite this, and other challenges facing Liberia’s civil society, the report highlights remarkable successes in its ability to effectively influence public policy. The CSI report also provides evidence that civil society space in post-conflict Liberia may broaden, ensuring that citizens are given increased room and opportunity to contribute to policy and  decision-making. 

The CSI, coordinated by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, is an action-research project designed to increase knowledge on the state of civil society at the national level in order to develop strategies for action and improvement.  In Liberia, the CSI National Implementing Team, coordinated by AGENDA and with financial support from TrustAfrica and Humanity United, compiled the report, entitled ‘Beyond Numbers: An Assessment of the Liberian Civil Society. A Report on the CIVICUS Civil Society Index 2010’. AGENDA’s implementation of the project is the first in the West African country.

CIVICUS would like to commend all those who were involved in the implementation of the CSI and the publication of the Analytical Country Report in Liberia. 

Click here for the full report.

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