CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

What Difference Does Citizen Participation Make?

Posted by civilsocietyindex on August 13, 2010

A cross-country analysis on the outcomes of citizen engagement helps to fill the gap in our understanding of the impacts of participatory approaches to development.

Supporters of bottom-up policy approaches to development have been bolstered by a recent study that identified a range of positive outcomes – many hitherto unrecognised – that result when citizens get involved in the institutions that affect their lives. The study, from the Development Research Centre on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability (Citizenship DRC) at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), has been well received by policy makers at a time when international donor agencies are under increased pressure to justify their budgets to the public. At a gathering earlier this month organised by Oxfam, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: ‘To the British taxpayer I say this, our aim is to spend every penny of every pound of your money wisely and well. We want to squeeze every last ounce of value from it.’

In a recent synthesis study, ‘So What Difference Does It Make? Mapping the Outcomes of Citizen Engagement’ by by John Gaventa and Gregory Barrett, Citizenship DRC researchers reviewed the results of 100 original, qualitative case studies, largely from the developing world. Using a Meta case study approach, the researchers coded over 800 ‘outcomes’ linked to various forms of citizen engagement. An Executive Summary of ‘So What Difference Does It Make’ is also available. The most surprising finding from this project is that there are a host of intermediary outcomes resulting from citizen engagement that donors often fail to recognize. The paper also underscores the importance of associations in fragile contexts, and of social movements in more well established democracies.

There is also a recent IDS Working Paper by Naila Kabeer entitled ‘NGOs’ Strategies and the Challenge of Development and Democracy in Bangladesh’. The paper shares the results of a quantitative study on the impacts felt by the rank-and-file members of six NGOs in Bangladesh, ranging from strict micro-credit lenders to rights-based social movements. Findings from the research indicate that organisations that were purposively designed to promote the identity and practice of citizenship among the working poor and that utilised methods of social mobilization do contribute to political empowerment and voice, which in turn raises peoples’ expectations from the government. The expectations lead to a demand for accountability and thus provide an opportunity for collaboration between the government and the grassroots organisations to enable an effective mechanism for accountability and transparency of local institutions. This is perhaps not surprising, but the quantitative results also produced some very unexpected conclusions. Organisations concerned with rights have had unexpected impacts on developmental indicators such as food security and diversity of diet, while Grameen Bank, one of the organisations considered to be a minimalist micro-credit lender, appeared to have a larger range of positive impacts (including on the likelihood that members vote) than organisations with broader missions. The findings are now helping to promote a wider dialogue on these issues among stakeholders in Bangladesh.

To read the full article click here Wp343 NGOs’ strategies


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Armenia Case Study: Financial Sustainability

Posted by civilsocietyindex on August 12, 2010

The CIVICUS CSI implementing partners in Armenia, Counterpart International, have posted Youtube videos in which they speak about the case studies that they chose to undertake as part of the implementation of the index in Armenia. In the videos, Lusine Hakobyan (national coordinator for implemenation of CSI at Counterpart International) and Mane Tadevosyan (researcher) speak about the process of selecting the cases studies and the findings of the research that they conducted. They also speak to the implications of the findings and how they contribute to developing civil society in Armenia. Below is one of the video diaries on the case study on financial sustainability of civil society organisations in Armenia.

To read the full case study click here FIN-Eng_web

To read the Armenia Country Report from the 2003-2006 phase, click here

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Culture of Volunteerism in Armenia Booklet

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 29, 2010

The publication is a culmination of the research done by Ms. Mane Tadevosyan and Ms Lusine Hakobyan, the national coordinator for the CIVICUS Civil Society Index in Armenia, a project within Counterpart International.

The booklet outlines the pattern of civic participation in volunteering in Armenia using three main focus areas; the regulatory environment, motivations behind volunteerism and volunteer management practices in an effort to inform policy makers on ways of improving volunteer contributions.

 UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Mr. Dirk Boberg launched the booklet in Armenia and he said that it is intended for the use of the general civic society, including students, volunteers, civil society activists and authorities and decision makers.

The information provided by the booklet is greatly informed by the study done using the CS Index which provides a quantitative and qualitative methodology for assessing the different conditions in a country that influence the civil society in the country.

 The Culture of Volunteerism is published in Armenian and English and was funded by the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) Programme. 

To read the full volunteerism case study please click here:Volonterism_Eng-web

To learn more about the CSI project in Armenia, please visit

For more information please visit

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ISTR in Istanbul: written by Megan MacGarry

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 23, 2010

Megan MacGarry is a Civil Society Index Programme Officer at CIVICUS House in Johannesburg, where she has been based since March 2010

My colleague Jacob Mati and I recently attended and presented papers at the 9th Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) in Istanbul, Turkey which ran from the 7th to the 10th of July 2010. The week proved to be an amazing opportunity for me to meet Civil Society Index (CSI) partners; the people behind the scenes, who are implementing every stage of the project, dealing with every triumph and challenge, and who are the very life of the project.

It was fantastic to meet and interact with these CSI partners at the conference and to see our project being used in everyday life and to not just observe from behind a computer screen in Johannesburg. Being new to both CIVICUS and CSI, and a Programme Officer for just four months, the conference certainly has helped me to better understand and enjoy my work with partners. To be part of a project with such history and scope as CSI, and to know that you are helping to track and measure civil society in places such as Armenia, where there has previously been very limited investigation or research possible into civil society can give a really significant feeling of accomplishment.

For me, the CSI became a living programme in Istanbul not least because it gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with current and past CSI implementers, as well as other researchers and friends of CIVICUS. What struck me in particular was that both CSI and CIVICUS seem to have impressive reputations and that they are generally well received and respected in the academic world. Working across continents and in different regions, usually in the bubble of email and telephone, can sometimes obscure these realities.


During the conference itself, I was fortunate enough to attend numerous workshops presented by our implementing partners, and the conference itself was warmly and very successfully hosted by our Turkish partners, the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV). Throughout the conference, it was impressive to see what relatively small civil society organisations can achieve when operating with limited resources but extremely dedicated staff.

The success of our partners has certainly made the CSI team proud. On one afternoon, I attended a half-day workshop, hosted by the Black Sea Trust, which brought together Black Sea regional CSI implementing partners to discuss commonalities in strengthens and weaknesses they had found in the civil societies within their countries. The afternoon proved to be a particularly productive, interactive and rewarding process and, I think, highly beneficial not only for the active participants but also for observers. In fact, Jacob and I both learned so much rich information about the region, the countries, our partners and even our own programme. This can only help us work better with our partners in the future.

A day later in the conference, along with our Japanese implementing partners from Osaka University and our academic partner from Heidelberg University, both of us presented papers in a session on CIVICUS Civil Society Index findings, entitled “Building On Knowledge in Strengthening Civil Society Around The World.” The session had the following paper presentations: “Comparing the Old and New Methodology of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index: Many Improvements and Some New Problems” by Michael Hoelscher, from Heidelberg University. “Imperatives for innovations in civil society: Reflections on experiences in the implementation of CSI (2008-2009)” by Jacob Mati, from CIVICUS CSI. “Do Action-Research Projects have Impact? Insights from the Civil Society Index Programme’s Impact Assessment” written by myself, and “The Japanese Civil Society at a Crossroad: Findings from the CIVICUS CSI Project” by Naoto Yamauchi and Midori Matsushima, from Osaka University. The panel session was very well attended with approximately 50 people present, including the chair of the CIVICUS Board, implementing partners and numerous interested parties. It was also moderated by Beniam Gebrezghi from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Overall, the week was a thrilling and invigorating – if not exhausting – experience. Meeting researchers and practitioners from around the world, active in civil society and the third sector, and hearing about new ideas and current trends, such as increasing threats to civil space and new ways civil society are responding to challenges and difficulties, meant that there was so much to take in. The conference showcased the work of some of the most accomplished and thoughtful researchers and scholars in civil society and philanthropy from around the globe. ISTR is now an established and well-regarded international association promoting research and education in the fields of philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and civil society. The hope is that it will continue to provide as excellent a forum for the development and dissemination of knowledge as it did in Istanbul this July. If it can do so, there may just be success in building a much-needed global community of researchers and scholars to better assess the emerging trends and challenges of the third sector.

For more information about ISTR and the conference: and

Posted in Asia, CIVICUS News, Country News, Europe | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Building understanding in Georgia

Posted by civilsocietyindex on May 19, 2010

On March 26 the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD) organised a National Workshop in the framework of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index in Georgia.

The National Workshop aimed at building a common understanding of the current state of civil society and a joint action agenda for civil society strengthening initiatives.

At the workshop, CIPDD presented results of the conducted research. Participants worked in small groups and afterwards presented results of their joint work in the plenary sessions. 

 The event was organized in the office of the Open Society Georgia – Foundation.


Click here to check out the original story and the website of the CSI partners in Georgia, the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD).

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Armenian and Turkish civil society come together

Posted by civilsocietyindex on April 12, 2010

On 8 April, Counterpart International Armenia and the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV) convened a highly significant workshop as part of the Cross Border Cooperation Initiative, supported by USAID and the Black Sea Trust. During the meeting, representatives from both countries came together within the framework of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index project to discuss and reflect upon the findings within each other’s countries. Participants also took the opportunity to identify similarities, differences and areas for possible collaboration.


Turkish and Armenian civil society participants work with each other during the Cross Border Initiative meeting

Below, watch what Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS, had to say to participants at the historic workshop in her video message:

On 9 April, the following day, Counterpart International Armenia held their National Workshop. The National Workshop is a crucial component of the Civil Society Index project, and provides an opportunity for representatives from across society, including CSOs, government, the private sector, academia and the media, to reflect on and learn from the CSI findings, and strategise for action initiatives to strengthen civil society.

Participants discuss action to strengthen civil society at the Armenia National Workshop

Below, watch what Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS, had to say to National Workshop participants in her video message ahead of the meeting:

Posted in Asia, CIVICUS News, Country News | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Secretary General praises Counterpart International Armenia and TUSEV

Posted by civilsocietyindex on April 6, 2010

In the latest edition of CIVICUS’ weekly newsletter, e-CIVICUS no. 481, Ingrid Srinath, the Secretary General of CIVICUS, draws special attention in her editorial to the work of Counterpart International Armenia and the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV), CSI partners in Armenia and Turkey respectively, to build bridges through  the Cross Border Cooperation Initiative.  

Click here to read the full editorial.

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Update from the CSI project – 15th March 2010

Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 15, 2010

Below, Mark Nowottny, Civil Society Index Programme Officer, takes his turn to highlight some of the key developments in the CIVICUS Civil Society Index project over the last couple of weeks.

In the coming weeks, the External Impact Assessment Report from the CSI will be posted here on this blog – check back here soon.

You can find out more about the Cross Border Initiative between Armenia and Turkey by clicking here.

You can find out more about Megan MacGarry, the CSI team’s new Programme Officer working on Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, by clicking here.

Keep checking the CSI blog for fortnightly updates from different members of the Civil Society Index team!

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Creating space for cooperation: Counterpart Armenia heads to Turkey

Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 2, 2010

Following a video update last week, this week Counterpart International Armenia, CIVICUS’ partners implementing the Civil Society Index, report in more detail on the Cross-Border Initiative.

On February 18, 2010, an unprecedented step was made in Turkish-Armenian civil society cooperation. A group from Counterpart International Armenia travelled to Istanbul, Turkey, for a two-day working meeting with the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey, or TUSEV. The trip was the first activity in the Cross-Border Cooperation Initiative, a continuation of the CIVICUS Civil Society Index (CSI), generously supported by USAID and the Black Sea Trust. While Counterpart Armenia is implementing the CSI in Armenia, TUSEV is carrying it out in Turkey. The goal of the Cross-Border project is to compare Turkish and Armenian civil societies, find similarities and differences, and create future opportunities for cooperation between organisations on the two sides of the border. 

The working meeting at TUSEV addressed many important issues. The two organisations first presented their research findings in the framework of the CSI, discussed similarities and differences in the civil societies of each country and discovered areas in which they can share experiences and learn from each other.

The two teams set the framework for the future activities to take place within this initiative. The structures and formats for the outputs of the project, the comparative study and the joint workshop were discussed and agreed upon. The next steps include carrying out the joint comparative study of the two civil societies and a reciprocal visit by the Turkish CSI National Implementation Team to Yerevan in April 2010, to attend Counterpart Armenia’s National Civil Society Conference. During this Conference, a joint workshop will be held dedicated to the Cross-Border Cooperation Initiative.

Counterpart was also able to meet with representatives from many Turkish CSOs that are working with Armenian organisations such as the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), the Hrant Dink Foundation, Agos, and the Bahçeşehir University. During these meetings other cross-border projects were discussed and many areas for future cooperation were identified.

Looking beyond this Initiative, both organisations are hopeful that the activities carried out within its framework will lead to more opportunities for interaction and cooperation between Turkish and Armenian CSOs.

Below, watch a feature video produced by Counterpart International Armenia on the initiative

Posted in Asia, CIVICUS News, Country News, CSI Impact, Reports | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Armenia and Turkey working together in Istanbul

Posted by civilsocietyindex on February 23, 2010

Lusine, CSI project coordinator in Armenia, talks about the new cross-border initiative being conducted by Counterpart International Armenia and TUSEV within the framework of the Civil Society Index. Supported by the Black Sea Trust and USAID, the initiative brings together civil society in Armenia and Turkey.

Last week, representatives from Armenia visited TUSEV offices in Istanbul and met with key civil society organisations, as well as identifying the strengths, weaknesses, outcomes and findings of CSI implementation in the two countries.

You can also check out further updates on Counterpart International Armenia’s Facebook page:

Lusine from Counterpart International Armenia and Zeynep from TUSEV in conversation about what the intiative means for cooperation between CSOs in the two countries. Click here (Facebook only).

Arsen from Counterpart International speaks about what’s been going on during the meetings, and reflects on some of the key CSI findings and comparisons between the two countries. Click here (Facebook only).

On the first day of the Istanbul trip, Lusine introduces the initiative and some of her hopes for the week ahead. Click here (Facebook only).

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