CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Posts Tagged ‘Signs of Impact’

CSO Accountability Workshop in Sierra Leone

Posted by civilsocietyindex on October 29, 2010


CIVICUS has teamed up with Accountability Alert in Sierra Leone to strength the legitimacy, transparency and accountability of civil society in the country. We are hosting a 2 day multi-stakeholder workshop in Freetown on 10-11 November to launch the new national programme which seeks to raise the standard of governance within the NGO sector.

In Sierra Leone there is a pressing need for civil society to strengthen professional performance and ethical behaviour in order to address the commonly held perception that civil society organisations operate under a veil of secrecy.

There are high expectations of civil society organisations so stories of bad behaviour and hypocrisy often have a lasting negative impact in the sector. CIVICUS’ Civil Society Index (CSI) findings show that there have been high levels of financial mismanagement within civil society organisations, as well as weak internal governance and gender equity. Action must be taken to improve public trust and the credibility of the NGO sector.

There are huge amounts of foreign aid pouring into Sierra Leone with donors channelling funds into state-building, as well as providing financial support directly to civil society organisations. Accountability Alert and CIVICUS hopes to build a collective society voice that speaks out about the responsibility civil society has to adhere to agreed values and principles of accountability.

The workshop to be held on 10-11 November 2010 will be a key occasion for civil society organisations, beneficiaries, donors, INGOs and government officials to identify ways to strengthen accountability in the NGO sector. It will be an opportunity for civil society to define the models of legitimacy, transparency and accountability they want to adopt to enhance their efficiency and improve their reputation. We are very fortunate that the review of best practices will be informed by CSO accountability experts from DENIVA in Uganda and NWANGO in Cameroon, as well as CIVICUS LTA programme experiences.

The LTA Programme will report back on the progress of this important workshop and how civil society in Sierra Leone plans to tackle legitimacy, transparency and accountability challenges. CIVICUS are playing an instrumental role in bringing together civil society organisations together at a national level, alongside accountability experts and influential policy makers.

To read the full CSI Sierra Leone Country Report, click here

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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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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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The CSI at the International Society for Third-Sector Research 9th annual conference

Posted by civilsocietyindex on July 6, 2010

The annual International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR) conference is taking place this week from the 7th-11th July 2010 at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, Turkey. ISTR is a major international association promoting research and education in the fields of philanthropy, civil society and the non-profit sector. ISTR reflects the growing worldwide interest in Third Sector research and provides a permanent forum for international research, while at the same time building a global scholarly community in this field.

ISTR is one of the major international membership association and rec­ognized leader promoting research and education in the fields of civil society, philanthropy, voluntarism and the non-profit sec­tor. The Society is known for its commitment to excellence, its collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach, global outreach and values of diversity and inclusion.

Jacob Mati, CIVICUS CSI Senior Research Officer, and Megan MacGarry, CIVICUS CSI Programme Officer, will be attending the conference and both will be presenting papers in the session entitled: Building on Knowledge in Strengthening Civil Society Around the World Thursday, July 8, 2010, 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. The session will be chaired by Jacob Mati and other participants in the session will be Michael Hoelscher, Naoto Yamauchi and Midori Matsushima

The title of Megan’s paper will be: “Do action-research projects have impact? Insights from the Civil Society Index Programme’s Impact Assessment” and it addresses the question of how challenging it is to define the impact of action research projects. By using the Civil Society Index (CSI) as the principle example to extract insight and lessons from it, Megan’s paper will be an attempt to resolve the issues at play and begin the process of answering such a question.

Jacobs paper is titled “Imperatives for innovations in civil society: Reflections on experiences in the implementation of CSI (2008-2010)” and explores some preliminary findings from the 2008-2010 phase of the CSI.

Click here for more information on the conference,

After the conferences Megan and Jacob’s papers will be available online.

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CSI’s Impact in Uruguay’s National Media

Posted by civilsocietyindex on May 21, 2010

El Pais, one of the major newspapers in Uruguay, has reflected in one of its articles the CSI findings on the state of Uruguay’s civil society.

Please access the entire article by clicking here.

Uruguay: repercusión en los medios nacionales del ISC.

El periódico El País de Uruguay, reflejo en una interesante nota algunos de los hallazgos del Índice de la sociedad Civil (ISC) en ese país. El pasado Viernes, el Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo (ICD), quien fue el encargado de coordinar la confección del índice a nivel nacional, presento el resultado de mas de un año de investigación sobre el estado de la sociedad civil en Uruguay.

La nota, escrita por Sebastián Auyanet, resalta que las organizaciones del la sociedad civil en Uruguay si bien alcanzan un buena organización y tienen capacidad de impacto, aun no logran la participación de demasiados ciudadanos y tienen complicaciones en cuanto a la recaudación de fondos.

Los invitamos a leer la nota completa  clickeando aqui  clicking here

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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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Islamic fundamentalism and the internet in Egypt: CSI sparks debate

Posted by civilsocietyindex on February 15, 2010

In the 2003-2006 phase of implementation, the Civil Society Index was implemented in Egypt.

Now, research and discussion has emerged on the role that the internet plays in Egyptian civil society, with a specific focus on the case of the Muslim Brotherhood. The research uses as its starting point the findings of the CSI in Egypt in the 2003-2006 phase.

The research paper, titled “Egypt’s Changing Civil Society: The Muslim Brotherhood and New Media”, is available on the website of Ikhwan Scope. Ikwhan Scope describes itself, on its website, as “an independent Muslim Progressive and moderate non-profit site, concentrating mainly on the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement” which “hopes to construct a foundation in which all references about the movement are available to those who are interested in Islam and Islamic movements”.

Click here to visit the Ikhwan Scope website, where you can read and download the paper.

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‘Partner, not enemy’: Depoliticising civic space in Nicaragua

Posted by civilsocietyindex on February 5, 2010

This article was written for e-CIVICUS no. 473, the weekly CIVICUS newsletter, and is based on analysis by the Civil Society Index and Civil Society Watch programmes. It follows a field visit by CIVICUS to Nicaragua in January 2010. 

Daniel Ortega remains an unavoidably contentious figure in Latin American politics. Known most widely outside of the region as leader of the armed struggle which brought about the end of the Somoza dictatorship in July 1979, his political reincarnation as a democratically elected leader in 2006, for many at the time, pointed to the latest shift towards the left in Latin America. Along with a manifesto for stemming the tide of poverty and inequality, however, came increasingly divisive rhetoric and alleged fraud in the 2008 mayoral and local elections. This was followed by a Supreme Court decision to allow Ortega to stand for re-election in 2011, and fears have grown of a return to the caudillismo of dominant leaders which has plagued Nicaragua for many years in the past. What, in such a politically charged environment, are the prospects for cooperation and collaboration between government and civil society?

The impact of the political situation on civil society’s work in Nicaragua has been noticeable. In recent months, reports have emerged of motivated prosecutions against dissenting activists, the marginalisation of organisations lobbying for greater accountability, harassment of media groups and the directing of federal funds away from independent civil society organisations (CSOs) and towards ‘GONGOS’ (Government Organised NGOs). Perhaps most notable – from an international perspective – is the implementation of a draft law on international cooperation, which now places restrictions on local CSOs accessing support from abroad.

Such developments, though, are far from uncommon across the region. Recent years have witnessed the election of a series of radical leftist leaders, each on a different but not entirely unique platform; Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Evo Morales in Bolivia and, most notably, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. With Raul Castro’s Cuba showing signs only of gradual change (‘evolution revolution’, if you will), the axis of the so-called Bolivarian Revolution seems strong, and not least in the wake of the global economic crisis.

But in each of these situations, the impact of revolutionary politics on civil society asks fundamental questions about the way we think about ‘civil society’. In Bolivia, civil society reached remarkable levels of polarisation between the largely indigenous social movements backing the Morales revolution, and those civil society organisations rooted in separatist Santa Cruz. In Venezuela, the much-reported crackdown on media and civil society comes, of course, only in the context of unprecedented levels of civic engagement in los circulos bolivarianos, the Chavez-backed Bolivarian Circles. One person’s civic activist becomes another’s enemy of the state.

But the features common to these political landscapes bring with them contradictions which can be highly uncomfortable for those who would choose to lend support. In one corner lies the promise, however utopian, of social justice. In the other, however, lie the most basic of civic rights: freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. And in both corners stand those who would co-opt and use the idea of civil society: either endorsing it as an independent (though persecuted) last bastion of opposition to an imminent dictatorship or, alternatively, denouncing it as the interfering puppetry of foreign powers and elitist business interests. Not all these allegations, of course, are without foundation. But when elephants fight, as they say, the grass suffers – and it is often civil society organisations who are the first to take the hit as the rhetoric surges and their national space becomes politicised.

So how, then, should interventions be targeted when civic space – and even the very concept of civil society – becomes a political weapon?

One approach pursued by CIVICUS in these nuanced contexts has been to support knowledge generation about civil society, and to make sure that an empirical assessment of civil society exists in the public domain as a foundation for action. The CIVICUS Civil Society Index, a participatory action research project designed to provide just such an assessment, is now being implemented for the first time in Nicaragua by the Red Nicaraguense por la Democracia y el Desarrollo Local (RNDDL), one of two local partner organisations. Drawing on quantitative data generated from three surveys with the population, organisations and external stakeholders, as well as a series of in-depth case studies, the Civil Society Index project provides both a quantitative and qualitative analysis and picture of the state of civil society. The final results of the Index are due in Nicaragua in early 2010, and will help inform action plans by civil society.

CIVICUS is also making concerted efforts in the Latin American region to monitor emerging threats to civil society through the Early Warning System (EWS) formulated by CIVICUS partners and its Civil Society Watch (CSW) programme. Only last week, CIVICUS undertook a fact-finding mission to Nicaragua with the support of RNDDL and CIVICUS’ other member in the country, the Coordinadora Civil. Anabel Cruz, who headed the mission and is currently Chair of CIVICUS’ Board, noted that despite many of the areas of concern that emerged from the mission, “talks with key officials [had] been open and positive”.

Supporting civil society to engage with government as a partner in the development of the nation is a complex challenge and one which, in Nicaragua, will inevitably be fraught with difficulties. Since the 1990s, when a number of former Sandinista revolutionaries drifted towards social movements, NGOs have often struggled to assert their own autonomy and independence from the political environment. In 2004, a law on Citizen Participation was passed in Nicaragua, institutionalising space and raising hope for productive interaction with government. But following a few initial years of genuine engagement on social policy, much of this growth has been cut back amidst a rapidly deteriorating environment in which civil society activists fear that government now sees them as an enemy rather than a partner. Frustration levels, on both sides, are understandably high.

Nevertheless, as Anabel Cruz seemed to recognise, in calling on the “Government of Nicaragua to consider civil society as partners in national development”, the path away from the polarisation and politicisation of civic space offers the best hope not only for a healthy independent civil society, but also for an active citizenry amenable to and supportive of the politics of Latin America’s left.

Daniel Ortega once allegedly explained the armed roots of the Nicaraguan Revolution by commenting that “we grew up in a situation where we didn’t know what freedom or justice were, and therefore we didn’t know what democracy was”. Now, in working closely with the civil society sector as a true partner in national development, Ortega could make sure that the children of tomorrow’s Nicaragua cannot say the same.

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