Written by: Yosi Echeverry Burckhardt and Megan MacGarry
We are very excited to report on our participation and observation last week of the official media launch and first Advisory Committee meeting, thus marking the official start of the CSI in Madagascar!
Two very intensive days of training were held by us, with our partners Consortium National pour la Participation Citoyenne (CNPC) and Multi-Sector Information Services (MSIS), as well as full participation from the leading donors on the project, the UNDP Madagascar regional office. This training was on the complex realities and intricacies of the CSI methodology, which is currently underway in Madagascar. Everyone was rather tired due to the intensive, but exciting work done over the two days.
However, this was to be shaken off quickly as the stage was set, at the Hotel La Residence Ankerana on the outskirts of Antananarivo, for the official launch and ceremony, as well as the first Advisory Committee meeting, marking the beginning of the project. There were numerous groups present for this prestigious event, including the United Nations Resident Coordinator Fatma Samoura, the CSI national Advisory Committee, the teams of both the national coordinating organisations MSIS and CNPC, UNDP programme staff members, two representatives from CIVICUS, and several journalists from both print and tv press present. Key speakers at the beginning of the launching ceremony included:
- Mr Andriamoraniaina Harijaona (Niaina): Coordinator of MSIS
- Mr Amaholimihaso Rahaga: the speaker of the Advisory Committee
- Mrs Fatma Samoura: UN Resident Coordinator
- And Miss Yosi Echeverry Burckhardt: CSI Programme Officer with CIVICUS.
From left to right: Niaina, Amaholimihaso Rahaga, Fatma Samoura, Yosi
The speakers emphasised what a great opportunity implementing the CSI project is for Madagascar, how this will hopefully impact broader participation in Malagasy society, and how this will hopefully strengthen civil society throughout the country, despite the ongoing political difficulties and constraints evident of late in the country.
There is a strong interest and participation in the project from a wide scope of stakeholders across various sectors, including from the government, the private sector, and the media. This helps to highlight how timely and valuable an evaluation of the state of civil society, such as the CSI, is. In a country where all development projects, except humanitarian projects, have been stopped due to sanctions from various international actors. Compounded by the complexities of operating in repressive and constricted environments, it is hoped that the CSI implementation will be an initiator for increased, deepened civic engagement, participation, and leadership. As Edmondine Ramaroson, the President of CNPC underlines, the findings from the project will not be an end in themselves but rather serve to create a more active and engaged citizenship throughout Madagascar. As Edmondine mentioned in her welcoming speech at the launch of the project:
Donnons – nous la main pour n’avoir qu’une unique : la résultante, suffisamment solide pour porter l’espoir que Madagascar sera hissé à la place qu’elle mérite!
It was a true honour for both of us to be present, to highlight CIVICUS’ commitment and active participation in civil society strengthening processes and showing the value of the CSI particularly in countries such as Madagascar. It was engaging and exciting to see our project in real live action in front of us- witnessing how interested and motivated the members of the AC are in the project, as it allows us to see the true participatory value of the CSI.
The Advisory Committee (AC), the two NCOs, UNDP Madagascar focal point and the CIVICUS team: