civil society

Bruised but better: the stronger case for evidence-based activism in East Africa

Duncan Green - March 22, 2018

Wrapping up Twaweza week, Varja Lipovsek (left) and Aidan Eyakuze reflect on the event that has provided the last week’s posts It was a stormy couple of days in Dar es Salaam. First, it is the rainy season, so the tent in which we held our meeting flapped and undulated over our heads like a loose sail. More importantly, we crammed the tent with more …

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Can religion play a role in evidence-obsessed governance strategies? Lessons from Tanzania

Duncan Green - March 21, 2018

Next up in the Twaweza series, Aikande Clement Kwayu reflects on the development sector’s blind spot with religion When it comes to social change, religion is a double-edged sword. It can be both a force for good and/or for bad. The world-wide positive contribution by religious organisations in providing public services such as health and education is undisputed.  The role of religion in areas of …

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Can INGOs push back against closing civic space? Only if they change their approach.

Duncan Green - October 13, 2017

Guest post from Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Secretary General of CIVICUS. He can be found on social media@civicussg  Civil society is facing a sustained, multi-faceted, global onslaught. According to the CIVICUS Monitor, fundamental civic freedoms are being severely restricted in an unprecedented number of countries. The operating environment for civil society organisations is becoming more hostile across the world and many of us in the organised bits of …

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What is really going on within ‘shrinking civil society space’ and how should international actors respond?

Duncan Green - June 28, 2017

Good conversation (Chatham House Rule) last week on the global crackdown on civil society organizations (CSOs) and what to do about it. I was expecting a fairly standard ‘it’s all terrible; international NGOs must take action, speak truth to power etc’ discussion, but it was actually much more interesting and nuanced than that. While it is undoubtedly true, and horrible, that governments around the world …

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What is new/the same about the world’s new civic activist movements?

Duncan Green - May 10, 2017

Bumped into Tom Carothers in the DFID foyer the other day, and he handed me a copy of a fascinating new Carnegie Endowment Report, Global Civic Activism in Flux. Late last year, Carnegie set up a Civic Activism Network that brought together 8 national experts on new forms of citizen activism in Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, and Ukraine, who each contributed chapters. …

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Social Accountability from the Trenches: 6 Critical Reflections

Duncan Green - May 3, 2017

Guest post by Gopa Kumar Thampi of The Asia Foundation There is a clearly a surge in social accountability initiatives across the globe today. From informal expressions at the grassroots to entrenched voices in corridors of power, the social accountability multiverse has become stronger and diverse. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that we are indeed witnessing the rise of an ‘audit society’ that animates …

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Why is Africa’s Civil Society under Siege?

Duncan Green - December 15, 2016

Oxfam’s Ross Clarke (Governance and Legal Adviser ) and Desire Assogbavi (Resident Representative & Head of Office, Oxfam International Liaison Office to the African Union) introduce a new analysis of the threats to African civil society After years on the margins of the mainstream development agenda, addressing civic space is finally getting the attention it deserves. If the number of policy initiatives, conferences and campaigns …

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What role for local actors in system change? Fighting climate change in the UK

Duncan Green - November 29, 2016

Ruth Mayne, Oxfam’s senior researcher on the effectiveness of influencing, reflects on some personal influencing she was involved with before (re)joining Oxfam. In the development world we often emphasise the importance of strengthening community action but is it really possible for local, rather than national and international, actors to contribute to system change? And if so, why and how does this happen, and under what …

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Why/how should corporates defend civil society space? Good new paper + case studies

Duncan Green - October 19, 2016

I saw some effective academic-NGO cooperation last week, and even better, it involved some of my LSE students. The occasion was the launch of Beyond Integrity: Exploring the role of business in preserving civil society space, commissioned and published by the Charities Aid Foundation and written by Silky Agrawal, Brooks Reed and Riya Saxena, three of last year’s LSE Masters students. They researched and wrote …

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A successful project to wean southern civil society organizations off aid

Duncan Green - August 10, 2016

I’ve previously lamented the aid industry’s lack of interest in building up the domestic fundraising capacity of local organizations and suggested we need a ‘Fundraisers Without Borders’. Turns out something along those lines is already happening. A note in a recent edition of Development in Practice by Robert Wiggers of the Dutch Wild Geese Foundation (WGF) describes its Action for Children (AfC) programme in four …

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