Tag: civil society

What is civil society for? Reflection from one of Tanzania’s leading CSO thinkers

A recent civil society and government jamboree in Tanzania prompted some interesting reflections from Aidan Eyakuze, Executive Director of Twaweza. Who needs civil society organizations (CSOs)? If government does its job well, responding to citizens’ needs, delivering good quality services, safe communities and a booming economy, then what is the purpose of the diverse range of […]

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Is Something Good about to happen in Mexico?

First of two reflections on last week’s visit to Mexico. Omar Cabezas’ wonderful account of the Sandinista Revolution, Fire from the Mountain, ends with the victorious guerrillas arriving in Managua’s main square, where wild celebrations break out at the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. On the margins of the fiesta, a group of comandantes gather […]

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Here’s what we know about closing civic space – what other research would you suggest?

I head off to the Institute of Development Studies today to take stock on our joint ‘Action for Empowerment and Accountability’ research programme. One of the main discussions will be on a research agenda on ‘closing civic space’, so this blog sets out what we know of the research to date, and asks you for […]

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How can Civil Society respond to government crackdowns around the world? New Oxfam paper (and hello to Oxfam GB’s new boss)

Oxfam GB announced yesterday that Danny Sriskandarajah (right) will be its new boss. V exciting, and not just because he’s a mate. He comes to us from Civicus, the global alliance of civil society organizations. Here he is writing on this blog last year on the role of INGOs, if any, in defending civil society space. […]

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6 ways Local NGOs in Ghana are facing up to Shrinking Aid Flows

Local NGOs in developing countries face numerous threats, from government crackdowns to dwindling aid budgets. How are they responding? In a recent paper for VOLUNTAS: the International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations (Open Access – yay!),  Albert A. Arhin, Emmanuel Kumi and Oxfam’s Mohammed-Anwar Sadat Adam interviewed 65 people in Ghanaian NGOs, who face less overt repression than in […]

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5 ways to build Civil Society’s Legitimacy around the world

Saskia Brechenmacher and Thomas Carothers, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, introduce and summarize the insights from their new collection of essays from civil society activists. Pressure on civic space keeps increasing around the world, driven by the toxic mix of rising authoritarianism, growing populism, and wobbly democracy. Battles over legitimacy are central to […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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, […]

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Social Accountability from the Trenches: 6 Critical Reflections

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 […]

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