The Interface between research, advocacy and media organisations

By Mandeep S. Tiwana, Policy Manager, CIVICUS

Yesterday, I attended a regional convening organised by the Southern Africa Trust that brought together research, advocacy and media organisations from six African countries – Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, South Africa and Tanzania. The meeting is part of a project to develop linkages for pro-poor policy development and accountability in Africa.

Colleagues from different countries shared thoughtful perspectives from their experiences in promoting food security in national contexts. Ugandan representatives highlighted the importance of breaking down technical information gathered by researchers into simple and specific policy asks to communicate with decision makers. Representatives from Malawian civil society spoke about the importance of building and sustaining contacts with the mainstream media which helped them in articulating their concerns to government with regard to the introduction of genetically modified foods in the country. Continue reading

Unexpected Revolutions?

The surge of people power across the Middle East and North Africa that many have referred to as the Arab Spring has evoked a great deal of interest around the world. Responses have ranged from curiosity, solidarity and absolute awe to active intervention – military, financial and policy. As this issue of e-CIVICUS goes out, renewed protests in Cairo are being met with violent responses while conflict rages on in Libya and Syria and activists around the region face reprisals and resistance from entrenched autocrats. Ripple effects are being felt well beyond the region. Continue reading

Voices of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan civil society heard at the UN

Limited information and awareness of the notorious violations of human rights in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan reaches the international community. To combat this, CIVICUS recently helped to support local civil society representatives to visit the UN in Geneva and get their voices heard.

Both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are notorious violators of human rights — in particular, the rights of citizens to freely represent their views, the rights of religious people to conduct religious instruction and to bear religious materials, and the rights of reporters to go about their jobs. The result of speaking out against the regimes of both countries is often long prison sentences in which torture is a daily reality. Continue reading

An Art, Not a Science

By Adele Poskitt, Policy Officer, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

As I participated in a conference last week that debated the recent trends in the monitoring and evaluation of civil society organisations, I was struck by the amount of energy and resources devoted to measuring the impact of the sector.

Around 170 development practitioners from all corners of the globe gathered at the INTRAC conference in the Netherlands to discuss how the increasing demand for value-for-money and evidence of results by aid donors is affecting the work of civil society organisations. Indeed, with growing pressure from donors who are increasingly struggling to justify their overseas development aid budgets amid domestic budget cuts, discussion was lively.

The reality is that the impact of development work has always been notoriously difficult to measure. But in today’s era of advocacy projects and quests for good governance, there are more and more new monitoring and evaluation (M&E) challenges confronting CSOs. Complex political contexts, multi-sector networks and humanitarian relief programmes in fragile environments all pose their own unique challenges to measuring the impact CSOs are having.  So the question posed to the diverse group of grassroots organisations, international NGOs, donors and government officials was: Are we doing the right thing? Rather than, are we doing things right? Continue reading