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Civil Society Organizations and Civic Engagement

Activities funded by the Civil Society Fund activities have demonstrated the contribution of the Civil Society Fund in building capacities of both the grantees and beneficiary groups to perform civic engagement roles. The civil society organizations and the beneficiary groups took on roles either as monitors, policy entrepreneurs, or as participation facilitators in the communities they served.

As monitors, civil society organizations collected data that inform their interaction with other stakeholders or with the public sector. As policy entrepreneurs, they pursued a policy agenda through consultation, negotiation, collaboration, and other forms of interaction with the public sector. As facilitators, they provided essential services that promoted civic engagement. They acted as links to public institutions by providing skills training, legal services, and information services. Many of the activities required the participants to play multiple roles.

Regional Experiences

In Europe and Central Asia Region, many activities focused on monitoring public sector accountability and performance. In Romania, the Media Organizations Convention was organized to increase capacity of the media in monitoring and fighting corruption. In Azerbaijan, the project, Let Us Know Our Community, Let Our Community Know Us created a database on legislation and national statistics. A website was set-up in Belarus to monitor implementation of the Local Agenda 21, while a pilot project, Pollutant Release and Transfer Register, was implemented in Georgia.

Civil society organizations in the East Asia and the Pacific Region used a range of communication approaches to pursue policy reforms. In Cambodia the Operations Enfants de Battambang pushed for the implementation of laws protecting children's rights, building victims' confidence in the capacity of CSOs and public authorities to address cases of abuse. In the Philippines, the Country Office solicited grant proposals that focused on the 'clean air act', effectively demonstrating the impact of the Civil Society Fund can have in the policy process. The NGO grantees were able to participate in dialogues for policy change while highlighting the voice of the marginalized groups. They pushed for the implementation of the Clean Air Act through media campaigns, formation of a community-based advocacy program, and conduct of a national conference.

In Latin America and the Caribbean Region, a focused approach to policy entrepreneurship was also used. This was especially true of the Dominican Republic where participating civil society organizations concentrated their activities towards policy reforms to address HIV/AIDS issues.

The role of civil society organizations as civic engagement facilitators was prominent in all regions. They acted as links to public institutions by providing skills training, legal services, and information services. In Madagascar, an NGO worked to secure birth certificates and identification documents for 300 citizens who would otherwise have been disqualified from voting in elections. In Peru, youth leaders were trained on techniques to detect and prevent corruption. Legal aid centers were set up in China to serve women in 22 townships of the Sichuan province. In India, elected women officials of Gran Panchayats learned about accessing various social development resources of their government. In Morocco, leaders of grassroot CSO's participated in training trainers on building partnerships and creating databases relevant to local development initiatives

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