Dominican RepublicMassimiliano Paolucci
The Small Grants Program of the Dominican Republic Country Office aims to increase the voice of groups, such as women, youth and immigrants that have traditionally had little or no voice in the public arena. It envisages concentrating on such areas as: (a) women's participation in reproductive health management policy discussions and policymaking processes. The ultimate objective is reducing maternal mortality rates and increasing quality of public health services; (b) inclusion of poor neighborhoods in the development of a national and cross-sectoral strategy to tackle the country's energy sector crisis; (c) inclusion of immigrants in the implementation of the Dominican Immigration Law in order to move government towards a more rational and less stereotypical management of migration flows and policies; and (d) inclusion of small farmers in the globalized market following the signing of a Free Trade Agreement with the United States of America and several Central American Countries.
To these ends, the Country Office supports activities that: (a) encourage public fora, round tables, and seminars aiming at strengthening the organizations and the voices of the most vulnerable groups in the areas specified above; (b) promote the inclusion of their perspective in the discussion and implementation of the country's development policies; (c) strengthen local CSOs and foster partnerships among themselves and with international CSOs; (d) improve the capacities of small, grassroots CSOs to attract funds by strengthening their fund raising and fund management skills; and (e) promote knowledge sharing among CSOs and improvement of their access to the Bank's global knowledge on civic engagement.
The Uzbekistan Country Office's Small Grants Program supported increased internet-access and exposure to promote dialogue and disseminate information about development. This is especially important in a country where the media are government-owned and censored. The goal was to increase the web presence for NGOs so as to empower them with information and tools required for more active engagement. One of the sites by the NGO Rabat Malik raises awareness about the marginalized ethnic groups of Uzbekistan. Another grant assisted an NGO to disseminate information regarding development for the purposes tourism and conducted a training seminar for small businesses.
ZimbabweEbrahim Mohamed Jassat
Civic groups in Zimbabwe are operating in a politically volatile and economically unstable society where public service delivery systems are insufficient and ineffective, and where there is a phenomenal rise in the number of poor and vulnerable. The Small Grants Program will assist these groups to network, share information, and debate key policy issues such as land reform and public service delivery; and to disseminate their experiences in working with poor and vulnerable groups.
Civil Society Organizations (CSO's) are Zimbabwe's key stakeholders in addressing major issues such as governance, transparency, NGO legislation, and gender and social protection, but there is still insufficient constructive dialogue between these groups and government. In general, civil society groups have not been able to successfully influence much of the government-led debate on policy issues. But through information sharing, networking and coalition building the capability of CSO grows and their ability to participate effectively enhances. In addition, CSO's are advocating for an enabling environment, are raising accountability issues with national and local institutions, and are developing strategies for consultation and partnership among themselves and with government and donors.