Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) has played a critical role in facilitating increased capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) to engage with the Government and private sectors since its inception. This has been achieved through various platforms including quarterly and annual reflection meetings for CSOs, strategic meetings between CSOs and Members of Parliament as well as Members of House of Representatives in Zanzibar, Annual CSO forums, CSOs Directors forums as well as the CSO Week.
In order to enhance and strengthen the development of the CSO sector, FCS works to build the capacity of CSOs and CSO leaderships through training sessions. With this in mind, FCS organised the monthly reflection forums for CSOs directors. The forums provide convenient space for CSO heads to learn, reflect and put forth strategies for addressing issues of concern in the CSO sector and the society at large. It also serves as a partnership-building platform that brings together the Government and the private sector/business community.
Since the CSO Week 2019 will be held in Dodoma in November, Regional Directors’ Forums for the month of September 2019 were conducted with their main focus being to provide opportunity for CSOs to take a more prominent role in the preparation of the CSO Week 2019.
The expectations of the forums were to receive contributions that would set out the context and parameters of the CSO Week 2019. In addition, it was to allow for the identification of organizations that would have roles in CSO Week, including; regional CSO coordination and mobilization for increased CSO profiles and participation during the annual event. These Regional Directors’ forums had 4 Specific objectives:
- To provide the opportunity for CSOs in the regions and rural areas to take a more active role in the organization and spelling modes of participation during the CSO Week 2019;
- To increase information and awareness on grassroots and national issues relevant to CSOs for effective engagements with the Government;
- To strengthen the organization and performance of the CSO Week 2019 and increase CSO ownership of the event and
- To create linkages between grassroots situations, national and global initiatives for wider CSO and government engagements.
The Directors’ Forum took place in six different regions, namely Arusha, Mtwara, Mbeya, Dodoma, Mwanza and Zanzibar (Unguja/Pemba). Each region had an expected attendance of at least 80 participants from different organizations for forums.
Regions like Mtwara had 110 participants while Mwanza had 100. This provided the forums with a robust number of directors and representatives that could contribute a diversity of ideas from different viewpoints. Furthermore, the forums provided a voice to the CSOs and a sense of ownership of the CSO Week 2019 as they were provided with the opportunity to add to the content of what programme of the CSO Week would be.
The partners that organised the Directors Forum in their respective regions include: MTWANGONET in Mtwara, WOTESAWA in Mwanza, ANGOZA in Zanzibar, MBENGONET in Mbeya, NGONEDO in Dodoma and Ujamaa Community in Arusha.
Edna Chilimo, the Capacity Development Manager at FCS, had this to say: “The Regional Directors Forum was a build-up to the CSO Week 2019 and the idea was to get concrete, practical examples that are evidence-based from the field. This would enable us to have broad discussions regarding partnerships between CSOs and the Government, especially Local Governments as we head towards the CSO WEEK in Dodoma.”
She added: “We further plan to have plenary discussions based on reports from different regions and also the testimonies from the regions in two parts: best practices in working with the Government, and the challenges that have been observed.”
The aim, she noted, is to strengthen networking and partnerships to accelerate attainment of social justice and sustainable development. Through these forums, CSOs are supported to enhance constructive dialogues, learning and inclusion of development agenda in national engagements. They also aim to provide the opportunity to create linkages and strengthen collaborations between CSOs, the Government and the private sector.