CSO Week 2019: Emphasis on Partnership and Collaboration

Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) and partner Civil Society Organisations in Tanzania have today announced the dates for the weeklong CSO multi-stakeholder conference, dubbed CSO Week 2019. The event is scheduled to take place from 4th to 8th November 2019 in Dodoma. The event aims at bringing together key Civil Society members and their respective organisations to effectively engage in in-depth discussions on their work, share experiences, and see how CSOs can strategically collaborate within the sector and with citizens, the Government, donors, and the private sector.

Over 15 CSOs led by FCS have organised CSO Week, including Policy Forum, Wajibu Institute, Twaweza, Save the Children, United Nations Association of Tanzania (UNA), Legal Services Facility (LSF), Care International, Msichana Initiative, Shirikisho la Vyama vya Watu wenye Ulemavu Tanzania (Shivyawata), Tanzania Association of NGOs (TANGO),HakiElimu, HakiRasilimali, Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), CBM and the Accountability in Tanzania programme (AcTII).  The occasion will be an important platform for comprehensive engagement between CSOs and the Government.

Speaking during the CSO Week media launch event, Francis Kiwanga, FCS Executive Director, said:

“We gave a lot of thought to this year’s CSO Week theme. Today we officially launch the theme and the CSO Week website to make it easier for participants and organisations to register. We are also officially opening to the public a call for sessions for interested individuals or organisations to lead discussions during CSO Week to which they can register via the website.  This year’s CSO Week theme is “Progress Through Partnerships: Collaboration as a Driver for Development”. This theme places greater emphasis on partnership. For Tanzania to achieve its development vision and attain a level of growth envisioned in the Sustainable Development goals, multi-stakeholder collaboration holds the key. In ensuring that we build the CSOs sector in the country, during CSO Week this year, FCS will issue The CSO Excellence Awards in order to celebrate, recognise and honour achievements and contributions made by various institutions or individuals that have influenced development policy and practice in Tanzania. The award was not issued last year but due to its importance, we deemed it necessary to recognize such achievements this year. The awards primarily target civil society organisations operating in Tanzania, and are also aimed at profiling local CSOs’ work in order to develop broader appreciation of the important work of civil society organisations in the country.

In a broader perspective, the CSO Week seeks to create and deepen a sustainable model for growth fuelled by civil society’s effective engagement in efforts to achieve Tanzania’s development vision through collaborations that can enableCSOs effectively serve excluded, marginalised and vulnerable populations in the interest of development in Tanzania. This can be demonstrated by increased CSO participation and representation in government, which, in turn, translates into an improved operating environment for civil society organisations, which will be the primary driver of enhanced sustainability and impact of the civil society sector as a whole.

During the event, the official website for CSO Week was launched for participants to register and CSOs to submit their proposals to lead sessions during CSO Week. Justice Rutenge, FCS Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) Advisor and Lead CSO Week Coordinator, said:

The official website for CSO Week 2019 is now officially open to the public. The website will make registration of participants who are keen on attending the event much easier. It is also a hub for information and highlights about the week to the public. The public can also get involved by submitting nominations for CSO excellence awards or session proposals, both through the website. In the Excellence Awards, we are inviting CSOs and the general public to help us celebrate, by way of nominating organizations, and sometimes, individuals who have had immense impact in a wide range of developmental causes. In the call for sessions, we are inviting any member of the public with ideas on how to foster greater development through partnership to submit proposals for hosting sessions during the CSO Week 2019. With these two calls, we are aiming to have a more bottom-up and inclusive content generation strategy for the event.”

During the CSO week a variety of activities to take place to amplify voices and facilitate the identification of areas of collaboration and linkages with state and non-state actors. Such activities include opening and closing sessions, CSO Exhibitions designed to allow greater access to the public, plenary and breakout workshops for special interest topics, award ceremony, dinner gala and various networking events.

Last year the weeklong event took place in Dodoma, and was themed Industrialisation Drive in Tanzania, People, Policy and Practise. It brought together over 600 participants representing about 400 CSOs operating in the country. The inaugural event was an important step in promoting the status of CSOs in Tanzanian society and an opportunity for CSO members to constructively engage with leaders representing the Government and Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania. Several deliberative points were made on the event’s closing day, key among them calling for a consultative framework between CSOs and Parliament to build and improve collaboration between the two sides for the benefit of all Tanzanians.

Since then, there has been increasing appreciation among all stakeholders of the importance of CSO Week as a platform for comprehensive engagement between and among stakeholders.

Practically, this implies that CSO Week 2019 will direct its efforts at ensuring the optimum participation of actors from sectors as diverse as possible. The agenda will also be directed towards ensuring that these multi-sectoral actors are made a critical part of new collectives geared towards delivering development.