AGIR: Strengthening Mozambican civil society 2010-2014 | Capacity Building | Oxfam

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In Mozambique, as in many other countries, civil society organisations could be more effective in standing up for citizens. The government tends to see the role of civil society as providing services, rather than holding government to account. Donors also hinder the effectiveness of civil society organisations by imposing a confusing range of requirements. The AGIR programme involved donors working together to harmonise their support and build the capacity of civil society organisations to represent the interests of citizens and engage constructively with the authorities. This case study gives an overview of the AGIR programme including, aims, results, impact and lessons learned.
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    AGIR STRENGTHENING MOZAMBICAN CIVIL SOCIETY 2010-2014 OXFAM NOVIB CASE JUNE 2015  2  AGIR: STRENGTHENING MOZAMBICAN CIVIL SOCIETY 2010-2014 OXFAM NOVIB CASE SUMMARY HELPING CITIZENS TO MAKE THEIR VOICES HEARD IN MOZAMBIQUE In Mozambique, as in many other countries, civil society organisations could be more effective in standing up for citizens. The government tends to see the role of civil society as providing services, rather than holding government to account. Donors also hinder the effectiveness of civil society organisations by imposing a confusing range of require-ments. The AGIR programme involved donors working together to harmonise their support and build the capacity of civil society organisations to represent the interests of citizens and engage constructively with the authorities. CASE DESCRIPTION AIM OF THE PROJECT The AGIR programme, which ran from 2010 to 2014, supported Mozambican civil society organisations to improve citizen participation, accountability, transparency, access to information, respect for human rights and gender equality in government action. Oxfam Novib has a long history of working in Mozambique with civil society. Since 1988, we have been actively supporting and working with a variety of organisations and groups, resulting in extensive knowledge and expertise on the development of civil society in Mozambique. As a result of our long-term presence and appreciated support, we can rely on numerous strong relationships within Mozambican civil society. Along with the knowledge and long-term capacity building experience we have built, these relationships strengthen our work on the development of civil society. For SA (Open Society) the project period was August 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014 and for CIP (Centre for Public Integrity) it was July 1, 2010 to December 31, 2014. Please note that these two partners are examples. The total AGIR programme covers many more partner organisations. CONTEXT The role of and space for civil society in Mozambique is heavily influenced by the changing political and economic context, which is sometimes contradictory and tense. Mozambique has had a relatively long democratisation process. Liberalisation started in the late 1980s with the opening up of the single party regime, public discussion and enactment of a new democratic constitution, and the approval of new press and association laws. However, the country has lately experienced a notable deterioration in its governance indicators, such as freedom of the press, access to information, participation and accountability. The natural resource boom in the country has been hailed as an opportunity to continue high economic growth rates, averaging 7% in the last 10 years, and development. But it   AGIR 3  OXFAM NOVIB CASE has also triggered human rights violations, mainly linked to resettlement processes: violation of land tenure rights, non-restoration of livelihoods, improper compensation, and even violent police repression in response to community protests and claims. In response, this has led to strong social activism. While the law on the right to information took nine years in parliament to be approved, there have been improvements in access to budget information  –  the government publishe s the budget on its website, and a citizen’s budget is produced and published. More recently, the government published its contracts with extractive industries. These are substantial changes resulting from civil society advocacy. Nonetheless, the culture of public accountability in Mozambique is still emerging. It is only in recent years that civil society has taken a role as a critical voice active in the promotion of more responsible and accountable governance. Early in the post-emergency period following the civil war, which ended in 1992, and the approval of the law on associations in 1991 (law 8/91), the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) was mainly as service providers, combined with building capacities and awareness of local communities. In recent years the activist profile has been broadened from a few actors to a wider spectrum of civil society. This has had implications for the pattern of relations between government and CSOs. When CSOs focused on service delivery and capacity development of local communities, their relationship with duty-bearers was based on a model of partnership. However, when civil society began to present evidence on the level of implementation of government plans, to buttress its claims for better allocation of public resources, its relationship with government came to be seen as conflictive. The response of the duty-bearers to the increased focus of CSOs as a voice bearer has been to limit the space for activism. RATIONALE - WHY DID OXFAM NOVIB GET INVOLVED? Oxfam Novib has a long history of working with and supporting civil society in Mozambique. In 1988, we started to support local civil society in three northern provinces, creating strong relationships with local groups and organisations and building extensive knowledge on the context of civil society in the country. We focused on harmonising our activities with those of other donors, as lack of donor harmonisation undermines the effectiveness of support to CSOs, and creating a nurturing environment for organisational development and impact. An example of success has been our assistance for Mozambican organisation Human Rights League (LDH)  –  supporting the establishment of partnerships, building networks, and sharing best practices, knowledge and experience, in an increasingly complex context for such work in the country. The main recent example of Oxfam’s work to develop civil society in Mozambique is our participation in the AGIR programme (2010-2014), funded by Swedish donor organisation Sida and focused on establishing a nurturing environment. Oxfam Novib’s activities in Mozambique were a direct inspiration for Sida in the creation of the AGIR programme. Oxfam Novib participates as an intermediary organisation, supporting CSOs at the national and provincial level together with Diakonia, IBIS and We Effect.  AGIR breaks away from the non-conducive donor environment by providing long-term core funding, stimulating donors to fund the strategic plans of supported CSOs and adapting its management instruments to those the CSOs are used to. The programme facilitates civil society actors to improve their internal governance and results orientation  4  AGIR: STRENGTHENING MOZAMBICAN CIVIL SOCIETY 2010-2014 OXFAM NOVIB CASE and aims to enhance their capacity to cooperate, share knowledge and develop coalitions and networks. Through the AGIR programme, Oxfam Novib worked at national and provincial level on financial accountability, participation and social and legal accountability, and the underlying causes of discrimination. Our goal with AGIR is to contribute to enabling active citizens and a strong, vibrant civil society to participate in and influence the democratic process, in turn making governance more accountable, and deepening democracy, gender equity and human rights in Mozambique. THE INTERVENTION The core work of the AGIR intermediaries is the establishment of “ key actor  ”  agreements with local CSO partners active in the specific theme covered by each intermediary. The objective of these AGIR intermediary-CSO partnerships is to support the strengthening of civil society through long-term core funding and capacity strengthening in line with each CSO ’s  own strategic plan and f  ollowing the principles of ‘good donorship ’.  Oxfam Novib selected CSOs to support with their strategic agendas and plans and their internal capacity building challenges. We supported them as a partner, and as a civic actor pursuing the same causes, much more than as a donor. The approach to capacity building was tailor-made to the unique dynamics of each key actor. On engagement with each key actor, a participatory assessment of internal capacity building issues was conducted and priorities identified, either as opportunities or risks. Next to building the capacity of organisations, the programme aimed to support and facilitate linkages with other actors; alliance building initiatives; learning, documentation and sharing of experiences; joint interventions and improved synergies for action. In working with the organisations on partnerships and capacity building, we facilitated for example exchange visits between partners, and hiring consultants and staff. We made sure we would not dictate to partners on necessary activities, or lecture them on how to build their capacities. It was a mutual process in which we worked closely with the partner to identify the possibilities for their development and monitor progress. This process of working as equals has been highly appreciated by the organisations we have worked with, as evidenced for example by partner satisfaction surveys. Mentoring relationships with the weaker partner organisations were very close, with almost monthly visits and weekly phone calls. The engagement process was guided by a series of open and respectful dialogues in which the key actor and the programme team together list the principal opportunities for cooperation  –  results or impact areas where there is overlap  –  and the main risks, internal or external, that may prevent success in achieving results and impact. The engagement process was explicitly mutual, with the exchange of strategic agendas and visions on accountability issues, guided by the Oxfam Novib Toolbox. The management of the relevant opportunities and risks was subject to a dialogue and revisited and, if necessary, adjusted on regular basis. Oxfam Novib conducted close monitoring of partner progress and the development of the existing risks, for which partners had to design a risk management plan.
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