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Coronavirus as a Catalyst for Global Civil Society: new report

December 8, 2020
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is doing some great research on civil society responses to Covid. It’s latest, published yesterday, is Coronavirus as a Catalyst for Global Civil Society. Its a bit more distanced and neutral than the Civicus work I highlighted recently, and the two approaches complement each other nicely. The Carnegie report’s 94 pages comprise an overview
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Civic Freedoms and The Covid-19 Pandemic: A Snapshot of Restrictions and Attacks

October 14, 2020
Civicus, the international network of Civil Society Organizations, has just put out a brief on the impact of the pandemic on protest and activism around the world. Some highlights (my summary in square brackets) [Civic activism hasn’t entirely stopped, but it has moved from mass mobilization to a greater emphasis on symbolism and imagination] ‘2019 was a historic year for

From communal violence to lockdown hunger – Emergency responses by civil society networks in Delhi

September 22, 2020
We’ve had an amazing response to our launch of the project on ‘Emergent Agency in a Time of Covid‘, and are now processing all the contacts and info we’ve received. For those wanting examples of the kinds of experiences we are interested in, I’ll be posting some examples over the next few days. First up, Sobhi Mohanty argues that the
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What’s going on with civil society and philanthropy in India? Interview + transcript with Ingrid Srinath

October 9, 2019
Ingrid Srinath runs the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University in Delhi. She recently talked me through the current situation in India. She asked me to clarify that these are her personal views, not those of the university. The work of the Centre: as the first academic centre in South Asia to study issues of civil society

What is civil society for? Reflection from one of Tanzania’s leading CSO thinkers

November 1, 2018
A recent civil society and government jamboree in Tanzania prompted some interesting reflections from Aidan Eyakuze, Executive Director of Twaweza. Who needs civil society organizations (CSOs)? If government does its job well, responding to citizens’ needs, delivering good quality services, safe communities and a booming economy, then what is the purpose of the diverse range of NGOs, trade unions, religious groups,

Is Something Good about to happen in Mexico?

October 18, 2018
First of two reflections on last week’s visit to Mexico. Omar Cabezas’ wonderful account of the Sandinista Revolution, Fire from the Mountain, ends with the victorious guerrillas arriving in Managua’s main square, where wild celebrations break out at the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. On the margins of the fiesta, a group of comandantes gather and look at each other. 

Here’s what we know about closing civic space – what other research would you suggest?

September 18, 2018
I head off to the Institute of Development Studies today to take stock on our joint ‘Action for Empowerment and Accountability’ research programme. One of the main discussions will be on a research agenda on ‘closing civic space’, so this blog sets out what we know of the research to date, and asks you for further suggestions. The best place

How can Civil Society respond to government crackdowns around the world? New Oxfam paper (and hello to Oxfam GB’s new boss)

September 12, 2018
Oxfam GB announced yesterday that Danny Sriskandarajah (right) will be its new boss. V exciting, and not just because he’s a mate. He comes to us from Civicus, the global alliance of civil society organizations. Here he is writing on this blog last year on the role of INGOs, if any, in defending civil society space. This is gonna be fun.

6 ways Local NGOs in Ghana are facing up to Shrinking Aid Flows

June 8, 2018
Local NGOs in developing countries face numerous threats, from government crackdowns to dwindling aid budgets. How are they responding? In a recent paper for VOLUNTAS: the International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations (Open Access – yay!),  Albert A. Arhin, Emmanuel Kumi and Oxfam’s Mohammed-Anwar Sadat Adam interviewed 65 people in Ghanaian NGOs, who face less overt repression than in many countries, but falling aid

5 ways to build Civil Society’s Legitimacy around the world

May 9, 2018
Saskia Brechenmacher and Thomas Carothers, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, introduce and summarize the insights from their new collection of essays from civil society activists. Pressure on civic space keeps increasing around the world, driven by the toxic mix of rising authoritarianism, growing populism, and wobbly democracy. Battles over legitimacy are central to this trend. Powerholders don’t just

Bruised but better: the stronger case for evidence-based activism in East Africa

March 22, 2018
Wrapping up Twaweza week, Varja Lipovsek (left) and Aidan Eyakuze reflect on the event that has provided the last week’s posts It was a stormy couple of days in Dar es Salaam. First, it is the rainy season, so the tent in which we held our meeting flapped and undulated over our heads like a loose sail. More importantly, we

Can religion play a role in evidence-obsessed governance strategies? Lessons from Tanzania

March 21, 2018
Next up in the Twaweza series, Aikande Clement Kwayu reflects on the development sector’s blind spot with religion When it comes to social change, religion is a double-edged sword. It can be both a force for good and/or for bad. The world-wide positive contribution by religious organisations in providing public services such as health and education is undisputed.  The role