A desk study by Reality of Aid Africa Network, for CPDE

This report is a desk study that aims to assess the degree to which various development actors contribute to democratic forms of governance that include civil society (Development Cooperation); the ability of CSOs to respond to changes in their sociopolitical contexts is in turn a measure of the enabling environment in their countries (CSO Enabling Environment); as well as an indicator of their own effectiveness (CSO Development Effectiveness).

In the quest to achieve the country’s development goals and contribute to development cooperation, the Government of Kenya and development partners have taken steps to harmonize, align, and coordinate their activities with the aim of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of aid. Following the Third High Level Forum in Accra Ghana, the government has taken stronger leadership of the whole Aid Effectiveness Agenda, with a sharper focus on delivery of the Paris, Accra and Busan Agendas, in partnership with not only the development partners, but with CSOs and other development partners as well. However, though there has been more partnership, it evident that this engagement is more form that substance, and the country systems in place are still weak.

CSO empowerment and equal participation in decision-making and in all aspects of the development process remain prerequisites for substantive development effectiveness. This is evidenced by the current governance reforms where the government has recognized the inclusion of parliament, citizens and CSOs as an underlying principle in development planning. Though the pivotal role of CSOs is recognized and emphasized today, concerns are also raised – and not only by governments – about the accountability of CSOs and their ability to show results and demonstrate impact. This has in turn fueled the need for CSOs to have a set of values in place that essentially guide their development work. While there has been notable progress in the areas of promotion of human rights and the embodying of gender equality and equity, a lot still needs to be done to ensure CSO effectiveness in pursuing equitable partnerships, mutual learning and sustainability in CSO work.

A new enabling legal environment is essential in ensuring good governance by the CSOs on the one hand, while protecting legitimate civil society activity on the other. It provides a pertinent framework for the engagement of CSOs in executing their mandate. Despite notable achievements in engagement of global processes, the reality on the ground reflects little change in opening real spaces for CSOs in official dialogue mechanisms. Challenges still remain as evidenced by shrinking CSO spaces in official processes as well as general lack of an enabling environment as development actors.

Efforts continue to go into addressing the gaps in the current legal and regulatory framework as well as strengthening the capacity of the CSO sector, factors that will go a long way in strengthening their engagement in shaping policy decisions in the country.

To view the paper, click here.