CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS PLAY A VITAL ROLE IN NATIONAL DELEVELOPMENT
LOSCO a vibrant and Human Rights Focused NGO based in Kigezi Sub region of Uganda on the Western part is a one stop Centre for Human Rights Advocacy and does work around HRDs, Land Rights, Climate Justice, Social Justice, Governance in Health, Transparency and Accountability with the final beneficiary in mind. Its started this work in 2019 and the effects of COVID-19 came through so hard on programs and implementation plans but still managed to sail through.
Now LOSCO stands as the Most Vibrant CSO in Kigezi Sub region coordinating all HRDs in the region with focus on Human Rights Education and Capacity Building to the Human Rights CSOs and Government Agencies.
In a country blessed with peace and stability, civil society fills the space untouched by government and the private sector. In a fragile and conflict-ridden country, it plays an even more important role of providing services normally the responsibility of the state and business and can lay the foundation for reconciliation.
‘If anyone needs a crash course in the critical role played by civil society organizations, COVID-19 is providing it—from increased need for the services they provide to those less fortunate, to the strain they are experiencing from lack of supplies and the need to “social distance,” to government having to act too quickly without civil society input. Nevertheless, beyond the current crisis, civil society is an essential building block of development and national cohesion.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) are a large and strategic sector of working across a wide range of thematic areas including the promotion of accountability and transparency, citizens’ participation, democracy, human rights, gender, youth, jobs and livelihoods, health, education, agriculture, migration and forced displacement, water and sanitation, and environmental protection among others. In addition, the CSOs in Uganda belong to a range of groups and organisations including trade unions, professional associations, faith-based organisations (FBOs) and cooperatives. The NGOs as a sub-group of CSOs have been more visible and more or less become synonymous with the term CSOs due to the nature of their work in Uganda.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are recognized globally for their enormous contributions towards addressing economic, social, and political challenges including raising human right violations within communities. CSOs have evolved overtime and assumed different forms including organized and organic groups of different sizes and functions such as community-based organizations, workers’ or labour unions, professional associations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).3 In some jurisdictions, the role of CSOs is embedded in legal and policy frameworks.
While civil society in Uganda has been influential in contributing to the socio-economic and political development of the country as documented in multiple studies, the sector is plagued by several restrictions, which include inter alia: the shrinking civic space for their operations caused by negative narratives, which are tattled around. the multiplicity of administrative and legislative requirements for compliance. This is all on the backdrop of decreasing funding.
In Uganda, the Constitution grants CSOs mandate to protect and promote Human Rights of Ugandans. However, many governments especially those in the Global South have limited the civic space for CSOs, especially democracy and human rights organizations. Additionally, CSOs also continue to struggle with dwindling donor funding and shifting priorities driven by foreign policy considerations that pose a threat to their sustainability. In realizing sustainability amidst the changing trends, it is increasingly important for CSOs to prioritize developing diversified sources of institutional and financial support; and strengthening governance and leadership capacities.
With increased reports of corruption; maladministration in the public sector, increasing poverty levels, apathy among citizens, increase in criminality, human rights violations, poor service delivery, poor environmental governance and the resulting degradation of the environment; limited action on accountability concerns; the CSOs still have some work to do.