Organisation and Systems
Local Systems Strengthening
The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) partners with more than 1,000 local civil society actors in the health, education and agriculture sectors to improve the quality of life. AKF’s engagement with civil society groups includes organisational assessment and strengthening, facilitating peer exchange, brokering linkages, co-creation and collaborative implementation.
AKF has developed a collection of tools – from self-administered diagnostics to video-based training – to strengthen CSOs’ organisational capacity in critical areas, including fundraising, communications, and monitoring and evaluation.
AKF aims to establish a structured process for citizen engagement in the education sector. We are supporting the development and strengthening of 358 school boards of trustees as platforms through which citizens will engage to improve school governance and financial oversight, thereby contributing to improving the quality of education for more than 197,000 students. Through participatory training, more than 1,700 trustees (75 percent women) have become important actors in steering discussions between administrators, parents, students, teachers and local government authorities around the development priorities of their schools. Through the adoption of accountability mechanisms, trustees are also openly reporting on the progress made in the implementation of those priorities, helping them to emerge as central actors in school development. A recent assessment shows that 85 percent of parents/students report that the planning/budgeting and monitoring/ feedback channels have improved in their schools.
Governance and Inclusion
The Kyrgyz law encourages CSOs to participate in village planning processes. To support this, AKF is working in 67 sub-districts and six cities of Osh, Jalal-Abad, Batken and Naryn oblasts. We mobilise communities and local government to organise, understand and address a range of opportunities and challenges, including health, education, livelihoods, women’s rights and natural resource management.
This will help them collaborate more effectively and enable local CSOs to represent their constituents’ concerns more directly. Ultimately, we hope that CSOs will be able to influence the allocation of resources to issues that directly concern local communities, especially those of youth.
Participatory governance activities currently reach more than 352,000 people in Osh, Naryn, Jalal-Abad and Batken oblasts.
The University of Central Asia’s Civil Society Initiative
The University of Central Asia’s Civil Society Initiative (CSI), established in 2017, enriches development thinking by bringing to the foreground the importance of associational life in the well-being of communities and society; and of civil society organisations as drivers of efforts to give people a voice on policy and governance. CSI aims to foster a more enabling policy and administrative environment for civil society’s development. This includes measures that unlock the potential of philanthropy and private giving to support activities for public benefit. It also focuses on building the organisational capacity of a wide range of civil society groups and gaining broader public awareness of their essential contribution to society.
Understanding Civil Society
CSI supports research to fill critical knowledge gaps published in its Discussion Papers series. In 2019, CSI held a widely attended regional conference in Bishkek, the first of its kind in Central Asia in a decade, to brainstorm on new civil society development pathways. In 2020, CSI launched the “COVID: A Narrative History” project that tracks the activation of self-groups, community organisations, volunteers and civil society organisations on a scale never seen before.
CSI initiated its policy work in the Kyrgyz Republic in response to a request from the Kyrgyz Government in 2017. CSI developed the civil society component of the government’s 2018 national development programme. It also led the Kyrgyz Republic's effort in joining the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the first Central Asian country to do so. It received a certificate of recognition for its efforts. OGP is a multilateral initiative of some 80 countries that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency and empower citizens to strengthen governance.
CSI co-authored OGP initiatives on open data, particularly data disclosure in the mining industry, state/municipal property, government external and internal borrowing, and procurement. It received a recognition award from the Vice Speaker of Parliament for its work.
To advance indigenous philanthropy, CSI partnered with the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law to engage the Ministries of Justice, Economics and other agencies on writing a draft law on charitable organisations. This is pending in Parliament.
CSI and the government's Council on Development of Business and Investments organised a forum attended by business associations on the role of Open Government in promoting private sector growth and job creation.
CSI’s capacity building activities have included:
- the development and delivery of training modules to 40 civil society organisation participants in the Kyrgyz Republic on data analysis and visualisation to build their capacity in monitoring government action;
- training sessions on COVID-19 emergency response for 40 women-led civil society organisations; and
- a May 2020 webinar on virtual government procurement. This was attended by 140 participants from 10 countries, including representatives from almost every Central Asian state.
CSI has held seminars in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan with national civil society organisations and government representatives on collaborative governance and civil society engagement, to identify priorities and possible CSI activities in those countries.