AfDB Scaling-up Engagement With Civil Society

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A Bank-wide task team has begun work on a framework for scaling up the institution’s engagement with civil society. The team met on Tuesday, 8 August 2011 in Tunis, where members examined an updated draft Civil Society Engagement Framework. Introducing the draft prepared by a consultant, Bank CSO Engagement Officer, Zeneb Toure, defined the task team’s role in terms of providing counsel and advice on the tenets of the document, which is an update of the original version revised in 2000.

The task team, after presenting individual comments on the document, agreed on the following;

  • Provide the Bank’s definition of CSO vis-à-vis Bank work;
  • Align the CSO Framework with the Bank’s Medium-term Strategy and establish entry points for CSO engagement in all processes.
  • Propose clear institutional arrangements in terms of structure, resources and procedural matters
  • Prepare a concise action plan and monitoring matrix with time-bound indicators, responsibilities, and targets.

The Bank’s engagement with civil society started in the 1990s with an AfDB/NGO consultative meeting held at its headquarters in Abidjan. Following the meeting, the Bank prepared a policy paper and procedural mechanisms and guidelines manual on its cooperation with NGOs, which was revised in 2000. The revised policy reflected the Bank’s enhanced commitment to stakeholders’ participation, improved governance and greater impact on the ground. It also called for a focus on the broader concept of civil society as opposed to a narrow focus on formal modern NGOs that are tied-up to the international aid system. To guide and facilitate Bank/CSOs interface and collaboration, a joint committee was established in 2000.  A meeting held in March 2010 involving the Bank and selected African CSOs resulted in an agreement to undertake a study on ways of enhancing cooperation and collaboration between the Bank and the African civil society community and update the existing engagement framework.

More than 50 CSO representatives attended a forum organized during the Bank’s Annual Meetings from 9-10 June 2011 in Lisbon, Portugal. CSO delegates from the continent’s five geo-political regions underscored need for more transparency in AfDB policies and operations to enable CSOs help promote the relevance and efficiency of its policies and projects on the ground. In the course of the two days, participants met with AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, senior management and Bank staff to discuss various issues where their increased engagement will support AfDB’s development efforts. The event involved interactive dialogue, experience sharing and discussions on best practices

The up-dated engagement framework elaborates on the objectives, scope, mechanisms and structure of enhancing and strengthening AfDB–CSO relations in coming years.

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