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Civil Society Engagement


The African Development Bank has made efforts to catalyze enhanced engagement with civil society for more than two decades. In the early 1990s, it held its first consultative meeting with nongovernmental organizations in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and developed a policy paper and a Procedures, Mechanisms and Guidelines manual to direct its cooperation with NGOs. These were revised in 1999 to reflect enhanced commitment to this cooperation and focusing more broadly on civil society. To guide and facilitate Bank collaboration with civil society organizations, a joint committee was established in 2000.

Building on the lessons of two decades of practice, the Bank adopted a Framework for Enhanced Engagement with Civil Society Organizations in 2012 to enhance its collaboration with CSOs, structuring its broader, deeper engagement through outreach, dialogue, and partnership at the corporate, regional/country and project levels to support CSO capacity building and to strengthen efforts to involve them in specific areas of Bank work.

Since 2016, the Bank has been consulting with civil society across the five Africa sub-regions. This has led to the development of an Action Plan that updates the largely valid 2012 Framework to take into account the High 5 priorities and the Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022). It differs from the original CSO Framework by mainstreaming rather than merely strengthening engagement with civil society in all Bank operational work.


Status of the Bank’s Civil Society and community Engagement

The Institutional framework for the Bank’s Civil Society and community Engagement comprises:

  • The newly established Civil Society, Community Engagement and Social Innovation Division is responsible for leading the coordination of the civil society engagement work and providing strategic guidance to the Bank on advancing the inclusivity and socio-economic impact of its work.
  • Updated CSO Framework 
  • Action Plan 2018 – 2022, currently being finalized.
  • Bank-CSO Committee bringing the Bank and African CSOs together. The committee’s mandate is to advise the Bank on forging stronger relations and partnerships with the CSO community and to hold it accountable for the implementation of the new CSO Engagement Framework and related Action Plan. A call for application was sent to CSOs registered on the Bank-Civil Society database with a deadline of Tuesday 27th March. (More informations).

The Operational Framework for the bank’s Civil Society Engagement is composed of:

  • CSO regional consultations
  • Internal awareness of Bank staff
  • Country dialogue with CSOs – CSO open days
  • The Bank-Civil Society Forum
  • The Bank-CSO Database

The Bank’s Institutional and operational framework for Engagement with civil society is crucial to:

  • Improving Bank project results and effectiveness;
  • Maximizing impact on key development initiatives to improve efforts on impactful, people-oriented, inclusive development projects that take into account people’s needs, specifically the marginalized;
  • Ownership in communities to ensure sustainability and inclusivity of Bank development programs;
  • Optimizing resource expenditures in the face of budget constraints;
  • Informing policies and programs based on real needs and avoiding standardized responses that can create more harm than solutions;
  • Risk Management: Increasing operations’ sustainability and reducing the risk of failure.