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Tanzania NGO Policy Forum -
towards a protocol for engagement in the policy process

Executive Summary (Dec 2002)

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CSOs and NGOs are now recognised as powerful forces in social and economic development and therefore as important partners in the process of nation building.

However, before they can fulfil their potential, much work has to be done to build their hard and soft capacity to conceptualise the roles which they might play in the policy process, and to work in integrated and productive ways.

This consultancy report aims to help clarify the mission and objectives of the NGO Policy Forum and to outline options for its organisational structure.

Civil society organizations in Tanzania are in a strong position to engage in policy processes. The object is to build on the collective and individual experiences to date to create a more systematic approach to policy engagement. This will help to avoid the reactive, one-off method of participation that has come to be expected of civil society by the government and donors.

Through this strategy civil society can begin to address issues of capacity, collaboration, and information sharing, while also easing the way for government to seek civil society input into policy processes. (This will create) an enabling environment for CSOs to engage in policy forums.

NGO Policy Forum (March 2002)

  • The first chapter reviews the challenge of poverty and points to the ongoing need to define and redefine its nature and the means by which various stakeholders working in partnership might improve the lives of poor people.
  • The second chapter follows up on earlier meetings and papers and offers a concise statement of core values and thus of the vision, mission and objectives of the NGO Policy Forum.
  • In the third chapter we review potential channels of influence on the policy process which is seen as having four stages and four geographical levels. The Forum is mainly concerned with national policy formulation but it is apparent that there are intimate and subtle connections with other stages and levels.
  • Three options for organisational structure are considered in chapter four. They are seen to lie along a continuum between the highly centralised and the decentralised. Their relative merits are rated in terms of authority, accountability and responsibility. Further discussion is required amongst members to decide on the most appropriate level of 'organisation' for the Forum.
  • Chapters five and six present frameworks for thinking about organisational principles, codes of conduct and then budget considerations. These cannot be tied down in detail until consensus has been reached about structures.

The NGO Policy Forum has been active and visible in recent months in responding to government initiatives concerning the NGO Bill and the CG meeting. There is thus much learning by doing and a growing awareness within the CSO and NGO communities of the need for an organization such as the Forum.

The NGO Policy Forum represents a diverse range of organisations with a diverse range of interests. It may not always be possible for it to speak with one voice but it should be possible for several different voices to speak from a common platform.

Our main recommendation is that the Forum should set aside time to negotiate with its members and potential members countrywide on an ongoing basis. The various checklists and frameworks presented in this and earlier papers are offered as tools to help structure and frame the negotiations.

It is perhaps best to think of the Forum not as a bridge to be built to a predetermined blueprint, but rather as an infant to be nurtured to evolve in a spirit of community, partnership and social justice

The consultancy team included:
  • Emmanuel Kallonga (Hakikazi Catalyst)
  • Chamba Kajege (Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation)
  • Rebecca Muna (Independent Consultant)
  • Clifford Tandari (Vice President's Office)
  • George Clark (Caledonia Centre for Social Development)

Activities included:

  • literature review
  • interviews with key activists in Tanzania's poverty reduction efforts
  • field visits to Mwanza and Mtwara
  • facilitation of review workshops for the NGO Policy Forum

Final Report as a 158Kb Zip file

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