CF grants awarded to civil society organisations

KARACHI: The Commonwealth Foundation (CF) on Tuesday announced its first round of grants to support innovation in the participatory governance sector. Under its new funding scheme, thirteen grants totalling £723,000 have been awarded to civil society organisations across the Commonwealth, including Pakistan.

Grants have been awarded to projects in Bangladesh, Ghana, Grenada, India, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, St Lucia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland and Tonga. Hope International Development Agency & Pakistan Kissan Trust – £89,991 has been awarded to develop the skills of rural agricultural communities in Southern Punjab, Pakistan to engage in policy advocacy.

i-Probono – Focusing on Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, £53,344 has been awarded to support social entrepreneurs to access legal assistance, enabling them to overcome barriers to create positive change in their communities. Peace Direct & Aware Girls – £88,260 has been granted to these two organisations working jointly to strengthen women’s participation in political processes in the Kyber Pakhtunkwa province of Pakistan.

‘We are pleased at the strong response to the Foundation’s re-launched grants programme, placing greater emphasis on results for civic participation,’ said Commonwealth Foundation Director, Vijay Krishnarayan.

‘The successful applicants have highlighted the innovative ways civil society is encouraging dialogue, whether it’s between citizens on development issues or with the institutions shaping people’s lives,’ said Krishnarayan. ‘We’re looking forward to seeing the results of the projects as they progress’ he added.

Launched in 2012, the Foundation’s new grants scheme supports organisations promoting effective, responsive and accountable governance within the Commonwealth. Successful recipients come from a mix of sectors including agriculture, health, law and peace building. Each project focuses on active citizenship and the capacity of civil society to participate in decision-making processes.

‘These projects show that participatory governance can be interpreted in a number of ways, for example using radio as a tool for dialogue or connecting rural communities directly with policy makers,’ said Comfort Osilaja, Commonwealth Foundation Grants Manager.

‘Innovation, sustainability and knowledge management are key for successful grant applications. Any proposal should be thoroughly informed by the local context,’ added Osilaja. All grant recipients will share project outputs via blogs, social media, as well as formal reporting processes. Organisations are offered up to £30,000 per year for up to three years, for new projects delivered in Commonwealth Foundation member countries. From autumn 2013 there will be two calls per year. The next call will be announced in mid-September.

KELIN – £88,569 has been granted to help people living with HIV and civil society organisations in Kenya to influence policy on HIV-related issues, through training sessions and debate. Centre for Citizenship Education – Focusing on Tonga, £29,808 has been awarded to promote the role the media can play to ensure citizens are better informed about participation in decision making processes. Children’s Radio Foundation – £57,500 has been awarded to support a project using radio to challenge the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and ensure timely access to health services.

Sarvodaya – £29,380 has been provided to respond to the problem of low citizen engagement in local governance processes in Sri Lanka using community-led approaches. Anglican Alliance – £27,919 has been granted to increase opportunities for enterprise among marginalised women and young people in Bangladesh. Centre for Ewe Language and Cultural Research – £30,000 has been awarded to improve collaboration between governance institutions and civil society in Ghana to develop the skills of cultural practitioners and encourage implementation of cultural policies.

Friends of the Earth Ghana – £76,142 has been awarded to close the gap in information and outreach that exists between remote rural communities and relevant policy makers, empowering women to participate in environmental decision making at the local level. Shared Interest Foundation – £58,918 has been awarded to bring together three fair trade networks in Malawi, Rwanda and Swaziland to share experiences and learn from one another to overcome challenges, and address the issue of sustainability and growth by creating space for critical reflection and collaboration.

Technology and Action for Rural Advancement – £73,290 has been awarded to develop the capacity of civil society organisations, women and young people in India to engage in dialogue and influence local governance processes. Caribbean Policy Development Centre – £20,150 has been awarded to connect women farmers and policy makers, two groups who do not traditionally engage with one another, to influence emerging policy discussions on the green economy in the Caribbean.

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