The United States Mission in Uganda on Wednesday launched a $12.8 million Civil Society Strengthening Activity (CSSA) fund which is aimed at supporting the contribution of Ugandan civil society organizations (CSOs) towards development in the country.
The five-year project, administered through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), seeks to contribute to national and local development across thematic areas including health; education, youth, and child development; agriculture; and democracy, rights, and governance.
The USAID/CSSA project will provide grants and technical support to CSOs and government institutions to expand alliances among multiple stakeholders and promote an enabling environment in which civil society in Uganda may thrive.
Speaking at the launch of the Project at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala, U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown highlighted that advancing human rights and democratic values, fighting corruption, and stemming the tide of democratic backsliding worldwide remain top priorities for the United States.
“Successful democratic states recognize the need for civil society and its role in contributing to inclusive and sustainable development. Civil society is a fundamental actor, serving as a critical interlocutor between the state and society, one that enhances the legitimacy of the public sector and helps link citizens with their government” U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown said.
Natalie Brown also raised concerns about government regulations that require NGOs to disclose sources of funding and personal information about their employees.
“These regulations enable the NGO Bureau and its local level structures to deny registration to any organization focused on topics deemed undesirable or prejudicial to the “dignity of the people of Uganda,” and provide the NGO Bureau broad powers to inspect NGO offices and records and to suspend their activities without due process”
The activity also includes the ‘Giving Rise to Ugandan Indigenous Direction and Experience’ (GUIDE) Program, where USAID will make a comprehensive investment in the leadership skills of 1,000 women and youth.
“The contributions of women and youth in this effort are vital in tackling Uganda’s most urgent challenges and supporting the critical goals embodied under NDP III and Vision 2040. The GUIDE Program will equip women and youth with the skills and confidence to become more civically engaged, participate in public life and decision-making processes, and be better prepared as leaders in Uganda’s future” Natalie said.
The CSSA activity will be implemented by the East-West Management Institute, Inc. in partnership with Uganda’s Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, and Common Ground Consulting.