Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

New Civil Society Engagement Handbook Available

This post was written by Susan Pologruto from USAID and Feed the Future.

The “Strengthening Civil Society's Role in Development: A Handbook for Engagement” is now available online. This handbook outlines four engagement practices for promoting local ownership and engaging civil society. The intent is to translate aid effectiveness principles into practical mechanisms to advance development that is more participatory, inclusive, transparent, accountable and sustainable. These engagement practices, and the country examples provided, are intended to support Feed the Future in promoting locally owned and led development as envisioned in the U.S. Government’s Global Food Security Strategy.

  1. Local civil society and other stakeholders should participate meaningfully and help shape development priorities and strategies.
  2. Local ownership should be based on a multistakeholder, whole-of-society approach. 
  3. The enabling environment and operating space for civil society and other non-state actors should facilitate their participation in development.
  4. Civil society engagement and participation may require strengthening organizations’ capacity to be effective and sustainable.

The approach outlined in this handbook recognizes the multiplicity of actors in any system for development purposes, including local systems. It also recognizes the interconnectedness of these actors and the important role that each of them plays. Civil society is one of many actors to consider in a given local system, and practitioners will have to decide how best to include civil society and which partners to engage in order to accomplish food and nutrition security goals. 

Civil society provides an important link to the people we want to reach that ensures their voices are heard and are represented in projects or host country processes. For example, we support producer associations to increase the bargaining power and raise the voices of individual producers. In policy dialogues, we support local advocacy organizations and coalitions to represent the interests of farmers, fisheries or other producers while also creating stronger policy systems that are more responsive and foster mutual accountability. We recognize that strengthening and partnering with local organizations not only supports local ownership, but it also fortifies the local systems where we work to continue development efforts long after our investment ends. This handbook draws on that experience to guide future efforts to engage and increase the capacity of civil society in Feed the Future programming.

Below is a video of Nana Ayim Poakwah from the Hunger Alliance of Ghana discussing his organization's efforts to promote food security and the importance of networking and collaborating with a variety of partners to boost nutrition.