The Civic Engagement Alliance is a joint collaboration between 11 Dutch non-governmental organizations in partnership with and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The partnership runs between 2016 and 2020.

The members of the alliance are: CNV Internationaal, ICCO Cooperation, Edukans, Kerk in Actie, Prisma, Wilde Ganzen, Woord en Daad, Light for the World, Leprazending, Red een Kind and Tear. These are a trade union, education and development organizations that have a link to (Christian) organizations and constituencies in the Netherlands and other similar international networks. The Alliance’s members contribute their expertise in the fields of inclusive development, capacity development, labour rights, strengthening small-scale farmers, vocational training and working with the private sector, with a focus on the agri-food sector and lobby and advocacy as an integral part of their programs.

In 2015 a Theory of Change was concretized and followed in 2016 by baseline surveys in each program country. The program has an overall Theory of Change, and linked to that, 4 Theory of Changes for the areas we operate in. These are:

  • Political space for civil society organizations
  • The Right to adequate food
  • Small producer empowerment and inclusive markets
  • Towards a sustainable private sector

We create unconventional coalitions for lobby and advocacy at different levels, both in the Netherlands and in the partner countries. Our policy is characterized by an alternation of a carrot-and-stick and dialogue approach, depending on time and place.

The programs of the Alliance are delivered in a total of 12 countries and one region (Central America). Each country follows a specific pathway of change. An important condition for the alliance and NGOs to work effectively is the political space in a country. The CIVICUS monitor provides close to real-time data on the state of civil society. Countries are rated on a 5-point scale, ranging from ‘open’ to ‘closed’. The table gives an overview of the ratings of the countries where we implement our Civic Engagement Alliance program.

It emphasizes the importance of ongoing lobby for civil society space, but also makes clear that we have to be modest in the expected results. It is not realistic to expect easy changes. However there are encouraging examples of positive civic space development in different countries. They provide hope and our support is necessary and welcomed.


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