The stage is set for the annual Civil Society Convention slated for Thursday at Mestil Hotel in Kampala. The invite-only event is expected to bring together international and national civil society organizations working in Uganda.
The organizers of the convention, set to attract up to 250 CSO leaders, aim to provide a platform for stakeholders from civil society, the government, and the private sector to network and showcase the positive contribution of civil society to Uganda’s development agenda.
In addition to fostering networking, the convention seeks to support a multi-stakeholder dialogue, reflect on stumbling blocks and challenges within the sector, and identify potential solutions.
Mr. Nicolas Gonze, the team leader of governance for the EU Delegation in Uganda, emphasized the essential role civil society plays in socio-economic progress, governance, service delivery, and advocacy for vulnerable groups in Europe. He highlighted the European Union’s support for Uganda in various areas to achieve sustainable development.
Mr. Tassilo von Droste, the head of Civil Society in Uganda Support Programme (CUSP) at GIZ, mentioned that the program, in partnership with the Nation Media Group (NMG), offers a valuable opportunity for civil society organizations to showcase their work and engage in constructive dialogue with government and the private sector.
He stressed the importance of creating a conducive space for civil society, emphasizing its role in transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption efforts, leading to better human rights observance.
Mr. Von Droste emphasized the need for collaboration between state institutions and civil society organizations to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
He further noted that civil society organizations make significant contributions to development in Uganda, complementing government efforts in key social sectors like education, health, access to energy, water, and sanitation. Civil society is estimated to contribute over Shs1.2 trillion to Uganda’s GDP annually and employs thousands of Ugandans.
Ms. Alicia van den Boom, the head of cooperation at the German embassy, highlighted the role of CSOs as a platform for citizens to engage in the democratic process, ensuring their voices are heard and their concerns addressed. She also stressed that CSOs act as a bridge between the government and the people, fostering transparency, accountability, and participation in decision-making processes.
Mr. Moses Isooba, the executive director of Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF), acknowledged the critical role CSOs played during the Covid-19 pandemic. He also pointed out that the sector faces challenges, including a shrinking civic space for operations, administrative requirements, and decreasing funding.
Mr. Sam Barata, the general manager-commercial at NMG-U, the main sponsor of the event, expressed the Nation Media Group’s commitment to highlighting the impact of CSOs’ work across the country, underscoring the importance of their partnership in organizing the convention.