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FEATURE STORY August 20, 2019

Engaging Civil Society for Better Development Impact

The World Bank’s work in Africa includes engaging a wide range of diverse stakeholders—both within and of national governments—to share perspectives and build partnerships that strengthen development outcomes. In particular, civil society organizations (CSOs), faith-based organizations (FBOs), and members of parliaments (MPs) have emerged as vital forces for achieving development effectiveness in African countries.

The World Bank Africa region’s strategy for civil society focuses on four pillars:

  • Strengthening engagement with civil society, parliamentarians and faith-based organizations at the country and regional levels for effective local development solutions 

  • Partnering on actions to promote social inclusion of the marginalized in the development process

  • Promoting social accountability including CSOs’ monitoring of Bank operations for development effectiveness

  • Advocating for and promoting greater voice and space for African civil society in the development debate

CSO’s are at the forefront of the development work in the countries. By working closely with communities, CSOs can help ensure that the voice and needs of local populations are taken into account in the design of development programs. As leaders in their communities, members of parliaments can give voice to the aspirations of citizens who want to fulfill their potential. Engaging with all stakeholders will help the Bank learn a lot from them and provide opportunities to have frank informed discussions on issues pertaining to Africa’s development. By sharing and listening to each other, the Bank and civil society can build stronger relationships to advance common development goals.

In recent years, the Bank’s relationship with civil society has grown stronger and there has been a marked increase in the participation of CSOs as third-party monitors of Bank operations in several countries. Civil society actively participates in the preparation of key Bank instruments such as systematic country diagnostics, country partnership frameworks, development policy loans and much more. The Bank’s Africa Region recently launched the “Africa CSO and Parliamentary Development Dialogue,” which offers a regional platform to engage quarterly around key regional priorities.

Civil society and members of parliaments are true partners in achieving development effectiveness at the highest level. Working closely together could ensure better opportunities for Africa’s people, as evidenced by some of the successful engagements with civil society and members of parliaments in these 11 African countries. The unique political context of each country drives these stakeholder engagements, resulting in a variety of activities and best practices that can be adapted elsewhere.