Civil Society Organizations Help Give Citizens a Voice

At a community dialogue intervention in Mpapula ward – Mtwara, community members speak out about their experiences with violence against women and children. The dialogue was organized by WiLDAF (Women in Law and Development in Africa), one of 16 civil society organizations that received support from
At a community dialogue intervention in Mpapula ward – Mtwara, community members speak out about their experiences with violence against women and children. The dialogue was organized by WiLDAF (Women in Law and Development in Africa), one of 16 civil society organizations that received support from the USAID-funded Pamoja Twajenga Project. (Photo credit: Rhoda Nashon/WiLDAF)
At a community dialogue intervention in Mpapula ward – Mtwara, community members speak out about their experiences with violence against women and children. The dialogue was organized by Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) – Photo credit: Rhoda Nashon/WiLDAF

Several Tanzanian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government institutions of accountability, and other stakeholders met today to review progress made and lessons learned during the life of the Pamoja Twajenga Project funded by the U.S. Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Since 2013, Pamoja Twajenga implementers have worked hand-in-hand with civil society organizations and Government of Tanzania institutions of accountability to strengthen the relationship between civil society and government. Overall, the project provided training and support to 16 civil society organizations and three government institutions of accountability in Mtwara, Iringa, Dodoma, Morogoro, and Zanzibar with the goal of improving government transparency and accountability to Tanzanian citizens.

As a result of this support, select civil society organizations and institutions of accountability now have the capacity to engage in issue-based dialogue. Citizens in targeted regions – including youth, women, and disenfranchised populations – are more empowered to engage with their governments, resulting in increased responsiveness and transparent public resource management and decision-making. The civil society organizations that Pamoja Twajenga assisted work on issues directly related to citizens’ healthcare, education, food security, and natural resource management.

For example, the villagers in Kibaigwa village, Dodoma Region had to travel 45 kilometers to the nearest functioning labor ward. TACOSODE, an NGO supported by the project, helped community members negotiate with village leadership to complete a new women’s ward, prompting the village committee to petition the district government for funding. The ward was completed October 2015 and is now serving the community.

Another Pamoja Twajenga supported civil society organization, the Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT), provided training on natural resources management and social accountability to the Kiwere village in Iringa Region. This training helped the community members take action to confiscate timber being illegally harvested on their lands.

Through an array of support to targeted Tanzania civil society organizations and government institutions of accountability, Pamoja Twajenga has helped to promote a system of dialogue and engagement where organizations can achieve sustainable and significant impact as advocates in their respective sectors.

In his opening remarks at today’s event, USAID/Tanzania Deputy Mission Director David Thompson emphasized, “this initiative has been dedicated to one simple ideal: that Tanzania’s future depends on robust civic engagement by citizens from all walks of life. All of you here today, whether you represent civil society or the Government of Tanzania, have been central to making this goal a reality. Thanks to your partnership, Tanzania has taken an important step forward to improve transparency, strengthen service delivery, ensure democratic space, and help citizens advocate change.”

To request more information about this statement, please call the U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam Press Office at tel: +255-22-229-4000 or email: DPO@state.gov.