On the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, local non-governmental and community organisations fight daily to democratise the nation and strengthen its governance. To help these groups become stronger agents of change, our regional team is implementing a civil society support programme to increase engagement with government in policy dialogue.
Operating across ten districts of Zanzibar, the EU-funded Zanzibar Non-State Actors Support Programme (ZANSASP) is managed by the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. By tackling accountability, participatory development, and policy advocacy, it strives to increase non-state actor engagement in poverty reduction strategies at all levels within a rationalised and efficient legislative and regulatory framework.
As a semi-autonomous territory within the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar shares several developmental objectives with mainland Tanzaia, including poverty, low education levels, and high mortality rates. But it also faces its own unique challenges: the legacies of autocratic rule continue to be felt in the cultural, political, and socio-economic fabric of its society. Coupled with low levels of development, gender inequality, marginalisation, and entrenched poverty, the conditions paint a dire portrait of needs that must be met.
From our end, we are supporting organisations with defining and delivering projects, improving their own governance to strengthen their legitimacy, and undertaking effective advocacy and policy dialogue based on quality research and constructive engagement. Our project management team in Stone Town is also providing training support, grants, and mentoring to all organisations.
All these measures will help foster engagement on national development priorities, including health, education, democratic governance, youth and gender empowerment, employment, and more. We have also supported events like an annual meeting of Zanzibari civil society actors to raise engagement between civil society and government.
Two prominent civil society networks – ANGOZA and PASCO – have already received grants to strengthen civic engagement in the Unguja and Pemba islands. These focus on education and outreach campaigns designed to improve constituents’ understanding of constitutional rights and engagement in national development processes.
Thus far, proposals have been made for both large and small grants to strengthen the sector. The projects receiving these grants range from community-based efforts to stave off gender-based violence in Northern Unguja to mobilising residents in the historical Stone Town to lobby government to preserve their living environment.
Jennifer Tangney, Director at WYG in Nairobi, commented on our efforts: “There’s a lot of willpower to enact meaningful and positive change in Zanzibar. We’re very proud to be supporting various organisations to unite governmental and non-governmental forces to bring about a higher standard of living.”