Civil society participation in governance reform processes and poverty reduction

Project description

Title: Political participation in governance reform processes and poverty reduction in Zambia
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union
Country: Zambia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Justice
Overall term: 2015 to 2021

Zambia. A representative from a civil society organisation making her input in a dialogue forum for the civil society contribution to the Sixth National Development Plan. © GIZ (Manfred Wichmann)


Although Zambia has a remarkably democratic tradition, there are still too few openings for civil society to participate in social and political decision making, or to demand transparency and accountability in the activities of the government and administration The relationship between the state and civil society is not without conflict.

GIZ has been working with Zambian non-governmental organisations and networks at both local and national levels since 2005. As of April 2012, that support has broadened its focus to include efforts to promote dialogue and cooperation between state institutions and civil society.


Civil society organisations and networks, and relevant state actors participate responsibly in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of governance reform processes and poverty reduction policies.


The programme aims to strengthen the political involvement of civil society and promote constructive relations between the state and society. It therefore cooperates with civil society organisations (CSOs) that are committed to reforming governance, and it promotes dialogue and cooperation between the state and society.

The programme supports several CSOs in the development and application of strategies to improve their efficacy and sustainability. It also promotes the citizen orientation, accountability and transparency of relevant state institutions; and it is assisting CSOs in developing evidence-based inputs into policy formulation, implementation and monitoring.

From January 2011 to March 2014, with funding provided by the European Union, the programme supported five Zambian criminal justice institutions in carrying out a judicial reform programme called ‘Access to Justice’. This comprised assistance for the courts, the police, the public prosecutor’s office, the legal aid system and the prisons administration, in order to improve their performance, especially in terms of service provision to disadvantaged population groups. The programme provided these institutions with technical, organisational and administrative advice, as well as extensive infrastructural improvements, material assistance and training. Civil society organisations were involved, in particular, in the fields of legal aid and public relations.

Today, as well as the European Union, Irish Aid and the UK Department for International Development (UKAid) are co-financing the programme.


The CSOs which received support are now working more effectively as representatives of society’s interests in governance reform processes and in poverty reduction. This has led to the assimilation of significant civil society positions in both the Fifth and the Sixth National Development Plans, an in the annual budgets and other important public policies.

The partner organisations have improved their structures of internal organisation and now work with greater professionalism. Constructive dialogue and coordination mechanisms involving state and non-state actors have been developed and successfully tested. These mechanisms will promote access to the law for disadvantaged sections of the population.

Working together with a number of donors, the programme contributed financially and conceptually to the setting up of the Zambian Governance Foundation, an instrument which should improve the resources, competences and performance of CSOs.


Further information