FCS at 15: Spinning the wheels of civil society in Tanzania

On November 24th this year, the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) celebrated its 15th anniversary. This is one and a half decades of dedicated work to provide funding and capacity building services to one of the most vibrant and very crucial social sectors in modern Tanzania - the civil society sector.

Foundation hosted a commemorative summit with theme “Spinning the wheels of civil society” at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre (JNICC). This event brought together Foundation’s Development Partners (DPs), civil society organizations, local as well as international development stakeholders, the media and representatives from the Government led by a staunch stakeholder of the civil society and long-time friend of Foundation, Hon. Jenister Mhagama, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Policy, Parliament, Labour, Employment, Youth and People with Disability.

Hon. Jenister Mhagama represented the Guest of Honour, the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon. Mama Samia Suluhu.

The summit convened for a full day of themed keynote talks, policy reflections and plenary discussions looking at the role and contribution of Foundation and CSOs in the past 15 years of socio-economic development of Tanzania.

In her speech which was read by Minister Mhagama, the Guest of Honour commended the 15 years of cooperation between Foundation, the government, the civil society, development partners and other stakeholders on effecting positive changes to the lives of Tanzanians. “We are thankful and impressed by the Tzs 150 billion worth of grants issued to over 5,000 civil society organisations (CSOs) all over the nation. These have impacted the lives of thousands of Tanzanians. If it were an infrastructure project, it definitely would have been large scale”

She added that her government highly appreciate development partners’ assistance, particularly for their continued support to Foundation and the civil society sector in the country, and challenged CSOs to explore ways of working with the private sector through public-private-partnership (PPP) to sustain their operations and continue impacting the lives of more people.

The overall objective of this commemorative one day summit was to reflect on the role the civil society, and in particular Foundation, have played in supporting government’s efforts in achieving its goals and targets of bringing development to its people, especially the poor during the last 15 years, and on how to build upon these achievements for the coming years.

In his opening remarks, Foundation’s Executive Director Mr Francis Kiwanga revealed that the commemoration theme was aimed at reflecting the importance of the civil society sector in Tanzania’s national development. He reiterated appreciation towards development partner’s support in enabling Foundation to fund diverse projects in areas such as gender equality, children rights, land rights, awareness on HIV and AIDs, democracy deepening, citizens’ engagement and peace management.

The main events of the summit were in the form of participatory panel discussions and workshops in which respected analysts on social and development issues presented special topics of concern for Tanzania’s journey of development and the special role the CSOs have in this endeavour.

The panels and workshops involved discussion on a number of issues related to a broad range of relevant topics such as poverty alleviation, gender rights and relations, human rights, good governance, social justice, democracy and marginalization. These issues are not only of concern for Tanzania itself but also are on international agenda of development such as those in the UN2030 agenda for global development (SDGs) of which the civil society sector has a major role in their local realization.

In her speech on behalf of other development partners, the Swiss Ambassador to Tanzania, Her Excellence Madam Florence Tinguely Mattli lauded Foundation for recording notable achievements towards transforming the social and economic lives of poor Tanzanians through its support to the civil society. She says “Through your support to CSOs here, Tanzania has been recognized as having a vibrant and diverse civil society sector in Africa and around the world. We are confident that Foundation’s work is ensuring expanded democracy, improved accountability and realization of human rights of marginalized groups such as those of poor women, youth and the elderly”.

She added that “As Development Partners, we have therefore taken a step back and FCS – including its Board – is today a fully Tanzanian organization. However, we keep supporting Foundation’s mission and mandate as the organization continues to be the local grant making and CSOs strengthening pillar that Tanzania so much needs”

Throughout the discussions, the special relationship between the civil society sector with both the government and the corporate/private sector was tabled for discussion as an alternative source of sustainability for CSOs’ operations and the sector in general, which currently relies heavily on sole support from development partners. The summit agreed that these three parties need to work together in realising true socio-economic development and alleviating poverty for the masses.


The problems and challenges that Foundation and the civil society sector have experienced in the last 15 years are a stepping stone to more maturity for both the sector and Foundation. 

Tanzania civil society held self-reflection to review 30 years of its work

On 13 and 14 of October, 2017 more than 60 civil society representatives from Tanzania gathered in Arusha for a two-day civil society organisations (CSOs) Self Reflection Meeting. During this meeting, CSOs directors, veteran CSOs practitioners, representatives from government, academicians and other stakeholders had a joint self-reflection by setting aside time to quietly and honestly review the civil society sector after 30 years of operation. The workshop addressed urgent and emerging concerns voiced by civil society in Tanzania, in the midst of the national trend of increased restrictions on the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression. Participants discussed relevant laws, policies and practices in Tanzania as well as regional and internal reflection of the sector. They also agreed on national and regional advocacy priorities.

Key issues discussed

Challenges: The CSOs sector is faced with various challenges ranging from coordination, regulations (compliance issues), funding, sustainability of the sector, harmonious working relationship, management, power and succession plan, skewed accountability, reporting, continuous changing of objectives, internal conflicts, lack of transparency and accountability, CSO’s promoting things that contradict the rules and regulations of the government, NGO’s being used as political vessels especially during the election process, insufficient knowledge of the CSOs sector, human resource capacity to mention but a few. As solution, participants were urged to pay attention to details, share experiences, challenges and opportunities in order to have a common way of operating the sector.

Sector evaluation survey: The survey’s findings include the lack of solidarity in conducting various interventions and priorities as to what the sector wants to achieve as well as unhealthy relationships among CSOs and other stakeholders. This results into lack trust towards CSOs leading to the work of CSOs becoming ineffective. There is a need for a whole new and complimenting way of working that encourages cooperation, partnerships and unity among the CSOs.

Freedom and right to operate: There is a need to boldly defend civil society space as serious ingredient of CSOs as partners of development for the government, hence the sector should be demand driven and go with current global dynamics. There should be a mentorship programmes with continued learning efforts from other countries about their best practices, techniques and approaches in order to strengthen the sector here.

Regional experience sharing: Regional wise, it was discussed that in order to firmly locate the role of CSOs/NGOs/CBOs/FBOs in our society, there is a need to adopting innovative approaches that are effective and have impact to communities. More engagement is needed with the governments and our focus should be more consultative and less combative in interventions on the ground. Also CSOs should be more engaged at regional level at EAC, SADC and African Union. Participants also agreed there is need to seek national resource mobilization strategies for enhanced effectiveness.


Regulatory framework and compliance: Participants discussed various issues on laws, regulatory framework and compliance and it was recommended that there is a need to compile a compendium of all laws, policies, regulations and rules that are affect the operations of the sector in Tanzania and make periodic updates and have it shared across the sector.  

Dr. Stigmata Tenga elected President of Foundation

Dr Stigmata Tenga and the Executive Director Francis Kiwanga

On 28th September 2017, Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) held its Annual General Meeting at its offices in Dar es Salaam, which was attended by its Members, Board of Directors and the Management team. The meeting adopted the Annual Report and Audited Accounts for year 2016 and also elected Dr. Stigmata Tenga as the President of Foundation while Ms Olive Luena was appointed as a new Member. 


Ms Magreth Chacha and Prof Honest Ngowi at the FCS annual general meeting

At the same event Ms Margareth Chacha was appointed as the new Board Chairperson of Foundation while new Board Members were also appointed. 

Women with disability establish a national network

The Tanzania Women with Disability Network was established by the Women Department of the Tanzania Federation of Disabled People’s Organisations (SHIVYAWATA) on October 13 with the aim of creating a national platform bringing together women with disabilities. Its objectives include:

1.       To become a platform for awareness, advocacy and dialogue on all issues regarding women with disability and development

2.       To linkup women with disability and the government and other development stakeholders

3.       To afford women with disability with a collective voice on promoting and driving forward the agenda of rights for women with disability

The event was graced by Hon. Amina Mollel (MP) on behalf of Hon. Sofia Mjema, Chairperson of Dar es Salaam Women Economic Empowerment Board. In her speech, the Guest of Honour revealed that women with disability face many challenges including the lack of PWD-friendly infrastructure at health, education and work places, difficulty in accessing health and medical services for women with disability, little participation/involvement in the decision making process at all levels and poverty and little awareness on special needs of PWDs.

About 73 delegates participated from Women Department from various CSOs as follow:

§  Tanzania Albino Society   (TAS)

§  Tanzania League of the Blind (TLB)

§  Chama cha Viziwi Tanzania (CHAVITA)

§  Chama cha Walemavu Tanzania ( CHAWATA)

§  Tanzania Association of the Deaf Blind (TASODEB)

§  Tanzania Association for the Mentally Handcapped  (TAHM)

§  Kilimanjaro Association of Spinal Cord Injuries ( KASI)

§  Psoriasis Association of Tanzania ( PSORATA)

§  Tanzania Users and Survivors of Psychiatric Organization (TUSPO)

§  Association of Spinal Bifida and Hydocephalous of Tanzania (ASBAHT)

The delegates discussed various issues of interest to women with disability including development of the new network and resource mobilisation for its operations. One of the most important issues discussed was the representation of women with disability from every district in the country from all government departments with PWDs. This is viewed as an entry point for the network to have a national reach.


Apart from the establishment of this forum, Foundation for Civil Society support to SHIVYAWATA this year also facilitates monthly forums on women PWDs. 

FCS conducts Joint Monitoring Visit (JMV) in Mbeya region

A courtesy call at the Kyela District Commissioner during JMV

This year, Foundation for Civil Society continued with its tradition of engaging its key stakeholders in the Joint Monitoring Visit by heading to the Southern Highland region of Mbeya. This round of the JMV was held in 23-25 October, 2017 and involved FCS Board, Development Partners (DPs) delegates, government representative and team from FCS.

The visitors had opportunity to engage with FCS grantees (project implementers), community leaders and local government officials in their respective districts. In each visited project, there is a notable strong collaboration and technical backstopping from relevant government technical officials, particularly in:

1.       Facilitating delivery of crucial services to children with disability.

2.       Building capacities of regional civil society organisations (CSOs) network.

3.       Empowering people living with HIV (PLWH).

4.       Improvement of public service delivery in education and health sectors.


Visited grantees

JMV delegation visiting Child Support Tanzania centre in Mbeya

Child Support Tanzania: Promoting all inclusive education for children with disability in Mbeya

CST is a CSO registered in 2008 that among its work, runs the CST Inclusive School, a centre dedicated to providing a nurturing environment for critical early year learning and development to most vulnerable children in Mbeya region. The School, under a 6month project called Take All My Friends To School, is founded on the belief that all children have potential no matter their social and economic background. It works to improve the quality of Inclusive Education for children with disabilities, promotes community attitudinal change towards this and facilitates improvement of capacity of district level government officials to deliver Inclusive Education.

The project targets children with disability and their parents, about 120 teachers and relevant local government officials at all levels in the region and districts involved.

Mbeya NGO Network (MBENGONET): An umbrella for the civil society in the region

MBENGONET is a civil society organisations (CSOs) network for Mbeya region representing eight members from Kyela (KYENGONET), Mbarali (USANGONET), Rungwe (RONGONET), Mbeya Urban (MBECINGONET), Mbozi (MNN), Ileje (ILENGONET), Chunya (CHUNGONET) and Mbeya Rural (MBEDINGONET). The network implements a project on improvement of service delivery on education and health sectors with activities including providing training to various CSO sector stakeholders in the region, hosting forums in every district on improvement of service delivery on the focus sectors and providing public education and awareness campaigns through community radios in the districts.

Jitambue Lembuka Tanzania: Promoting good governance in Kyela district

JLT is a CSO based in Kyela district with 10 members and their main focus is social and development work on poverty eradication, consultancy, social actions, peer education and awareness on issues of social services such as health, environment protection and agriculture. For year 2016, JLT was funded by Foundation on their project on social accountability monitoring and improvement in the health sector in Ipinda, Mwaya, Lusungo, Matema, Kyela, Itope, Ipande and Ngana wards.

Tumaini WAVIU Network: Promoting sexual and reproductive health education to students and pupils 

This is a network established in 2006 to bring together people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Kyela district, Mbeya region. The CSO also works in areas of fight against HIV/AIDS and poverty, women, girls and youth empowerment as well as rights for people with disability. Foundation facilitated their project focusing on improvement of service delivery in education and health for girls in primary and secondary schools.

Mbeya HIV/AIDS Network Tanzania: Taking youth empowerment to the grassroots 

Mbeya HIVAIDS/Network Tanzania (MHNT) is a network with 26 members and focuses on community centered approaches to HIV prevention, CBHTC, HTC, TB and Cervical cancer screening services in the region. Its members cover Districts of Mbeya and Songwe regions namely Mbeya City, Mbeya District Council, Rugwe, Busokelo, Kyela, Mbozi, Momba, Mbarali, Chunya and Ileje. It has outreach of 162 Wards out of 218 Wards which represent 74% coverage of the two regions.


MHNT works with the Foundation for Civil Society through a project focusing on Creating youth platform and conducive environment for developmental discussions among youth and holding government accountable in 5 Wards of Mbeya Rural district in Mbeya Region. The project was implemented from 1st October 2016 to 30th March 2017. 


A vote of thanks for JMV delegation


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