Irish Aid works closely with a wide range of Civil Society Organisations who make an important contribution to the eradication of poverty, hunger and human rights violations. Their work at grassroots level enables them to advocate for and empower local communities to participate in their own development. In 2015, funding to NGO and Civil Society Organisations was €168 million or 26% of Ireland’s total overseas aid budget. This funding supported the work of CSOs in developing countries across the world, particularly in least developed countries.
Civil society is seen as the space between the household and the State. This space is where citizens can provide or advocate for services where the State does not fulfill its primary responsibility to provide necessary services.
We work with a wide range of civil society organisations, embracing a number of different actors with individual roles and mandates. While our primary focus is on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), we also support the work of groups and associations such as:
In the overseas development programme, we recognise that the delivery of services is primarily the responsibility of the state but CSOs play an important role in ensuring that poor people and communities have a voice and participate in decisions.
Civil society organisations play an important role in ensuring that poor people and communities have a voice and participate in decisions.
This can result in better services and the promotion and protection of human rights. Our support for civil society is aimed at encouraging and promoting partnership between government and civil society and in doing so we are guided by the Irish Aid Civil Society Policy 2008. The policy’s main objectives are to support:
Irish Aid supports CSOs working at international, national and community level in a range of sectors including governance, health, education, agriculture, gender equality, disability and human rights, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. We do this in a number of ways:
In the delivery of our country strategy plans in our partner countries, CSOs are supported to promote accountability, and pilot new, innovative approaches and advocacy.
Funding is provided for small development projects undertaken by local CSOs in a limited number of developing countries that are not key partner countries.
Significant funding is allocated to Irish and international NGOs for their long-term development, emergency and human rights and conflict resolution work, as well as development education and public awareness initiatives.
See Annex 14 of the Irish Aid Annual Report 2015 for a list of organisations that received funding through the main civil society funding schemes administered by Irish Aid HQ.