Ugandan civil society organisations can play a crucial role for the development of the country, the Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Uganda, Amb. Attilio PACIFICI said Thursday in Kampala.

“We believe that CSOs can and should play a crucial role for the development of any country. We also firmly believe in the strong benefits for everyone resulting from a constructive collaboration between state agencies and civil society organisations,” PACIFICI said yesterday at the launch of a Shs118 billion ‘Civil Society in Uganda Support Programme (CUSP)’ at Sheraton Kampala Hotel.

He said the programme would enhance the efforts to promote a conducive environment for CSOs, promote a meaningful and structured participation of CSOs in domestic policies and increase local CSOs’ capacity to perform their roles as independent actors more effectively.

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“The programme we are launching today will support the implementation of the legal framework providing the conditions for the work of civil society in Uganda – such as the NGO Act. The programme will also support the promotion of institutionalised consultation processes between the state and civil society,” he said.

Amb. PACIFICI said there is a huge underutilised potential for interaction between civil society and the state on domestic policies. “The CUSP programme will contribute to strengthen the capacities of state and civil society actors to use existing consultative processes more effectively and to build trust between state and civil society,” he added.

The programme, he said, would provide technical and financial support to a wide range of civil society organisations (including NGOs, trade unions, employer federations and so on) to build their capacity.

The programme will complement other EU financed programmes to support civil society such as the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.

“This new programme will not only support CSOs operating out of Kampala but will also operate through regional hubs. The hubs in Gulu and in Mbale will be launched soon and additional hubs in other regions may be established in the future,” he said.

Guests at the launch of the programme included; Chairperson of the National Planning Authority, Dr. Wilberforce Kisamba Mugerwa, the Chargé d’Affaires of the German Embassy, Ms. Petra Kochendörfer, the Country Director of GIZ Uganda, Mr. Christian Schnurre, and a Member of the Board of the NGO Bureau Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya.

The audience was composed of representatives of government ministries, civil society, the media and other invited guests.

“CUSP’s definition of civil society includes all actors that are non-state and non-profit”, emphasised Ms. Petra Kochendörfer. “Hence, the programme will address a wide range of civil society actors in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture and governance”, she added.

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