Evaluation Results from National Consultation Organizers

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1 Evaluation Results from National Consultation Organizers September 2010 Responses Received from National Consultation Organizers (24): Region Countries responded Africa (3) Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana Asia/ MENA (7) China, Bangladesh, South Korea, Lebanon, Vietnam, Tajikistan, Indonesia Europe (6) Austria, Azerbaijan, Finland, Georgia, Russia, Switzerland Latin America (7) Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Venezuela North America and Pacific (1) New Zealand Consultation Process and Participants Most of the consultations were made on invitation, with some differences amongst regions (for example: open Invitations in the Global North, more formal invitations in the Global South). When consultations were made on an invitation basis, more than 80% of the people responded positively. On average, the consultations hosted 65 participants each, with high variations amongst regions (for example: from an average of 30 participants in Europe, to an average of 111 participants in Latin America). The balance on gender was well respected with 51.5% of female attendance on average across the national consultations, which was also more or less the average within each region. On average, INGOs represented 18% of attendants; Donors constituted 8% of participants, and governments 5.5% of national consultation participants, with high variations amongst countries. 1 Page

2 How was the support you received from your Open Forum Outreach Officer in terms of From Poor (1) to Very Good (4) Report writing support correspondence and follow-up Content for the consultation Financial guidance and support Logistics guidance and support Overall the support of the Open Forum Outreach Officers to the National Consultation Organizers was felt to be very strong, especially in terms of attending the consultations in person, providing content for the consultations and assisting with developing the agenda for the consultations. National Organizers felt less supported when drafting the National Reports. Some feedback also underlined very strong and efficient collaboration between the local organizations attending the consultations. The few highlighted issues have to do with the barrier of the language (materials needed to be translated upfront), the funding (average budget set for all countries not reflecting the actual standard of living and short deadlines for transferring the funds and reporting on the actual expenses) and the Toolkit not always fully relevant to the national reality. 2 Page

3 What is your overall impression of the quality of the National Consultation in your country in terms of : From Poor Quality (1) to Highest Quality (4) Shared learning Discussions Media Coverage/Raising awareness on CSO development issues Participant engagement Representativeness of the stakeholders (CSO, government, Donors) Accessibility of Open Forum documents (re: language, online access) Information/background documentation of the Open Forum Objectives The sometimes low donor and government representation, as well as the lack of time for in-depth discussions (especially on the indicators and mechanisms) were the recurring themes from the feedback on the consultations. In regards to CSO s participation, the organizers were overall very pleased with the variety of the people and types of CSOs attending. For some countries, the low level of familiarity of participants with the issues around CSO Development Effectiveness made it difficult to make substantial progress in the discussions of principles. However, at the same time, the national consultations created an open space for promoting CSO dialogue in the country and to sensitize CSOs on the issues and debates around their effectiveness as development actors. In some specific self-funded country consultations, the national coordinating organizer s funding challenges made the organization of the consultations more difficult. 3 Page

4 The majority of organizers were highly impressed by the engagement and lively interest of participants, quality of facilitators and discussions, as well as the opportunity for shared learning that the consultations provided. Many Organizations said that the consultations became an important reference point and activity for most of the participating CSO s. In some countries in which the donor agencies are gradually withdrawing funding opportunities, for example, the Open Forum consultations provided a key moment to trigger some much-needed multi-stakeholder dialogue, and to engage in the funding discussions. With some very few exceptions, the media coverage of the consultations was very poor, mainly due to lack of time and low priority set for it, preventing the organizers to engage with the local and national media. 4 Page

5 What part of the meeting did you find most useful? Open Question In descending frequency, the most common responses to this question were: Multi-stakeholder discussions, which were felt to otherwise be quite difficult to organize in normal circumstances. These multi-stakeholder discussions helped all stakeholders grasp the positions of each other, and improved mutual understanding. Discussion of the dimensions and principles of CSO Development Effectiveness Panel discussions on the enabling environment that allowed the discussions of various topics of ongoing concerns for CSO s in their country context around enabling environment The role of CSOs as development actors Shared learning: the exchanges of opinions and best practices between local CSOs and between local and international CSOs were highly appreciated and helped in leading to a common and consolidating understanding of CSO strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and challenges they face. In terms of the international scope of the Open Forum, it was felt that the opportunity for comparison with other countries enriched the perspectives of development effectiveness analysis in-country. Discussions around legitimacy, transparency & accountability, and highlighting the need for CSO to better coordinate, do self-regulation and peers reviews, for example. Gender equality and equity, for which reflections were particularly strong. South-South cooperation opportunities (mainly in Latin America) Exploring the definition of Development Where applicable, the discussions that were organized at the sub-regional level before the main national consultation enabled CSOs to have a better sense of the overall country s issues and increased the representativeness and legitimacy of the overall national outcomes. What part of the meeting did you least useful? Open Question The very large majority of organizers found all the topics useful, with the few exceptions of: Some of the multi-stakeholder dialogue sessions, due to the very small donor and governments representation and engagement in some contexts. 5 Page

6 The sometimes endless debates on semantic issues, particularly for countries where translations were needed and the materials provoked more debates at times than they did to clarify issues. The Outreach officers contribution/speech in countries where the language was a barrier. To what extent did the National Consultation in your country fulfill its stated purpose and help to contribute to the objectives of the Open Forum? From Not at All (1) to Completely (5) Provide a space for shared learning Multi-stakeholder dialogue Discussion of minimum standards for enabling conditions Discussion of best practices for accountability mechanisms Discussion of guidelines for implementing the principles of CSO effectiveness Discussion on CSO principles of effectiveness Promotion of dialogue within civil society The consultations were felt to be very participatory, and were seen as an opportunity for open expression in sharing participants views, as well as recognition of civil society s efforts in the country and a good way of plotting the future with optimism. It was also felt that the national consultations were a good opportunity to create an open space for dialogue amongst CSO s and raised ideas that go beyond the consultations themselves. The atmosphere of discussions for all topics was felt to be very good. Some frustrations were nevertheless felt due to the limited amount of time to further discuss the principles, as well as with the low level of participation of the donor and government representatives. However, overall, it was felt that the Open Forum consultations helped to improve the understanding of the sector s role with the aim of preparing itself for HLF4 and the road ahead. 6 Page

7 Others contributions from the consultations: Highlighted the needs for diversifying funding resources Was a good forum to discuss the challenges to implement Gender Equality and Human Rights principles What follow-up activities, if any, were agreed upon at the consultation? In descending order of frequency: Publication of the national consultation report Issuing a press release on the results and main messages form the national consultation Formation of new network or platform Convening a press conference to discuss outcome of consultation Others: o Published outcomes of discussions (reports and videos) on their own internet pages in order to generate further discussions. o Actions to sensitize Governments to CSOs challenges and lobbying. o Creation of new working groups on CSO Effectiveness and/or regular Regional meetings on OF topics to better prepare the sector to the next HLF4. o Recommendations on AAA implementation sent to Donors, governments and CSOs. o Establishment of a National Civil Society Council. o Creation of new space for CSO dialogue How relevant has the Open Forum Consultation been to the work of your organisation? (/5) It was felt that the Open Forum was completely to mostly relevant to the work of the national organizer (4.55/5) The vast majority of organizers were already engaged in Development Effectiveness discussions. For Organizers less familiar with the Development Effectiveness agenda, the consultation allowed them to broaden the conversation around the CSO Development Effectiveness and accountability in their country and constituencies. 7 Page

8 How relevant has the National Consultation and the Open Forum been to the work of other civil society organizations and actors in your country? (/5) The Open Forum was considered mostly relevant (3.95/5) to the work of other civil society organizations and actors in organizer s country. The Open Forum consultations helped build a consensus on commonly accepted principles to improve Development Effectiveness and build minimum standards in the creation of an enabling environment. It helped identify the challenges in the current national context, and to establish a common agenda; it strengthened collaboration, synergy and closer working relationship between CSOs and other actors and created the foundation for Development Effectiveness discussions in some countries that lack the theoretical basis on this issue. In countries facing donors agencies withdrawing funds and support to CSOs, the Open Forum national consultation was a good opportunity to discuss CSO s self-determination. As previously mention, although most of the organizers were disappointed by the low participation of donors and Government representatives, they acknowledge the effort that will open new opportunities for further collaboration and dialogue. In some countries were the multi-stakeholder dialogue was non-existent, it was hoped that the OF would help donor agencies and governments to better understand the reality of CSOs on the field and their role as development actors in the country. It was mentioned that the Open Forum process sometimes seems too far away from the everyday work of grassroots and small NGOs. The risk of ending up with an empty document compared to the richness of the discussions was also stressed. However, it was commonly felt that CSOs are at the beginning of this challenge, and that time is needed to bring about ultimate change. 8 Page

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