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Connecting People and Ideas for Integrated Development

SUNY Tanzania Organizes 2nd Civil Society Organization (CSO) Exhibition at Parliament


The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Honorable Anne Makinda, cuts a ribbon to officially open the 2006 CSO Exhibition as SUNY Tanzania team member Beatrice Massawe and Country Director, Donna Bugby-Smith look on

The State University of New York's/Center for International Development Parliamentary Strengthening Program in Tanzania brought together indigenous Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from all over the country to place their lobbying and advocacy agendas in front of their elected Members of Parliament.

The Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania meets in the administrative capital, Dodoma for times a year and Dodoma is over 6 hours drive away from the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. Therefore to reflect the size and diversity of Tanzania it was important to draw from as wide a geographic area as possible. The citizen groups in attendance at the Exhibition, similar to what we know as NGOs in the US, represented a variety of issues including: rural development, environment, human rights, good governance, gender, youth, HIV/Aids and education. The 2-day Exhibition was preceded by a meeting day specifically designed for CSOs to discuss their collective agenda and to ensure that specific policy and legislative platforms to initiate dialogue with their elected leaders, were developed in advance. To maximize access to Parliamentarians, the Exhibition itself was held within the Parliamentary grounds while Members of Parliament were debating draft legislation. Each CSO was provided with a stall to display the work of its organization and to convey its message through a variety of media, including informal presentations, policy briefs and memoranda, research reports, videos, and poster displays. The event was also covered by the local press media and live commentary from the Exhibition was broadcast in Swahili on the local television and radio stations.

The first-ever Exhibition took place in July 2004. Both Exhibitions were organized by SUNY/Tanzania and jointly supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.K. Department for International Development (DfID). The 2006 event saw some 68+ CSOs represented and in excess of 250 Members of Parliament together with their support staff toured the Exhibition.

With a look ahead to the sustainability of future events of its kind, this year SUNY/Tanzania partnered with the Foundation for Civil Society, a local organization which provides grants and other capacity building support to CSOs to encourage them to participate in the democratic process. It is our hope that the Foundation will take the lead and support future, locally-owned Exhibitions, thus ensuring sustainability of the initiatives that the Program team seeks to promote in terms of increased citizen access to Parliament.

The relationship between Parliament and Civil Society is still in its infancy. Challenges to Tanzania's development show no sign of abating and with a newly inaugurated President elected on the platform of "new vigor, new zeal and new speed," there is no better time for these two groups to join together, one with technical knowledge and expertise related to these challenges and the other with the power to translate that knowledge into action.

Updated July 16, 2013

View All SUNY/CID News Stories from 2006