Utbildning i integration och ökat samarbete hos en lokal organisation i Brasilien.

Training for increased cooperation at a local organisation in Brazil.

Photo: Julio Pantoja/World Bank

Civil society organisations

About cooperation with civil society

Published: 18 December 2012 Updated: 23 May 2014

Sida supports civil society actors as they have a key role in reducing poverty, contribute to democratic development and increase respect for human rights. They also have an important role in conflicts because they contribute to peace and reconciliation, as well as to humanitarian crises where they assist people in need.

The overall goal of the cooperation is a viable and pluralistic civil society in developing countries that effectively contributes to reducing poverty. Civil society organisations (CSOs) have an important role as they are the voice of poor and marginalised groups, and a provider of services such as health and education.

The work should be carried out with a rights perspective, to strengthen the individual's own right to influence his or her life situation and development. Sweden’s support to the civil society should also contribute to Sida's mission to enable people living in poverty to improve their lives. Cooperation with civil society is also a way to contribute to the reform cooperation in Eastern Europe, in the form of strengthened democracy, equitable and sustainable development and an advance towards the European Union and its basic values.

Sida's support to special initiatives for democratisation and freedom of expression is also an important part of the cooperation, through the reduction of various forms of vulnerability and oppression.

The purpose of humanitarian work carried out by many organisations is to save lives, reduce suffering and maintain human dignity during armed conflicts, natural disasters and other situations of hardship.

Sweden's embassies are also an important source of support to CSOs. They work with local organisations, and promote their engagement in local decision-making and policy work.

Organisations – a strong player

A significant part of Sweden’s development assistance is carried out in cooperation with CSOs in our cooperation countries. Sida emphasises the organisations’ particular ability to:

  • create opportunities for organising and creating channels through which individuals and groups - particularly discriminated or marginalised people living in poverty - can make their voices heard and influence the development of their society;
  • make their voices heard and come up with new ideas and suggestions, and serve as watchdogs by monitoring those in power;
  • counterbalance and constitute a democratic force within the state, both in general and especially in authoritarian regimes:
  • provide public education to strengthen the poor and discriminated and their capacity to change their lives;
  • organise and perform public services, and
  • contribute to peace and reconciliation efforts in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Great part of the aid to civil society

A significant part of Sida's support goes to development cooperation conducted by the civil society through the framework organisations, strategic partner organisations, and through special support for democratisation and freedom of expression. The total support to the civil society is however much larger. Among other things, Sida provides direct support to Swedish, international and national/local organisations for the implementation of Sida's cooperation strategy in various countries and regions. CSOs are also partners in the framework for support to multilateral organisations such as UNICEF. Sida's overall support to the civil society is estimated to amount to one third of Sida's total budget.

Swedish civil society organisations can also receive funding for communication activities about development cooperation. The purpose is to provide the Swedish public with a broad and balanced picture of Swedish aid and its results. This support is only available to NGOs in Sweden.

Indirect support

Sweden also provides indirect support to civil society by helping to create a favourable social climate to work in. The expression “social climate” refers to institutional, legal, political and administrative conditions that enable civil society’s existence, activities and efficiency. This support is a part of the current aid effectiveness agenda (a global agreement on best practices to make aid more effective) as well as a part of Sweden's commitment before and after the large international forum on aid effectiveness in Busan (Nov 2011).


Page owner: Department for Partnerships and Innovations

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