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Civil Society Activities

AKF's Civil Society activities are now a part of broader AKDN-wide civil society programme. For more information, please see:
The New AKDN Civil Society programme.

Introduction to AKF Civil Society Activities
AKF's civil society activities focus on extending, improving and sustaining health, education and welfare services for the poor by creating partnerships involving government, business and citizen organisations.

This thematic area draws together two long-standing Foundation concerns. First, it provides an umbrella for the Foundation's response to the oft-expressed needs of many of its partners for advice and related institutional strengthening services. It also seeks to promote an "enabling environment" for the emerging non-profit citizen sector in countries where the Foundation works.

His Highness the Aga Khan first used the term "enabling environment" in 1983 in Kenya, initiating dialogue that led to an Africa-wide Enabling Environment Conference in 1986. Since then, the Foundation has monitored those aspects of the wider environment that most directly shape the attitudes and behaviour of governments and business toward citizen organizations. It seeks to promote laws and corporate policies that favour indigenous philanthropic giving, thereby facilitating a break from dependency on foreign aid. It also actively promotes volunteerism as a vital way for local organizations to root themselves in a renewable "citizen base". This concern took shape in 1998-2000 at the Pakistan Initiative for Indigenous Philanthropy, in the Conference on Indigenous Philanthropy, held in Islamabad on October 16 and 17, 2000. The conferees there endorsed the Initiative's proposal to establish the Pakistan Centre for Indigenous Philanthropy, which receives Foundation support.

Crucial Role of Grassroots Organizations
From its earliest work in rural development, the Foundation has emphasized the crucial role of strong grassroots organizations. Its rural support programmes became successful intermediary vehicles to facilitate a village-driven approach to increasing rural incomes and asset building. The Foundation found in them an institutional mechanism that enabled it to channel effective support to resource-poor settings. The original model of social organization developed in northern Pakistan has been replicated by a host of actors in diverse national settings. The diffusion process continues as the Foundation in East Africa, for instance, promotes the concept of community-generated "mini-endowments". It is encouraging community members to adapt and apply traditional savings and social investment practices to create a sustaining financial base for early childhood programmes.

The independent citizen sector is composed of a variety of such community groups. Because nearly all of them require support services, the Foundation helps establish "resource centres" to promote their sustainable and equitable growth. The first two NGO Resource Centres, launched in Pakistan in 1993 and Zanzibar in 1996, have four inter-related functions: capacity building for development-oriented groups; management training to increase their efficiency; information and communications activities to arm them with needed information and to raise public awareness of their vital role in society; and stimulation of an enabling legal, fiscal and regulatory environment.
> More information: The New AKDN Civil Society programme

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