Civil society organisations of varied forms have been pivotal to Uganda’s development trajectory, particularly as far as institutional reforms are concerned. By leveraging the coordinated efforts of people, a strong and vibrant civil society plays an important role in economic development, poverty reduction and the promotion of pluralism.
In Uganda, Civil society organisations are viewed as service providers. They are involved in the provision of a variety of public services such as health and education services, or more targeted efforts towards emergency response, conflict management and advocating the rights of marginalized groups in society. Developments in technology, especially in relation to online forums, is emerging as a critical tool shaping the way civil society interacts with citizens. Emerging trends, such as social media and expert blogs, now offer faster modes of disseminating information and a nonhierarchical mode of communication where CSOs can respond directly to citizens, regardless of their geographical location.
In Uganda, citizen civic engagement has focused largely on social activities that promote community service. For example, the Rotary Club of Uganda, with over 400 clubs spread across the country, has been very consistent in mobilizing certain sections of the population to raise money and volunteers to address community problems such as access to education and health by the socially deprived members of the community.
Therefore, the current structure of the economy has attenuated the contextual conditions necessary for the growth of a vibrant civil society. Internal governance of CSOs is essential for creating strong accountability structures, required for fostering membership trust and strengthening cohesiveness within the organization. Analytical evidence, however, suggests that many CSOs in Uganda are constrained by a number of bottlenecks that inhibit their capacity to build strong and accountable organisations. These include administrative constraints, weak economic base among others.