First Check-In

The USAID/ Uganda Civil Society Strengthening Activity (CSSA) is a five-year program that brings together the East West Management Institute, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Uganda’s Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations, and Common Ground Consulting. CSSA is working to strengthen Ugandan civil society organizations in four main areas: health; education, youth and child development; agriculture and food security; and democracy, rights and governance. CSSA is supporting national and regional civil society organizations to influence local and national development, to improve the organizational capacity so these organizations can fulfill their missions, and to enable an environment that sustains a vibrant civil society.

 Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I will, unfortunately, not be able to travel to Kampala, where the team is working. Instead, I will be working virtually from the United States. Although I have never traveled to Uganda, one of my best friends from undergrad at the University of Michigan is currently working at an embassy in Uganda and I have been able to talk with her about her experiences, current events, the politics of the region and how they are dealing with the pandemic. I have been able to meet with the director of the project over Zoom and I look forward to meeting with more members of the team as I continue to learn and work.

 During my first week, I read over the three main projects that CSSA will be working on over the summer and I was able to select the one that I wanted to focus my work on. I decided to work on the Assessment on Public Participation Mechanisms in Uganda. This project will focus on working to strengthen the engagement between civil society and government regulators to contribute to more enabling laws, regulations and policies for civil society in Uganda. Article 38 of the Constitution of Uganda affirm citizens’ rights to participate in the governance of their country through elected representatives and civil organizations. Much of my research will focus on the current frameworks and mechanisms of public participation and how to strengthen coordination between these organizations and the government. I have started reviewing and will continue to research the Constitution, current laws, court cases, current events, academic reports and other materials to learn more about the how civil society operates and collaborates with the government in Uganda.

 I have enjoyed the research so far and have started reading Ugandan newspapers online in the mornings to learn more about the country. This has been a great way to learn about the problems that they are facing, the issues that people are interested in there and the politics of the country. I have also ordered a few books on the history and government of Uganda so that I can continue to learn about the country in my down time. Even though I can’t be in Kampala in person, I want to try and learn and soak up as much information as possible on the country as possible and make the most of this awesome experience.

 I am very excited to continue to work and learn about Uganda and other countries in the region, throughout my internship experience. Although I have only been working for a few weeks, I have already learned so much and I am delighted that I will be able to continue this research and growth over the summer.