Five ways Creative supports democracy in Africa
By Evelyn Rupert
September 12, 2019
In vulnerable and post-conflict environments, Creative Associates International is implementing programming that supports credible, participatory, inclusive and peaceful elections, as well as providing voters and governments tools to increase civic engagement and prevent electoral violence.
In recognition of International Democracy Day, Sept. 15, the following are five ways Creative programs support democracy in Africa.
1. Supporting the development of constitutions and legislation
Democratic constitutions and legislation build the foundation for a flourishing democracy. Without these cornerstones, democratic processes can unravel.
Creative-implemented projects under the Libyan Engagement and Governance through Applied Learning program, funded by the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative, assisted the Libyan government throughout the constitutional process to finalize a draft constitution, an important step toward a stable democracy. More recently, a Senior Executive Legal Academy initiative has trained more than 150 Libyan legislators, staff and senior legal advisors on framing, drafting and analyzing legislation and strengthening cross-institutional collaboration.
In Somalia, the USAID Bringing Unity, Integrity, and Legitimacy to Democracy project (BUILD) supports the women’s caucuses in the Somalian parliament to strengthen capacity and leadership and promote gender-sensitive legislation. Following the passage of the landmark Sexual Offenses Bill in Somaliland in 2018, BUILD has been working closely with women leaders and civil society organizations to advance a similar bill at the national level in neighboring Somalia.
2. Promoting credible and accountable democratic processes and practices
USAID’s BUILD project encourages citizen participation in political and electoral processes in Somalia by enhancing civil society and media capacity to disseminate information, strengthening election institutions and other government bodies to administer credible elections, and encouraging political parties to contribute to peaceful and inclusive political and electoral processes.
The Libya Electoral Security Planning and Implementation project (LESPI) puts in place proactive electoral security measures to help rebuild public trust in peaceful, accessible and legitimate electoral processes. The project, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Assistance Coordination in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, also works with security and electoral bodies within the government on mentoring and public outreach.
3. Advancing civil society engagement, civic education and peace messaging
The USAID Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data project (USAID/REWARD) in West Africa has partnered with nearly 50 civil society organizations to advance prevention and mitigation of electoral violence. Grantees in Niger, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Mali have disseminated peace messages, raised awareness of threats to electoral security, promoted the political participation of women and youth, and enhanced media’s capacity for objective reporting.
And in Somalia, BUILD provides ongoing capacity building and training for civil society groups on a range of topics including social media, voter education, journalism and electoral systems and provides small grants for women- and youth-led organizations.
4. Providing early warning and response to violent conflict
USAID/REWARD also seeks to improve the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) response to early warning signs of conflict. The program has conducted a series of country risk and vulnerability assessments, designed to identify each member state’s structural vulnerabilities to conflict, event-driven risks that can trigger conflict, and community-based resiliencies that can help prevent conflict from breaking out. A major success of this initiative has been integrating gender considerations into early warning systems and raising awareness through training.
5. Supporting peaceful elections
Creative’s programming lays the groundwork for peaceful elections by advising governments and electoral groups on potential points of conflict and supporting election observers.
In Libya, LESPI has adapted innovative tools to monitor social media for electoral security incidents, which can provide real-time data on potential threats of electoral violence.
And in West Africa, USAID/REWARD assesses the landscape of threats to electoral security at the national and local levels and partners with civil society organizations to promote more peaceful and credible electoral processes during pivotal elections. These activities have reached more than 10,000 beneficiaries and empowered more than 5,000 women and 5,000 youth to conduct peacebuilding activities around their communities’ and countries’ electoral processes.
Learn more about Creative’s Electoral Education and Integrity Practice Area here.