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These activities are part of a series of dialogues and trainings as a follow-up to the KAS-implemented project "Strenghtening Political Pluralism, Democratic Participation and Representation at Local Government Level". This project involved a series of packages including training, research and reporting about the state of political pluralism and democracy in Arua, Gulu, Masaka, Mbarara, Kasese, Mbale and Soroti.
An assessment conducted as part of the project revealed that a number of hurdles still stand in the way of practicing genuine pluralism and democracy across all the districts. There is need among all political actors in the district to appreciate these challenges and to identify and start to work on ways of mitigating them. The assessment also found out that civil society, a potential key actor in the promotion of democracy, is not playing its role actively in the districts. Besides the capacity issues, some of which were addressed in the project, there was also the finding that CSOs generally shy away from politically sensitive topics, for fear of conflicting with the politicians. The civil society is therefore not very aware of how to work on democracy promotion in a politically sensitive environment. Other capacity gaps that still remain to be addressed on the part of civil society include resource mobilisation, project development and management among others.
The project also resulted in the formation of a network between civil society, media and local councillors in each district, to work jointly on the promotion of democracy. While the project evaluation notes high levels of success in achieving the intended objectives, it also refers to some of the gaps mentioned above as limitations that should still be overcome if local actors are to effectively be able to build democracy.
On the premise of the foregoing, KAS is returning to the districts to conduct two activities: A dialogue with district level actors about the state of political pluralism and democracy through disseminating the findings of the assessment with a discussion that focuses on how the challenges identified can be overcome, and a training workshop for civil society and members of the networks formed to assist them to gain a deeper understanding of democracy promotion strategies in politically sensitive environments and on the approaches to project design, management, resource mobilisation, and reporting.