Supporting civil society in DRC

Civil Society Fund (CSF)

CSF was a funding mechanism for good governance initiatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Its overarching aim was to enable civil society organisations to empower citizens and their representatives to monitor and hold government to account. 

The programme was operational from July 2010 to December 2014 and was funded by UK aid and the Swedish Embassy. 

CSF awarded 108 grants worth US$8.7m and built the capacity of civil society organisations across the DRC. 

    Key information

    Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)


    July 2010 - December 2014

    Programme value


    Funded by


    Swedish Embassy

    Our approach

    The key approach was to strengthen the capacity of Congolese civil society to interact with government in order to increase citizens’ input into public decision making. 

    Over the four-year lifespan of the programme, CSF funded 108 initiatives across the following thematic areas: 

    • education
    • health
    • access to basic services
    • gender
    • and mining.

    As well as providing grant support, CSF built the capacity of grantees with training in financial and risk management, ongoing mentoring and opportunities to share experiences, replicable models and lessons learned.

    Achieving lasting change

    The most successful grant partners developed training and awareness-raising materials based on existing Congolese legislation or policies in order to convince both authorities and citizens that lasting citizen input was important to government decision making and policy enforcement.

    The CSF approach demonstrated that civil society monitoring of government performance and citizens’ awareness of their rights are two key elements of effective good governance programming. 

    Citizens who are aware of the law and their rights will know, for example, when to refuse to pay illegally charged taxes.

    - Tito Farias, CSF Programme Director

    Gender justice

    CSF funded 12 projects promoting the rights of women and girls. By challenging entrenched traditions and customs, the programme helped to empower women and champion their rights. 

    Transparency in mining

    In addition, CSF worked with local actors to improve the transparency of the mining sector. Following training, CSOs were empowered to call upon mining organisations to publish the list of legal taxes, reduce or eliminate fraudulent tax collection and enforce existing laws prohibiting the exploitation of children in mining. 

    Participatory budget planning

    CSF funded six projects that gave local people a say in how and where public resources should be spent in the Decentralised Territorial Entities in which they live.  The approaches included the following:

    • Training and awareness-raising of citizens and local government authorities about citizens’ rights and participatory governance
    • Participatory problem idendification
    • Forums to bring government officials and citizens together, allowing citizens to input into decision making and hold government to account, and to provide government with a platform to explain itself and collect feedback. 

    Transparency in local taxation

    Several projects funded by CSF promoted transparency in local taxation. The experiences of these projects showed that the principles of good governance brought together local authorities and local people to reduce corruption and to improve daily life for everyone. 

    Citizen input x accountability = greater tax revenues, strengthened government capacity and citizen satisfaction. 

    Governance within the education system

    With support from CSF, CSOs set up mechanisms for monitoring the education system, increasing information sharing and holding local authorities to account. CSOs worked with a wide range of stakeholders including local authorities, education officials, teachers’ unions, parents’ associations and students. 

    Consortium working

    CSF had a funding stream for consortia of CSOs. This was an experimental approach which sought to capitalise on the synergies and capacities that could be mobilised by consortia to deliver greater impact.


      We all have a part of the responsibility in the consortium. We succeed or we fail together.  
      Kut a Kut
      UNEF, member of the REFEDEF consortium


      The programme resulted in significantly deeper, more frequent interaction between civil society actors and government authorities. 

      • 64,381 men interacted with government officials or parliamentarians at the local and provincial levels. 
      • 43,971 women interacted with government officials or parliamentarians at the local and provincial levels. 
      • 6,159 government officials and legislators interacted with civil society.
      • 77 CSF grant partners created 554 platforms and groups to bring together citizens and state, promoting citizen participation and government accountability. 
      • 1.2 million ctizens benefited from government action responding to citizen demands, including infrastructure and law enforcement actions. 
      • 86 budgets were drafted with citizen participation.
      • 84 decentralised territorial entities benefitted from increased revenue.
      • 208 committees were established or strengthened to monitor conditions in mining sites, manage conflicts or interact with mining companies.
      • CSF grant partner helped improve compliance with conflict-free standards in 36 mining sites in North Kivu, South Kivu and Maniema Province.
      • Education policy monitoring networks were established nationally, mobilising 518 CSOs. 


      A summary report including achievements, lessons learnt and case studies.
      A synthesis of findings from a learning review of donor-funded governance programmes.
      Related work and experience

      Want to know more? If you have any enquiries about our work, please contact us