Civil society actors should adapt their means of pressure, create cooperatives to improve their development impact, and build and consolidate networks and consensus to be able to act as a unified force capable of influencing government policies and weathering periods of repression, says the Arab Reform Initiative in a new report.
The report, titled Civil Society and Public Policy Formation: Strategies from Morocco and Egypt, concludes a year of research carried out by the Arab Reform Initiative and its associated researchers and partners as part of its project on Economic and Social Policy Formation. Funded by the International Development Research Centre, the project seeks to empower advocacy groups and civil society actors in Egypt by drawing lessons from the Moroccan experience of national and parallel civil society dialogues in the formation of public policies and legislation.
The report brings together the various research and dialogue activities of the project and gives insight into how Egyptian and Moroccan civil society sets the social and economic agenda in the education and housing sectors through the presentation of six papers.
In the first paper, Sarah Anne Rennick and Nafissa El Souri introduce the two distinct consultative processes in Morocco and offer important lessons learnt regarding how to build more inclusive processes and take more decisive steps towards participatory democracy.
The second paper by Reem Abdelhaliem surveys the Egyptian government’s current housing policies and how they failed to address the issue of “adequate housing,” focusing instead on building new and mostly uninhabited units. Omnia Khalil argues, in the third paper, that the housing sector’s public budget is poor and unequally distributed, and urges more emphasis be placed on the existing housing structures and community-based approaches where civil society has a key role to play.
In the fourth paper, Hania Sobhy highlights the poor quality of public education in Egypt and how teachers, parents and students, and small organizations have mobilized around key issues of reform. Mapping the various contributions of civil society in education in Egypt, Nayera Adel Rahman presents, in the fifth paper, an example of how civil society actors have filled gaps in the quality of education and encouraged the withdrawal of the state from the provision of some services.
In the final paper, Sarah Anne Rennick and Nafissa El Souri present key conclusions drawn from presentations and discussions during a two-day policy dialogue that took place in May 2017. They set out strategies to help civil society actors increase their impact as key players in public policy formation.