FODAG and its partners work to ensure that government institutions subscribe to democracy are accountable to its citizens and that citizens are empowered and can freely participate in the political processes in South Sudan. Through programs that support citizen participation, political Inclusion of marginalized groups, civil society organizations capacity strengthening, Dialogues and Debates around key political processes, and support to Elections and Electoral processes, FODAG hopes to build the momentum for an all-inclusive democratic process for citizens in the country. For how these programs are conducted please refer to the themes below.
Strong democratic institutions are only possible with citizens who are well informed and can actively participate in voicing their concerns in a manner that demonstrate collective desire for change. FODAG recognizes that having politically detached and less informed citizens could be a recipe for manipulation by the political elites and can only help to aid rent seeking behavior, promotes corruption and undermine transparency and accountability.
Civic Education on key political processes including the ongoing peace process: Through funding from the National Empowerment for Democracy (NED) FODAG has provided information on the peace process to citizens across rural part of South Sudan. Recognizing the existing gap between citizens and negotiators of peace in Addis, the organization ensures that the peace negotiation processes are openly and transparently shared and that citizens are given adequate information to support their contribution to the peace process. Cognizant of the illiteracy rates in the country, FODAG developed a simplified manual containing the key agreements signed in Addis-Ababa and using local languages organizes public dialogues to share the information as well as gather citizen’s views on how peace could be achieved and sustained in South Sudan. The organization is currently leading similar activities to support the dissemination of the signed Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan.
Media and citizen participation: FODAG works with media houses to help capture and elevate the voices of the most vulnerable groups in South Sudan. Throughout our civic education activities, FODAG works with selected Journalist and media houses to organize dialogues and discussions around key national issues including on the ongoing peace, capture citizen’s voices and develop radio episodes that are eventually broadcasted across South Sudan. In using the media, FODAG provides citizens the opportunity to speak with their leaders, share their stories on the impact of the conflict, and galvanize their fellow citizens to demand for an end to the conflict.
County Engagement Forums: County engagement forums are like community meetings where members of the community/county interact with their local government authorities (Commissioners, Executive Directors, members of the county council and Payam Administrators) to discuss and forge a common agenda to solve shared community issues. FODAG works with local CSOs to enlighten citizens on their rights and responsibilities, help citizens identify shared community issues and organize for platform where citizens meet their leaders to discuss and find solution to local problems. The citizen engagement forums have helped resolved issues of water in communities across South Sudan, broken bridges that impact on local trade, insecurity and land dispute among other achievement. Country engagement forums are critical in not only building collective action around shared community issues but also reinforce citizens’knowledge on issues of governance, development and accountability.
Constituency Dialogues (CDs):These are similar to the County Engagement Forums except the interaction is between citizens and their elected representatives. While much of the discussions could dwell on issues facing the constituency, CDs could also be used for discussing and updating citizens on national political processes. It is a two-way communication approach. Elected representatives educate citizens and share information with the constituencies then constituents voice their concerns about local issues, raise questions directly to members of the Assembly in an orderly and sober manner, discuss and develop possible solutions and work for resolution of the problems. The elected representatives respond to the concerns and take follow-up actions to resolve the concerns of their constituents.
FODAG through support from USAID funded Democracy International train and work with local civil society organizations in Western Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazel to engage State Assembly members on the need to participate and help respond to citizen’s needs in their various constituents. The CSOs also works with selected Assembly committees and depending on the need and issues raised in the forums lobby the government and or the executive to respond to the citizens demands.
With the signing of the agreement, CDs have become important in promoting open discussion on issues of reconciliation, healing and accountability. FODAG shall work with other partners in peace and share information that might arise during the constituency dialogues.
Strengthening the capacity of local CSOs for effective Advocacy
FODAG provides training and mentorship to local CSOs and volunteers to enhance the quality of their work. Our training package is carefully designed to support CSOs work in post conflict environment as well as shrinking civic space like in South Sudan. FODAG focuses on the importance of understanding both local and international legal provisions that support the work of CSOs, building alliances and network within and outside the country and how to work with government institutions without necessarily losing focus and or impartiality. We also train CSOs in areas of advocacy and lobbying. FODAG is a member of the East African civil society network and the world movement for democracy both of which are instrumental in supporting the participation of civil society and Activists in advancing issues of democracy, human rights and Development across the world.
Political Inclusion of Vulnerable Groups including Persons with Disabilities
Political inclusion of vulnerable groups is one of the core programs of FODAG and this explains why their inclusion is both a priority within the wider context of citizen’s participation as well as a special focus based on the nature and type of vulnerability. Through support and collaborations from African Union-Governance Architecture and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). FODAG would identify group of women and young people to benefit from trainings that enhance their participation and leadership especially in political parties in South Sudan. The training would help reinforce issues of democracy, transitions within political parties and fundamentals of running for office. Please join us in advancing democracy through women and youths in South Sudan.
This program adds to the already running initiative that FODAG does to encourage the political participation of persons with disabilities. With more than 50,000 persons with disabilities across South Sudan, FODAG provides trainings around best regional and international practices to support persons with disabilities, encourages debates on how such groups could participate in shaping the future of South Sudan and advocate on the need for disabled friendly laws and policies. FODAG would continue to support persons with disabilities and demand for their full participation during the review of key laws including the transitional constitution and the National Election Act. FODAG acknowledges that the right to participate is not only a fundamental human right but also a fulfillment of civic responsibility of every citizen including the person with disability.
Election and Electoral processes:
With immense experience in supporting elections and electoral processes in South Sudan, FODAG shall continue to engage citizens in ensuring that there are effective and acceptable electoral laws and practices in place which are adhered to by all stakeholders to rekindle citizen’s confidence and participation in the electoral process especially after the transitional period. FODAG recognizes that there are still gaps to be filled regarding the electoral laws and processes in South Sudan and that there should be need to ensure that any other existing laws including future laws should not be unfairly exploited to undermine and reduce the quality of democratic and accountable governance. FODAG hopes that the review process for both the National Election Act and the transitional constitution shall take into account genuine participation of all citizens in the country.