Improving civic watchdog efforts in Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria by increasing understanding in communities about rule of law issues and answering to demands for transparency among citizens.
USAID’s new Central Europe Program aims to strengthen the resilience and capacity of independent civic actors to protect fundamental freedoms. Dexis Consulting Group implements the Central Europe Program Rule of Law Activity (CEP ROLA), whose main objective is to build the watchdog skills of civil society and civic movements to enhance rule of law (ROL) observance, combat corruption, and increase access to justice. Dexis has partnered with the Berlin-based Hertie School and its Recharging Advocacy for Rights in Europe (RARE) network.
Dexis’ goal is to improve civic watchdog efforts in Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria by increasing understanding in communities about Rule of Law (ROL) issues and answering to demands for transparency among the citizens of the target countries. These activities will improve public engagement, encourage debate about ROL issues and further develop civic education about citizens’ rights and responsibilities in their local and national governments.
Dexis plans to support initiatives that engage with the creative sector that are focused on helping general understanding of ROL concepts become more accessible to the public, especially youth.
Part of CEP ROLA’s approach is to develop and implement a robust regional learning agenda that is designed to provide contextual analysis, connect cross-sectoral stakeholders to encourage collaboration, exchange of ideas and strategies for improvement that can be adapted in their own communities.
Dexis aims to provide the following support:
- Institutional sub-grants: support watchdog groups within the Hertie School’s RARE network putting resources towards advocacy efforts, civic education campaigns, monitoring ROL infractions.
- Small scale grant mechanisms: designed to support implementing local ideas, and formal and informal initiatives by testing new approaches and improving public understanding of the necessity to improve ROL.
- Creative sector linkages: tailored technical assistance, e.g., mentorship on strategic communications and creative outreach tactics for local civic actors.
- Regional learning: on-going monitoring, contextual analysis, and close collaboration with local actors to understand critical constraints, define opportunities in each country, and invest in the existing initiatives that have greatest potential impact.
Key principles of our approach include the following:
- Locally led: sub-grants are designed to expand underfunded core work of citizens’ initiatives while further building their regional networking and EU-level advocacy skills. Efforts to improve civic education will include feedback loops that inform what aspects of ROL and anti-corruption matter most to citizens in rapidly evolving political, security, and socioeconomic contexts.
- Socially relevant: prioritizing civic engagement and education making concepts like access to justice, freedom of information, constitutional rights, or subtle mechanisms of recognizing and combating corruption, more accessible to the public through creative advocacy campaigns and in-person smaller-scale actions that respond to the interests of rural communities and underrepresented groups especially youth.
- Experimental yet data-informed strategies: civic education initiatives and that attract co-funding, broadens civic movements, and uses social influencers to engage more citizens in advocacy efforts.
- Information sharing: Dexis develops regular contextual analysis (political economy/national level); collect and analyze available perception data on rule of law (sectoral level) and provide institutional diagnosis (CSOs) to measure program delivery and provide timely analysis for its stakeholders