Call for proposals: French Civil Society Development Fund – Programme Evaluation

With an estimated 354 billion dollars accounting for over 25% of sub-Saharan Africa GDP, as from 2016 South Africa is one of the largest economies in Africa. Significant progress on human development has been made since the beginning of democracy, particularly in terms of reducing extreme poverty (from 11.5% in 1994 to 5% now), access to electricity (available for 83% of households) or housing (76% of households now live in permanent houses). Despite the investments made by the successive governments, the coexistence of high unemployment (25.5% of the labour force, up to 50% among young people) and high inequality (Gini index of 0.7), structural consequences largely inherited from Apartheid, left almost 50% of the black population border on poverty and almost 10.5% of the population living with less than one dollar per day. As growth figures decrease, inequalities rise and after 22 years of democracy, South Africa citizens are still facing strong socio-economic defies.

The fiscal policy enabled the Government to cushion some of the critical needs of the disadvantaged communities through social grants but measures and policies which are designed to be protective do not address the challenges. Citizens are confronted to poor social and administrative services, the rise of unemployment, price increase, the lack of opportunities. As a result, these difficulties have rendered vulnerable group (such as women, children, sexual minorities, migrants and refugees) exposed to more structural, physical and emotional violence.

To overcome these poverty challenges, the civil society sector is a main partner for government alongside with the business sector in mobilising citizen for social change in order to fulfil the fundamental rights of all South Africans and consolidating the democracy. As recommend by the vision 2030 of the National Development Plan, “creative partnerships between, citizen, strong civil society institutions and thriving business” should be at play to support the outcomes and impact the development policies, reducing the fragility of the most vulnerable, reducing poverty and improving the living condition for all and building strong and cohesive communities.

1.2. Overview of the French cooperation
South Africa and France have built, over the last twenty years, a close collaboration to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable development in Southern Africa and the new bilateral France-South Africa Partnership Framework Document for the period 2016-2019 recently signed by the two countries continue to focus on some of the most strategic South African development priorities: to support an integrated, sustainable and inclusive development; to promote a sustainable and resilient environment and address long-term global challenges; to strengthen South African capacities and support job creation.
South Africa and France also strive to promote regional integration and democratic governance. The Embassy of France coordinates the French cooperation system. In South Africa, it includes AFD and its subsidiary Proparco, technical assistants posted in South African institutions and the French Institute of South Africa. The Embassy also implements projects supporting democratic governance through the social development fund as well as scientific, linguistic, and cultural cooperation.

1.3. Overview of the Social development Fund
The Social Fund for Development (FSD) is a special programme of the French Cooperation operating across the French Zone of Priority i.e. a dozen African States. The Social Fund for Development is a co-financing grant that targets small or medium-scale development projects initiated by NGOs or local authorities. The principal objectives of the projects implemented through this development mechanism are sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and the responding to essential community needs as well as fostering democracy by strengthening human rights and gender equality. The aim is also to build capacity, autonomy and accountability among local stakeholders, i.e. regional communities and grassroots civil society organisations, agricultural production associations, neighbourhood associations, women, parents schooling bodies…

1.4. The Civil Society Development Fund in South Africa and the project selection and implementation process
The Embassy of France in South Africa has managed three FSD program from 2001 to present, followed by two evaluations in 2008 and 2011. 

This has offered new directions for the management of the FSD, renamed the Civil Society Development Fund (CSDF) and set broad funding priority sectors: improving local governance, public participation, and promoting human rights. 

For each of her calls for proposal, the French Embassy sets up clear provision for the project selection: Public calls for proposals are issued; templates for concept notes and full proposal are published on the website; submitted proposals or concept note are rated according to selection criteria published on the website; a selection committee, made up of South African government, other donors and French Embassy’s representatives took part in the selection of the projects ; monitoring visits of ongoing funded projects are done; support to organisational development of civil society organisations (CSO) selected is provided.

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