For more than 20 years, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has conducted programs to activate and empower citizens and civic groups, has established strong civic cultures, and has achieved an appropriate balance of power between citizens and government.
The NDI works throughout the world creating safe spaces for citizens to learn, train and engage on important local issues. For example, NDI has created the Civic Forum (CF) in Haiti based on NDI’s Citizen’s Guide: From Civic Education to Civic Action, a civic education resource in Haitian Creole. As a result, CF trains tens of thousands of Haitians to apply organizing principles to form community action groups managed by local citizen initiatives.
Regardless of perceived obstacles, NDI continues to fund democratic initiatives around the world. Recently, USAID pledged $300 million to expand women’s rights in Afghanistan. Some of the programming around this new commitment is surely to be led by organizations like NDI, who lead the way in democratic gender equality and participation.
By initiating training programs to increase the dialogue surrounding active citizenry, NDI continually improves local level participation. As a result of citizen-managed programs, individuals gain various organizing skills including conversational and public speaking, building consensus around an issue, and bargaining for improved services. Critical to capacity building, NDI projects conduct forums to discuss citizen interaction, trainings to explain the necessary steps of communal action, and awareness campaigns to raise the profile of citizen participation. While training manuals help to build context, the projects’ community action component remains the most essential programmatic tool.
Click here to read about how NDI, along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), successfully organized a live televised town hall meeting in Yemen, enabling citizens to publicly question government leaders for the first time.