USAID awards Pact, IREX and partners two major awards to strengthen civil society and media for inclusive, representative democratic societies

September 15, 2021
In Somalia, radio call-in shows are important for raising awareness about discrimination against women with disabilities, among other topics. Photo Credit: Pact

USAID has chosen Pact, along with IREX and our consortium partners, to lead two new regional programs, each titled Civil Society and Media – Strengthened Together and Advancing in New Directions (CSM-STAND). With one award focused on Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the other covering Asia, Europe and Eurasia, and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), these twin programs will achieve a global reach and partner with civic and media actors around the world. The CSM-STAND programs, with a combined funding ceiling of $452 million, will foster innovative design and implementation of civil society and media programming, while partnering with local change agents to foster global learning.

Thriving, empowered civil society and media are key pillars of democratic governance. Yet in many countries, declining social trust, shrinking civic space and polluted information ecosystems undermine the ability of civil society and media to function and serve the people they are intended to represent and inform. Despite important examples of progress, global indices such as Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report attest to the fact that democratic backsliding remains a global trend and too many countries are marked by authoritarian governance, erosions of basic freedoms and restrictions on independent media.

Even within the most restrictive environments, dedicated civic and media activists work to serve and inform their constituencies, sometimes at great risk. Through CSM-STAND, Pact, IREX and our partners will work closely with USAID Missions, Regional Bureaus and Independent Offices to leverage and strengthen civil society and media’s capacities to credibly represent citizen interests and hold governments accountable through advocacy, oversight and outreach. We will catalyze local, regional and cross-regional approaches that foster independent civic forces, enhance civic engagement, and build vibrant, resilient and sustainable civil society and media sectors.

Our consortiums include talented global, regional and technical partners with proven expertise and commitment to strengthening civil society and media. In addition to IREX, our global partners include the Aga Khan Foundation, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law and The Asia Foundation. In Africa and MENA, our regional partners are AfriLabs, Arab Network for Civic Education, Samir Kassir Foundation, Sonke Gender Justice and West Africa Civil Society Institute. In Asia, Europe and Eurasia, and LAC, our regional partners are European Journalism Centre, MAKAIA, Prague Civil Society Centre, FORUM-ASIA, Fundación Gabo. Across both projects, we’ve assembled an innovative team of technical partners including Moonshot CVE, Omdena and TechSoup.

“We are thrilled to lead this partnership with USAID, IREX and our consortium partners,” said Caroline Anstey, Pact’s President & CEO. “By joining our evidence-based, 50-year history of developing the capacity of local organizations with the vast expertise of our partners, we believe CSM-STAND will play an important role in advancing democracy, human rights and good governance in countries across the world.”