USAID has published its 2015 Civil Society Organizations (CSO) Sustainability Index for Asia. It reports on the strength and viability of the CSO sectors in seven countries in Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
Two Asian Development Alliance(ADA) and IFP members, CODE-NGO in the Philippines and CCC in Cambodia, prepared the reports in their respective countries.
While overall sustainability levels for all of the assessed countries fall within the Sustainability Evolving category, this fact masks the great variations across the countries in overall sustainability and within the different dimensions of Legal Environment, Organizational Capacity, Financial Viability, Advocacy, Service Provision, Infrastructure and Public Image.
The Index is a useful source of information for local CSOs, governments, donors, academics, and others who want to better understand and monitor key aspects of sustainability in the CSO sector. The CSO Sustainability Index for Asia complements similar publications covering other regions, which include reports on twenty-four countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia, thirty-one countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, seven countries and territories in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan1. These editions of the CSO Sustainability Index bring the total number of countries surveyed to seventy-one.
CODE-NGO reports the Philippine civil society sector’s highest score
The report says that the civil society sector in the Philippines “has the strongest overall sustainability among seven (7) countries participating in the study, followed by Bangladesh. In the Philippines, CSOs benefit from a supportive legal framework that facilitates registration; ability to operate freely; various government grant programs; a variety of mechanisms to engage in policy-making processes; long-established networks that provide training and resources to other CSOs, and positive government perception of CSO work.”
The other countries which participated in the study include Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. All countries are considered in the category “Sustainability Evolving.”
The CSOSI measures the strength and viability of the CSO sector in the following dimensions of sustainability: legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, infrastructure and public image. The rating scale is from 1 (indicating a very advanced civil society sector with a high level of sustainability) to 7 (indicating a fragile, unsustainable civil society sector with a low level of development).
The chart below illustrates the overall rating of the Philippine CSO sector on these dimensions for 2015. Comparing the 2015 ratings below to the previous year, the overall rating on sustainability is maintained at 3.3 (Sustainability Evolving). Ratings slightly improved on Financial Viability, Infrastructure and Public Image, but slightly decreased on Legal Environment because of additional measures to accredit or monitor CSOs and increased harassment of human rights defenders and indigenous people’s groups.
The Philippine civil society sector’s highest score is on the dimension “Infrastructure” at 2.9 (an increase from last year and a movement to the ‘Sustainability Enhanced’ category. This is mainly because of increased coalition building among CSOs and with various sectors – government, business and academe – particularly in the areas of disaster response and in poverty reduction in the light of the Post-2015 development agenda or Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
However, the country’s CSO sector slightly decreased on ‘Legal Environment’ because of additional government measures to accredit or monitor CSOs and increased instances of harassment of human rights defenders and indigenous people’s groups.