The 2011 Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4) marked a landmark for a new and a more inclusive arena for civil society engagement worldwide and Tanzania in particular. It provided a new platform for partnership among different stakeholders and explored the possibilities of what may be achieved in a continuing process of dialogue among governments, parliament, private sector, international institutions, development agencies and civil society, as co-equal partners in development.

In Tanzania, CSOs have a legal recognition for they are officially registered and operate at different levels based on their registration status from the community, district, regional, national to international level. CSOs are considered as innovative drivers of change for they play a significant role in social and economic development of the country. The CSO sector in Tanzania has been growing both in terms of number and contribution into socio-economic development.

With the multiple roles that civil society organizations undertake – from service delivery, community organizing, information and education, resource mobilization, monitoring and evaluation, to research and policy advocacy – it is indeed a huge challenge and an enormous pressure to become effective development actors. And civil society acknowledges that these actions for development will only be effective if it brings about sustainable change that addresses the root causes, as well as the symptoms, of poverty, inequality and marginalization.


Istanbul Principles are eight (8) values-based principles guiding CSOs accountability to development effectiveness[1]. They are guidelines which define CSOs development effectiveness in both peaceful and conflict contexts in the Globe. These principles were agreed during the Open Forum Global Assembly for CSOs held in Istanbul, Turkey on 28th -30th September, 2010. Therefore, they are named after the location of the assembly. They guide the work of civil society and the standards for an environment where they can operate most effectively.


TCDD in collaboration with CPDE conducted a review of Istanbul practices in Tanzania which titled as Analysis on CSO Effectiveness in Tanzania and Application on Istanbul Principles” the report which helped TCDD  to convene the Multi stakeholder dialogue at the country level so as to discuss and promote CSO Development Effectiveness in Tanzania.

It is More than 10 years since these principles were endorsed, but slow progress in meeting the commitments made in Busan has been undeniable. Commitments to a human rights-based approach to development, inclusive partnerships and mutual accountability among stakeholders have been side lined, and even violated in different times.  Here in Tanzania we have seen the violation of freedom of expression and suspension of media outlets, we also have seen the amendments of laws governing freedoms of assembly, Freedom of Association and enabling environment for NGOs denied. These steps, among others, prove that the momentum achieved in Busan has not been sustained in most African countries including Tanzania.



  • The Effective Review report and the dialogue TCDD conducted on 24th November 2022, shows that there are many CSOs which have been implementing these principles for a long time even before 2010 when the resolution was made.
  • Tanzania CSOs are working in response to Istanbul Principle 1, on human rights and social justice. These CSOs empower people to find their voice and secure their rights using holistic approaches, including holding governments accountable to respect, protect and fulfill rights for all people.
  • CSOs also work with people to exercise their right to peaceful demonstration and rallies to protect their property and demand social services.
  • However it was advised that, necessary to overcome the tendency of “imposed transparency” to continue strengthening self-regulation and internal transparency exercises and mechanisms of institutions that reinforce democracy and an enabling environment to safeguard institutional actions.


  • Though the Istanbul principles have been implemented by CSOs in their daily programs knowingly and unknowingly, IPs are not well known to most of CSOs in Tanzania. Therefore they requested TCDD to continue to raise awareness on IPs among all CSOs to have better understanding, and to chart ways in integrating these to their programs and projects. Resources need to be allocated in order that awareness raising and information sharing may continue at the national and sub-national levels.
  • There are no clear guidelines on how to integrate Istanbul Principles into practice. There is also a relative lack of donor commitment in support of the implementation of IPs in Tanzania making it harder for CSOs to put the Principles into practice.
  • Most of the CSO works in Tanzania are either still project-based or issue-based, making it hard to integrate all Istanbul Principles into their projects because of the need to fulfill donor requirements, especially as regards outputs and outcomes.


  • Participants requested CPDE in partnership with TCDD continue to raise awareness on IPs among all CSOs to have better understanding in Tanzania. Resources need to be allocated in order that awareness raising and information sharing may continue at the local, national and sub-national levels.
  • During the dialogue with multistakeholder CSO needs to reflect on IPs and make improvement on their implementation
  • Dialogues among CSOs are needed to raise awareness to CSOs and on how best to implement IPs based in Tanzania.
  • Development partners should implement what they have committed to,  and continue to support CSOs at country level in implementing the Principles.


Tanzania Coalition on Debt and Development organized and conducted a multi-stakeholder dialogue at the country level to discuss and promote CSO development effectiveness and enabling environment for civil society in Tanzania. The activity was conducted on 24th November 2022, at Peacock Hotel, Dar es Salaam. The dialogue was able to be attended by 45 participants from CSOs, religious leaders, Medias, and other development partners.


  • Despite the cultural, political, social and economic challenges facing CSOs in Tanzania, the intervention made by CSOs is impactful.
  • CSOs have made substantial contribution into social, economic and environmental development (National Five Year Development Plan III -2021/22 -2025/26, pg.47-49)
  • CSOs are delivering quality social services especially education and health to citizens.


  • The enabling environment for CSOs in Tanzania is mostly provided by the government
  • Enabling environment:-Legal recognition, Political will, Civic space for dialogue and involvement in decision-making, Support for CSOs by national and local government 
  • As of November 2022, The enabling environment in Tanzania has not changed in terms of legal and policy frameworks, but there is political will demonstrated by the sixth phase government under President Samia Suluhu Hassan as opposed to the fifth phase government (2015-2021), for example CSOs are now free to meet and discuss their issues without fear and intimidation from the government, the government officials are free to attend to CSOs events- the President was the Guest of  Honor during the CSO week in 2021, Prime Minister Hon.Kassim Majaliwa during CSO week in 2022


  • Unsatisfactory transparency and accountability within CSOs themselves
  • Shrinking civic space (by the government).
  • Red-tapism-excessive bureaucracy for compliance (e.g. tax compliance, Financial Reporting, Narrative reporting and other legal issues)
  • Dependency on foreign aid (grants) and Change of donor priorities
  • Implementation of Short term projects (1-3 years) which don’t generate the ultimate results (impact).
  • Negative perceptions/mistrust from the government. CSOs are sometimes likened to opposition political parties. In some cases, the demand for them to brand themselves as foreign-funded organizations and disclose the sources of funds they have received.
  • Unsatisfactory capacity (technical skills) for designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating development projects
  • Compromise- some CSOs speak the language of donors. Sometimes CSOs implement project which don’t build on county’s strategies, priorities and objectives  
  • Unfavorable tax regimes in Tanzania especially for those conducting advocacy work in the country.
  • Lack of reliable source of funding
  • Russian and Ukraine war- affected funding to CSOs
  • Questionable integrity- sometimes CSOs just complete the process to satisfy donors.
  • Climate change


  • The government through the National Five Year Development Plan 2021/22-2025/26 recognizes the civil society organizations as essential partner in development endeavors. Therefore, the participants requested the government not to leave CSOs as orphans, to be adopted by the donor community; instead, the government should establish a mechanism of financing civil society organizations in order to promote this partnership in development.
  • CSOs should strive to improve their financial capabilities by considering other alternatives for fundraising like the establishment of business ventures and thus overcome severe dependencies to donors.
  • CSOs should work to improve their internal transparency and accountability within their institution before they advocate to the government.
  • The dialogue identified that; shrinking civic space and limited interaction with formal government structures limit the growth and participation of many CSOs in Tanzania. These organizations are still too easily dismissed in the country because of a lack of strong, effective lobbying networks that can interact with government structures on an equal footing.

Therefore; ongoing efforts needed in Tanzania so as to build CSOs’ capacity to engage the government in a safe and effective manner.