The Consultative Group (CG) meeting held in Tanzania in September was criticized by Tanzanian civil society organizations (CSOs) for failing adequately to involve citizens. CGs are meetings attended by senior government officials from an aid-receiving country and by high-level representatives from multilateral and bilateral aid agencies active in that country. The World Bank is usually responsible for convening, preparing background materials for, and chairing CGs. Tanzanian groups described the meetings in which CSOs were allowed to participate as “tokenistic”, demonstrating “a lack of genuine commitment to broad consultation.”
“Because the people of Tanzania – and particularly those who are impoverished – are at the heart of development policies and programmes, the meaningful involvement of civil society in the CG process is indispensable”, noted a statement. “The issues under review have not been subject to a broad public debate. Nor is there evidence that the deliberations are adequately informed of the perspectives of the large majority of Tanzanians.”
The CSOs were critical that too little notice had been given about the meeting and its purpose and processes. 28 Tanzanian NGOs and seven international NGOs signed the statement which recommended that:
- a clear plan be developed for timely information dissemination to enable engagement with the broader public on key CG issues, and for CSOs to undertake analysis, develop its positions and democratically elect its representatives to the future meetings;
- information about CG and other government reform processes ought to be widely available in accessible formats;
- prior to the formal CG meetings, an institutionalized, formal space needs to be created for civil society to make presentations to the government and donor community on key development concerns, including overall macro policy and fiscal arrangements.
Democratically elected CSO representatives ought to be provided with the opportunity to monitor formal CG meetings to ensure civil society positions are accorded serious consideration.