Civil society

‘Civil society’ broadly means the groups and organisations which occupy a position between the household, the state and the private sector. They include non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as think tanks, trade unions, faith groups, social movements and community groups.

DFID works with over 200 international and UK civil society organisations and has direct or indirect links with thousands of civil society organisations in developing countries. These organisations range from traditional development NGOs to trade unions, faith groups and social movements.

DFID’s work with civil society is administered via a number of centrally managed funds. These include:

  • The Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF) – supports projects which enhance the role of civil society in the decision-making process.
  • The Development Awareness Fund (DAF) and the Mini Grants Scheme – support activities aimed at promoting public knowledge and understanding of development issues.
  • Partnership Programme Arrangements (PPAs) – provide long-term funding for civil society organisations which share DFID’s strategic objectives.
  • The Conflict and Humanitarian Fund - provides funding to civil society organisations specialising in conflict prevention or resolution and in humanitarian affairs.
  • The Governance and Transparency Fund (GTF) – supports programmes designed to improve accountability and citizen participation in politics.

DFID country offices also work with local civil society and with governments on the inclusion of civil society in decision-making.

When there is a humanitarian crisis, DFID gives support to civil society organisations to help provide emergency relief. In 2007/8 civil society organisations received over £80 million for humanitarian assistance.

Civil society organisations are also involved in DFID’s research work. More information on DFID’s research can be found at Research4Development (R4D).


Last updated: 17 Mar 2009