The Republic of Mauritius, situated in the Indian Ocean, has an area of around 2,040 sq km and a population of nearly 1.2 million. It includes the island of Rodrigues, which has a population of some 36,000 inhabitants, and its own specific socio-economic characteristics, as well as the Agalega Islands with their population of some 300 inhabitants.
CONTEXT OF NON-STATE ACTORS
Mauritius has a long tradition of well-established consultative mechanisms ensuring that there is regular dialogue between the state, civil society and the private sector on important social and economic issues. Key NSAs include umbrella organisations and apex bodies, such as the Mauritius Council of Social Services; entrepreneur and SME organisations, such as the Women Entrepreneurs Council and the Federation of SMEs; the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture, the Federation of Trade Unions and various Trade Union Councils; the Mauritius Employers Federation, and various industry associations, and several religious groupings and associations. There are also advisory and consultative bodies, such as the Joint Economic Council, the National Economic and Social Council, and research and training institutes, including the University of Mauritius and the University of Technology.
Civil society in Mauritius is rich and vibrant. It is also complex and suffers from insufficient capacity. At grass roots level, around 6,000 community-based organisations (CBOs) are registered with the Registrar of Associations, and presumably there are many more that are not formally constituted. There are also an estimated 300 Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs). Although these actors are playing an increasingly important role in national development, efforts to date to empower them have not been particularly successful, and their capacities remain low. They are often fragmented, have weak management structures and limited resources, thus constraining their potential contribution. This situation is compounded by the fact that the legal and regulatory environment for many types of NSA is outdated and not conducive to the role they are expected to perform today.
Widening the circle of opportunities to target the most vulnerable groups holds a significant position in the Government of Mauritius (GoM) policies as indicated by its ten year economic reform programme (2006-2015). Accordingly, the GoM introduced several targeted empowerment and poverty alleviation programmes to empower the disadvantaged and improve accessibility to social services. All these programmes require substantial work at grass-root level by Non State Actors (NSA) in reaching out to the vulnerable communities. One of the significant changes in the Mauritian landscape is an increasing recognition by GoM of the potential roles and contributions that NSAs can play in supporting development and poverty alleviation. However, with a few exceptions, the NSAs have so far faced difficulties to perform as expected.
This Decentralised Cooperation Programme II (DCP II) is the successor of the first Decentralised Cooperation Programme implemented between 2006 and 2010, which aimed at enhancing the capacity of NSAs to deliver projects that have an impact on poor communities' priority concerns related to poverty and access to resources. However, experience has shown that there is still need for NSAs to improve their capacity to manage their organisations and projects effectively.
The purpose of the proposed DCP II is to build capacity for the NGOs to access resources and use them effectively towards their goals of poverty reduction. This is in line the government's four-pillar strategy for NSAs, as developed in 2009. The four pillars comprise :
- building the capacity of NSAs/NGOs;
- resource mobilisation;
- setting up a professional corps of social collaborators (volunteers);and,
- establishing an appropriate monitoring and evaluation system for NSAs/ NGOs in the use of funds and results obtained.
DCP II will therefore add value and complement other emergent and ongoing NSA programmes. DCP II will also complement the social and economic empowerment sector of the EU General Budget Support programmes, which includes indicators on empowerment of vulnerable groups since the start of empowerment programme in 2007.
The overall objective of the 10th EDF Decentralised Cooperation Programme (DCP) II is to contribute to the reduction of poverty in Mauritius and Rodrigues in synergy with other NSAs as well empowerment and poverty alleviation programmes.
More specifically, the programme purpose is :
- to reinforce the capacities of Non State Actors (NSAs) with the aim of improving their strategic planning, implementation and monitoring of poverty alleviation projects;
- to foster a more coherent and informed approach to poverty issues among decision makers and NSAs; and
- complement other ongoing NSA and empowerment & poverty alleviation programmes in their fight to reduce poverty.