Lebanon, Promoting Active Citizen Engagement (PACE)
PACE supports the non-partisan NGOs that act as the voice of citizens, especially youth, women, minorities and persons with disabilities who are usually left out of the public discourse.
MSI’s USAID-funded Promoting Active Citizen Engagement (PACE) project increases Lebanese civil society’s ability to act as a catalyst for change.
The project works to ensure that public policies become more responsive to citizens’ concerns. Lebanon’s political landscape is polarized; citizens are often disillusioned with a political elite that has become out of touch with their daily concerns. However, citizens still maintain a high level of trust in the effectiveness of civil society.
The project focuses on the strategic use of traditional and on-line media to publicize citizen concerns. It actively uses social media, including a Facebook page and Twitter account, to reach out to civil society, highlight the accomplishments of its partners, disseminate good practices and encourage dialogue between NGOs. Civic actors are also trained and encouraged to utilize social media as a tool for citizen journalism, mobilization and advocacy.
PACE’s grant program promotes social entrepreneurship and capacity building to address citizen concerns and as a model to assist NGOs in becoming more sustainable. The grants provide funds to civil society initiatives around issue-based civic advocacy, activism, and citizen active participation. The competitive grant process is open to civil society organizations nationwide that are identified as non-partisan organizations.
Through nation-wide consultations, two partners of PACE are developing policy briefs on corruption, youth unemployment, quality of public services, sectarian tensions, and public participation in decision-making. These reports will be circulated widely to civic actors to inform their advocacy and to facilitate joint actions through local or national platforms.
The project experts are working to design policies that reflect citizen concerns. PACE plans to collect data through public opinion polls in an effort to gain insight into the values and belief of citizens and their perception of life in Lebanon. An initial opinion survey identified people’s main issues and confirmed that citizens from different religious or political backgrounds tend to share common priorities.