Enhancing Civil Society Through QuAM: A Path to Capacity Sharing, Accountability, and Trust

Published By UNNGOF |  June 18, 2024

The Uganda National NGO Forum, and Care International Uganda, under the auspices of Charter for Change, organized a breakfast meeting today, 18th June 2024,  on Locally led Development & the Humanitarian Agenda. This morning session, under the theme “Reimagining QuAM as a Multi-Purpose Vehicle for CSO Sector Health,” brought together diverse stakeholders committed to advancing local leadership and sustainable development in Uganda.

Keynote speaker Dr. Moses Isooba, Executive Director of Uganda National NGO Forum, articulated QuAM’s role succinctly. “QuAM, established in 2006, aims to sanitize and organize the sector. It is a peer assessment tool designed to improve our institutional health.” He highlighted the CAT factors—Capacity Sharing, Accountability, and Trust—as critical for successful localization efforts.

Helen Akwii from the QuAM Council expanded on the transformative potential of QuAM: “This instrument is crucial for the growth and relevance of civil society in our current context.” Her perspective underscored the importance of QuAM in enhancing sector-wide transparency and credibility.

Harnessing QuAM for Sector-wide Impact

QuAM’s evolution from a mere certification tool to a comprehensive mechanism for fostering accountability and legitimacy resonated strongly throughout the discussions. Jennifer Aguti from NAWOU network emphasized: “QuAM presents an opportunity to revitalize regional networks and amplify our national impact.” Agnes Kirabo from Food Rights Alliance added, “QuAM must be a tool that civil society embraces willingly, empowering organizations to showcase their credibility effectively.” This highlight the importance of QuAM becoming integral to organizational strategies, fostering trust, and enabling CSOs to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and good governance in pursuit of community empowerment and sustainable development goals.

International perspectives were also shared by Bruno Rovital from Echo in Uganda, who brought a global viewpoint to the discussion. “As an international humanitarian officer,” Bruno reflected, “I acknowledge the challenges faced in supporting local partners. Trust and understanding are essential in this process.” His insight underscored the complexities of international partnerships, where bridging cultural, logistical, and operational gaps is paramount. Bruno’s acknowledgment of these challenges highlighted the critical need for mutual respect and collaboration between international organizations and local CSOs. Building enduring partnerships founded on trust and shared goals are not only essential for effective project implementation but also for fostering sustainable development and community resilience across diverse global contexts.

Promoting Collaboration and Learning

Tassilo von Droste from CUSP underscored the transformative potential of collaboration within civil society, particularly through initiatives like QuAM. “QuAM can create a common framework and facilitate peer learning within the sector,” Tassilo emphasized. His perspective resonated strongly across the discussions, highlighting the role of cohesive strategies and shared learning in advancing the sector’s effectiveness. By establishing a standardized framework through QuAM, CSOs can harmonize practices, exchange knowledge, and collectively address challenges. This collaborative approach not only enhances organizational efficiency but also promotes a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. Embracing such initiatives ensures that civil society remains adaptive and responsive to evolving community needs, ultimately strengthening its capacity to drive meaningful change and sustainable development outcomes.

Complementary Donor Funding and Sustainable Models

Stakeholders also held crucial discussions surrounding funding models within the civil society sector. Bruno Rovital emphasized the need for clarity, stating, “To fully embrace QuAM, we need clarity on how it aligns with existing audit frameworks and capacity-building initiatives.” This underscored the critical importance of ensuring that QuAM is integrated seamlessly into existing financial frameworks and donor requirements. This alignment is essential not only for operational efficiency but also for fostering long-term sustainability and credibility within the sector. Through this, organizations can enhance their transparency and accountability, thereby strengthening donor confidence and support. Such clarity not only facilitates smoother funding processes but also enables CSOs to focus more effectively on their core mission of driving positive social change and community development initiatives.

Tassilo von Droste from GIZ Uganda also highlighted the potential of QuAM in creating a common framework for peer learning. “QuAM can facilitate mutual understanding within the sector, crucial for both internal coherence and external support from donors.”

A Call to Action

Dr. Moses Isooba concluded with a call to action: “Our aim is not just to meet regulatory standards but to transform relationships into partnerships grounded in shared values and mutual respect.”

The journey towards leveraging QuAM for sectoral health and sustainability in Uganda is well underway. As stakeholders continue to collaborate and innovate, the vision of a vibrant civil society sector, mobilizing citizens and fostering collaboration, appears within reach. QuAM is ready to play a critical role in this transformation, ensuring that civil society organizations are equipped to lead and thrive in the years to come.