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Towards Solidarity: Introducing the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund

14 November 2023 Towards Solidarity: Introducing the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund

What does it look like to fund based on the values of transparency, flexibility and solidarity? We co-launched the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund with Yemeni civil society to find out if new, transformative models of funding are possible. Learn about how the fund worked for civil society from Adel, Mathar, Akram Al-Hussein, Youssef and Adel in our third equitable partnerships blog

Saferworld works with Yemeni civil society to enhance their role as independent peacebuilders. We launched the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund in 2019 to provide grants of up to USD$45,000. So far, the fund has supported 18 organisations, selected through a peer review process. Explore the graphic below to understand our four core values and six selection stages. 

A graphic showing the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund process

What Yemeni civil society had to say about the fund 

*Submissions have been translated from Arabic and edited for clarity and length 

Adel Abdullah Qaed Dahan, Executive Director, Basmat Hayat for People with Disabilities 

“We’d never received funding that was this flexible before – many doors opened for us”.

Our vision is the comprehensive integration of people with disabilities into society. Our staff and management are all individuals with disabilities. Through the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund, we delivered ten interventions to enhance the role of people with disabilities in peacebuilding and good governance. We’d never received funding that was this flexible before – many doors opened for us. 

Our organisation gained good recognition and received excellent feedback from our audience and from people with disabilities. Also, the team’s financial and admin performance improved. The training we received strengthened our team’s skills in proposal writing, budgeting and financial reconciliation, and our understanding of good governance. 

Donors could improve funding to Yemeni civil society by giving us the opportunity to assess needs and by giving us flexible funding that allows us to meet the community’s needs as well as our own. Donors can help strengthen our skills and support us until we become self-reliant and capable of raising funds. There are small civil society organisations that possess untapped potential and significant capabilities in conducting needs assessments and doing fieldwork. However, these organisations don’t have access to donors because of their weak organisational criteria. We need donors to collaborate with us, provide flexible multi-year funding, and create opportunities for us to meet with them.
 
Al-Hussein Ali Solan, Executive Director of Musaala for Human Rights, and Youssef Hazeb, Director of the National Organsiation of Yemeni Reporters (Sada) (the organisations co-applied to the fund for one grant) 

“One of the most exciting things about the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund was its commitment to enhancing peace, justice and human rights in Yemen.”

At Musaala and Sada our desire is to see a democratic, free and safe Yemeni society that respects human rights and basic freedoms. We took part in the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund through our project ‘Support for strengthening community peace’, which aims to build trust and strengthen relationships between security forces and journalists, civil society organisations and human rights defenders in Marib governorate. Our taking part improved conditions for media, legal and civil work in Marib, and it also reduced harassment. 

The fund gave us the opportunity to build strategic partnerships with security forces and other civil society organisations. This experience resulted in establishing coordination, collaboration and joint work between Musaala and Sada. This in turn enhanced our role in serving our community. 

We noticed several positive changes in our organisations since the start of our participation in the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund. Firstly, we were able to implement a project as partners – the principle of partnership was implemented successfully. We invested the funding in developing our internal capabilities, including developing internal procedures and policies, as well as purchasing digital accounting software. Secondly, we were able to build strategic relationships with security forces and other organisations. Thirdly, we were able to reach more people and provide them with better services. The funding we received helped us expand the scope of our work and provide our services to more people in need.   

One of the most exciting things about the fund was its commitment to enhancing peace, justice and human rights in Yemen. The fund provided financial, technical and logistical support to civil society working to achieve these goals. At Musaala and Sada, we are grateful to the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund for its support. We believe its work is necessary to enhance peace, justice and human rights in Yemen. 
 
Mathar Abel Jabbar Abel Razaq Fayed, Executive Director of Assistance for Response and Development (Al-Awon) 

“Continuous funding that ensures the sustainability of civil society work and empowers organisations to become self-sufficient in the future will serve as a strong incentive for civil society to continue their work.” 

Our foundation works to improve livelihoods and services at the individual and community levels in Taiz. Through this funding, we developed a project to address the urgent needs of young people in juvenile detention. We provided comprehensive humanitarian assistance to two detention centres in various sectors – education, health, food, shelter, mental health, water, sanitation, protection and security. 

One of the good things about the Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund was that we were able to choose our project and weren’t limited to a specific sector. This enabled us to identify and respond to extremely critical needs of a group that wasn’t supported by others before. This opportunity also allowed us to engage and network with other civil society organisations, and to coordinate our efforts to provide the best possible assistance. We noticed an overall improvement in the quality of our foundation’s work and reporting. If donors provide continuous funding that ensures the sustainability of civil society organisation’s work and empowers them to become self-sufficient in the future, it will serve as a strong incentive for civil society to continue their work.
 
Akram Abdo Ali al-Sharaab, Director of al-Nahda Youth Organization

“Muhamasheen youth now have experience in monitoring and documenting cases of violence throughout their communities. They also have a broad understanding of how to conduct advocacy campaigns.” 

We work to improve the situation of the Muhamasheen [a marginalised group] and other vulnerable groups in Yemeni society, and to protect them from all forms of violence, marginalisation, exclusion, deprivation and racial discrimination. Our work mainly targets Muhamasheen youth and women. We used the funding to serve these marginalised groups, including by holding training workshops for youth and women. 

The proposal evaluation and selection criteria through the various stages, whether conducted by Saferworld or peers, was outstanding. The process strengthened the capacity of the applying organisations and gave them a broader understanding through reading their peers’ proposals. The fund played an effective role in bringing civil society together and facilitating networking between us through the peer evaluation process, joint training workshops and meetings. 

As a result of the funding, our organisation now has office equipment and furniture, a website that facilitates communication, an electronic finance system, and a large office that protects the privacy of the women working at the organisation. Muhamasheen youth now have experience in monitoring and documenting cases of violence throughout their communities. They also have a broad understanding of how to conduct advocacy campaigns for issues that affect Muhamasheen communities, and a basic understanding of formulating ideas and drafting projects. This is a great asset for the Muhamsheen communities.
 
Abdel Karim Saif Mohamad Ali al-Saalmi, Executive Director of Al-Wed Foundation for Development 

“Yemeni society is eager for peace and wants to end the conflict and the war. We want all donors to know that Yemeni society wants to help them end the war.” 

We work in Taiz, where we strive to contribute to peacebuilding, supporting development and advocating for human rights. Through the fund we ran our project, ‘Education for Peace’, which addressed low literacy and numeracy skills among primary school students in 15 schools across Taiz governorate – areas directly affected by the war. 

Previously, most donors and international NGOs provided limited funding with challenging application processes, and most funding is constrained by prohibitive conditions and often involves favouritism and lack of transparency in the selection of partners. The Yemen Civil Society Solidarity Fund provided flexible funding opportunities to Yemeni civil society to implement projects based on their existing capabilities and their own visions.  

The project constituted a glimmer of hope for teachers. Teachers are desperate and depressed due to the worsening economic situation. Their salaries are not enough to cover the basic requirements of a dignified life. This project raised morale and created an educational movement in the target schools. There are several great success stories where several students were able to read well after the project. 

Yemeni society is eager for peace and wants to end the conflict and the war. We want all donors to know that Yemeni society wants to help them end the war. We want them to know that Yemeni society supports them towards achieving comprehensive development while empowering civil society organisations to provide their services effectively.

Read more about our work in Yemen

Read the first and second blogs in our blog series on equitable partnerships

Illustration: Tinuke Fagborun

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