Terms of Reference for a Consultancy to Assess the Civic Space in Uganda – September 2021 – September 2022


Civil society space in Uganda is rapidly shrinking. Domestic and international rights organizations report that the Government of Uganda has grown increasingly less tolerant of criticism over the past decade. Freedom of expression across the country is in significant jeopardy, retrogressive laws have been enacted and state institutions have adopted a more ruthless response to civic activists. NGOs that engage in monitoring the conduct of the state and advocate for human rights, women’s rights, in anti-corruption and accountability, land issues and democratic governance have experienced growing restrictions on the space available for them to carry out their activities. The Black Monday movement, for example – a civil society-led campaign in 2012 to protest the theft of public funds by public officials and politicians – was quickly closed down and senior figures arrested.

Independent civil society organizations are being openly threatened and placed under excessive scrutiny by senior government officials. For example, on 1 June, 2019 Uganda’s Minister for Internal Affairs called for increased regulation and supervision of NGOs in response to a civil society report detailing cases of land grabbing in Uganda. He accused the authors of the report – Uganda Land Alliance and Oxfam – of “peddling lies” and urged NGOs to share their reports with the government before releasing them to the public.

Introduction to consultancy assignment

A vibrant, legitimate, and well-informed civil society organizations (CSOs) sector is essential for a healthy democratic system and government. Through the freedom to associate, assemble, and express themselves, citizens can shape the political and social structures that guide their lives. Consequently, it is in the interest of CSO players particularly those who champion transparency, accountability, and civic participation to encourage open civic space where their grantees operate.

Initiatives that support CSOs in Uganda face increasing risks to their integrity and impact. The 21st century saw governments around the world introduce a range of measures restricting the ability of CSOs to operate freely. The trend has encompassed an array of repressive laws, regulations, and practices. These include the imposition of excessive bureaucratic procedures, limitations on foreign funding for CSOs, constraints on freedom of assembly and expression, surveillance, explicit restrictions on nongovernmental organizations’ engagement of certain issues, and barriers to where they can operate. Therefore, CSOs must update their knowledge and approaches to help overcome such challenges.

Reversing the shrinking civic space trend requires a multi-faceted and harmonized approach that prizes trust, efficiency, and local knowledge. There are robust and ongoing conversations on issues affecting civic space, but the wide range of conversations have diluted both the urgency and nuance in figuring out how to ensure civil society actors can and continue to do their work. And compared to what we do know about the shrinking civil space problem, little is known about how individual organizations experience shrinking civic space in different geographic and political contexts, or the practical solutions funders and grantees use to mitigate the effects of this damaging trend.

Following the civic space analysis conducted in 2021, the sub-group intends to conduct an analysis of the prevailing civic space contextual challenges in Uganda. The key product will be a civic space index, which will be benchmarked on the six dimensions including: Freedom of Information and Expression, Rights of Assembly and Association, Citizen Participation, Non-Discrimination and Inclusion, and Human Rights / Rule of Law.

The main objective of this consultancy is to carry out an analysis of the prevailing civic space contextual challenges in Uganda identifying challenges and opportunities for state and non-state actors, develop a civic space index report and an advocacy strategy.

Specific activities the consultant will perform:

  1. Conduct an assessment: The consultant will conduct an assessment of key issues affecting civic space in five (05) regions with in the last one year. The Consultant will work with the participants in order to identify and agree on key issues/themes that should be included in the assessment report.
  2. Conduct a trendy analysis bench marked on last year’s civic space analysis
  3. Conduct a validation workshop: The Consultant will design a one-day long validation workshop in light of study findings.
  4. Reporting: The consultant will provide details report of the Workshop. The report should contain details of the discussion, activities/mechanisms agreed by participants of each region, challenges, and recommendations.
  5. Final civic space index report and advocacy strategy following the recommendations from the assessment

Duration and Deliverables of the Consultancy

The key product will be a civic space index and advocacy strategy, which will be benchmarked on the six dimensions including: Freedom of Information and Expression, Rights of Assembly and Association, Citizen Participation, Non-Discrimination and Inclusion, and Human Rights / Rule of Law. The total duration of this consultancy is one month. Details are described in the table below:

Activity Deliverable Duration Remarks
Conduct a rapid study of key issues affecting civic space in 8 regions within the last one year. Civic space index report 14 days The Consultant will work both physical & online with participant in advance to complete this activity. Partners will share contact information of the participants with the consultant as soon as the contract is signed.
Deliver/Conduct a Training Workshop 1 day validation workshop 1 day The consultant will facilitate a validation meeting to share a first draft of the assessment report
Develop an advocacy strategy Advocacy strategy 5 days The consultant will based on the recommendations from the assessment develop a comprehensive advocacy strategy


Qualification and Skills Required:

  • The applicant should have Master degree from a recognized university in the field of development studies, management, social science or other relevant fields.
  • Minimum of seven years’ relevant experience. Previous experience working with/on civil society, research on Freedom of Information and Expression, Rights of Assembly and Association, Citizen Participation, Non-Discrimination and Inclusion, and Human Rights / Rule of Law.
  • Strong diplomatic skills a high level of cultural sensitivity and familiarity with an international and/or regional work environment.
  • An ability to work in and through networks and alliances
  • An ability to work with diverse actors
  • Fluency in English (written and verbal)

 Consultation Fee:

The consultant cannot sub contract this assignment to any other person or organization. The consultant is required to deliver quality services as per the plan and in close coordination with relevant stakeholders. Please mention your proposed daily consultancy fee for this 20-day assignment in the cover letter, include a financial and technical proposal.

Application Process:

The consultant (s) should send the following information to info@hrdcoalition.ug  by 4pm on the 10/ August 2022 or hand delivered to National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders-Uganda Plot 148, SEMAWATTA ROAD, NTINDA, KAMPALA with Reference; Consultancy NO. FH/2022. (Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted)

  • A brief proposal of no more than 2 page indicating how they will approach the task as outlined and including 2 references – at least 1 of which needs to be an organisation that work has been done for in the last 12 months.
  • At least 1 example of work completed in the last 12 months.
  • A budget for the consultancy which outlines an overall cost and a daily cost.
  • A brief profile/CV of the consultant(s) that will be responsible.

N.B. The winning proposal will be one that indicates an appropriate implementation model that is considerate of the current health situation in Uganda.