2011 CSO Sustainability Index for the Middle East and North Africa


USAID is pleased to present the first edition of the Civil Society Organization (CSO) Sustainability Report for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for Calendar Year 2011. The report relies on local expertise to assess key components of the CSO sectors in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Yemen, as well as in the West Bank and Gaza. The CSO Sustainability Report for 2011 is intended to serve as a useful information source for CSOs, governments, donors, and academics to better understand key aspects of sustainability of the CSO sector.


The Report analyzes seven interrelated dimensions of CSO sustainability: legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, infrastructure, and public image. In each country/territory, a local CSO partner convenes a diverse expert panel of CSO experts and representatives. The country panels discuss and assess the seven dimensions for the year covered, placing each dimension, as well as CSO Sustainability overall, in one of three categories: Sustainability Enhanced, Sustainability Evolving, or Sustainability Impeded. The CSO partners then develop the country reports using desk research and information provided by the expert panel.


Both before and after the historic socio-political changes sweeping across the MENA region, the landscape for CSOs in the seven countries/territories varied considerably, according to the report. CSO sectors had differing levels of capacity to organize, sustain themselves, push for legislative and policy changes, garner public support, and provide services to local communities. CSO sectors in each of the countries/territories in this report faced a number of challenges in 2011.

CSO sustainability in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen was in the Sustainability Impeded category in 2011. In all three countries, the dimensions for organizational capacity, financial viability, and at least one other CSO sustainability dimension, were in the impeded category. CSOs in these countries tend to lack strong management structures and permanent staff, and they have weak links with constituents because CSOs tend to follow their donors’ priorities. They also lack financial viability, although some CSOs in Egypt, and to a much lesser extent in Jordan and Yemen, receive financial support from individual philanthropists and from the corporate social responsibility arms of businesses.

In Iraq and Morocco, overall sustainability was assessed as Sustainability Evolving. While both countries have enabling laws for CSOs, relative to elsewhere in the region, implementation of these laws can be problematic. The CSO sectors in both countries have increased advocacy initiatives in recent years, but the governments have been mostly unresponsive to these campaigns. In 2011, CSOs in these countries did not sufficiently publicize their work in order to generate public support, and they largely did not form networks and coalitions due to competition for funding.

Among the seven countries/territories included in the CSO Sustainability Report for 2011, only Lebanon and West Bank/Gaza were assessed to be in the Sustainability Evolving category for all seven dimensions. In Lebanon, the legal environment allowed for registration that was not unduly burdensome, and it protected CSOs against arbitrary dissolution. In addition, Lebanese CSOs were becoming more effective at advocacy and coalition-building, having developed relationships with the government and private sectors. The CSO sector in Lebanon was considered to be generally effective at delivering services that reflected the needs of constituents. In the West Bank and Gaza, CSOs delivered approximately 90 percent of all social services, contributing to a generally positive public image of the CSO sector.

Map - Sustainability Evolving: Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza. Sustainability Impeded: Egypt, Jordan, Yemen

2011 Report

Complete 2011 Report
Executive Summary
2011 CSO Sustainability Ratings

Individual Country Reports

West Bank - Gaza


Annex A: CSO Sustainability Report Methodology
Annex B: Statistical Data

Last updated: November 29, 2013

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