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NGO Conference and Expo 2006
From 31 May - 2 June 2006 non-governmental, community and church based organisations from all over the country met in Harare to exhibit their work and demonstrate the important role of civil society in development. MS Zimbabwe and its partners enjoyed the event, which also contains a three days conference on NGOs and poverty eradication.
NANGO (National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in Zimbabwe) has once more set the stage for civic organisations to meet and showcase their work to the public. After a break last year, NANGO revived the NGO Expo, which had become an annual event since it was initiated first time in 2002.
The expo to attracted more than 100 organisations from across the country, comprising a mixture of civic organisations engaged in various fields of work including HIV and Aids, human rights, debt and trade, health, nutrition, farming, environment, etc.
Participants argued that one of the main attractions of the expo is, that it provides an important platform for networking opportunities and that organisations use this chance to learn from each other and share best practices.
MS Zimbabwe Partners at NGO Expo 2006
This year NANGO secured a more central venue for the expo, i.e. Harare Gardens near the National Gallery. Participants highly applaud this move as the previous venue, Harare Show Grounds, is located a bit out of town and was seen as the main reason for the limited number of visitors.
The Harare Gardens are likely to attract the public in great numbers hence the expo is likely to achieve its main objective, i.e. to interact with the public and show case the value and importance of the work of civil society.
However, NANGO and its members are still left with the challenge to decentralise the expo to other major towns and growth points in Zimbabwe in order to raise awareness locally and facilitate the participation of NGOs who can not afford to travel to Harare.
The role civil society
Besides networking and showcasing the activities of NGOs, the overall aim of the expo is to sensitise government and the public on the important role that civil society plays in development. Especially at times when a restrictive legislative environment threatens to limit the work of NGOs through laws such as POSA (Public Order and Security Act) and the pending NGO bill.
There is a need for NGOs to fight the negative image portrayed by such pieces of legislation and to show the public the value of their work. Today NGOs have taken over great parts of common social services that were previously cared for by government.
When it comes to food security, schooling and education, health, HIV and Aids NGOs have stepped in to assist poor and marginalized communities as public authorities struggle to give the needed support. The present economic crisis has increased the poverty and suffering of people and without the help from civic organisations many people would be left desperate.
With a view to strengthen the role of civil society NANGO this year organised a parallel NGO conference where all stakeholders could met and discuss the present challenges faced by civic society organisation in Zimbabwe and a way forward.
The conference was running simultaneously with the Expo at the Crown Plaza Hotel just next to Harare Gardens. The aim of the conference is to debate the present working environment for NGOs in Zimbabwe and to discuss the poverty situation and how best civic society can assist the affected communities.
For more information please contact NANGO: firstname.lastname@example.org