Notice of Funding Opportunity: Promoting an Inclusive West Africa

Notice of Funding Opportunity: Promoting an Inclusive West Africa

Project Description

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for a project to address the ethnic marginalization across Coastal West Africa.

The consolidation of power, poor governance, and rise of violent extremism in some Coastal West African countries have contributed to the exclusion and discrimination of certain ethnic groups in politics and everyday life. While certain ethnic groups are not legally excluded from civic and political participation, their full engagement in decision-making roles remains limited. Certain ethnic groups are particularly marginalized in the government, the civil service, and the armed forces.

Some ethnic groups also experience discrimination in employment and access to credit, health care, and education. Hundreds of thousands of individuals, including migrants and rural-based members of society, lack documentation to obtain citizenship or access public resources despite protections under the law.

In addition, certain ethnic groups face societal discrimination, including stigmatization, harassment, and attacks. Militant groups have exploited the marginalization of certain ethnic groups by playing on grievances and amplifying feelings of distrust in government to recruit members. For example, the targeting of Fulbe communities—based on the belief that they all support jihadi insurgents—has perpetuated conflict, facilitated jihadi recruitment, and risks spreading the violence into new areas.

DRL seeks proposals for programming that are ambitious but also targeted and achievable. DRL will consider proposals that address the goal reflected above but include different, though similar and related, objectives. While proposals may include additional objectives, inclusion of additional objectives will not make a proposal more competitive.

Objective 1: ​ Government policies and programs address the needs and vulnerabilities of marginalized ethnic groups.

Government policies and programs—for example those related to land and property ownership and access to education, healthcare, and employment—typically overlook the needs of certain ethnic groups and can lead to their further marginalization in society.

Part of this is due to a general stigmatization of and an undervaluing of the societal contributions made by certain groups. While the constitutions of Benin, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo prohibit discrimination based on ethnicity or religion, certain ethnicities are treated as subordinate, which increases their exposure to social stigmatization, exclusionary practices, and violence.

Approaches to reach this objective could include but are not limited to:

  • Building advocacy networks and/or coalitions;

  • Advocacy by civil society to protect the rights of marginalized ethnic groups;

  • Awareness raising on the rights of all peoples;

  • Outreach to marginalized ethnic groups to increase understanding of needs;

  • Identifying shared reform priorities among citizens, civil society, government, and religious and traditional leaders, and other stakeholders;

  • Developing new policies, reforms, or programs to address the needs of marginalized ethnic groups (e.g., those related to employment, access to credit, health care, and education);

  • Assisting with the implementation of positive policies and programs—such as the obtainment of identity and other official documents, community cohesion activities, youth empowerment—that affect marginalized communities; and

  • Monitoring and increasing awareness about the implementation of reforms and programs and their effects on marginalized populations.

    Objective 2: Members of marginalized ethnic groups occupy more decision-making roles in Coastal West Africa to increase likelihood that government policies and programs protect their human rights

    There are
    few opportunities for members of marginalized ethnic groups to take up positions of influence in government and politics across Coastal West Africa. Without adequate representation in positions of influence, government policies and programs are less likely to meet the needs of all citizens regardless of their ethnicity. Some countries in the region have attempted and recognize the need to increase the ethnic diversity of members that make up government bodies charged with overseeing the implementation of land policies, for example.

    This approach is a good first step to increasing trust among marginalized communities in government’s willingness to consider their concerns. However, without mainstreaming these recruitment practices across all sectors of government, certain ethnic groups will continue to feel excluded and harbor grievances against their leaders and fellow citizens.

    Increasing opportunities for members of marginalized ethnic groups to occupy decision-making roles could also help to alleviate the mistrust that certain ethnicities hold for government due to a long history of exclusion and inaction when acts of discrimination or violence against their communities occur.

    To address these challenges, activities proposed under this objective could include but are not limited to:

  • Outreach to aspiring leaders representing marginalized ethnic groups;

  • Mapping of gaps in and avenues for representation of marginalized ethnic groups;

  • Building leadership skills; and

  • Collaboration with government agencies, political leaders, and other influential groups to increase buy-in and allies supporting for greater representation of marginalized ethnic groups in government, politics, and structures of influence.

  • All programs should aim to have impact that leads to reforms and have the potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources.  DRL’s preference is to avoid duplicating past efforts by supporting new and creative approaches.  This does not exclude from consideration projects that improve upon or expand existing successful projects in a new and complementary way.

    Eligibility Information

    For application information, please see the proposal submission instructions (PSI), updated December 2022 on our website.

    Eligible Applicants

    DRL welcomes applications from U.S.-based and foreign-based non-profit organizations/nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and public international organizations; private, public, or state institutions of higher education; and for-profit organizations or businesses. DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be some occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited.

    Applications submitted by for-profit entities may be subject to additional review following the panel selection process. Additionally, the Department of State prohibits profit to for-profit or commercial organizations under its assistance awards.

    Profit is defined as any amount in excess of allowable direct and indirect costs. The allowability of costs incurred by commercial organizations is determined in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at 48 CFR 30, Cost Accounting Standards Administration, and 48 CFR 31 Contract Cost Principles and Procedures.

    How to Apply

    For more information and job application details, see; Notice of Funding Opportunity: Promoting an Inclusive West Africa

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