CSO Sustainability Index
Amidst the rapid progress of globalization in the 21st century, roles and responsibility of civil society sector have evolved as well. Consequently, the United States Agency for International Development or USAID conducts an annual report on Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index (CSOSI) to study on characteristics, opportunity, challenge and development pattern of civil society sector in each member country. The first report was published in 1997 covering developing countries in Europe and Eurasia, before spreading to other regions such as Africa, Middle East and Asia.
People’s Empowerment Foundation was honored to write the 2017 report on CSOSI for Thailand, under the great support from USAID and technical advice of FHI360. We began our process by arranging a consultation meeting with representatives of civil society organizations and related specialists, both national and international, working on at least 8 different issues. In the meeting, specific information and opinions were exchanged among the participants, and the performance of Thai CSO was evaluated. The assessment was sub-categorized into seven issues, namely; (1) legal environment, (2) organizational capacity, (3) financial viability, (4) advocacy, (5) service provision, (6) sectoral infrastructure and lastly (7) public image. After each subcategory was evaluated (from 1 to 7, with 1 equates sustainability enhanced and 7 means sustainability impeded), the overall CSO sustainability would be calculated.
In 2017, although the score band is not significantly different from the previous year, the legal and political landscape of Thailand was not favorable to democracy with civil participation. This current condition has posed great challenges to the development of civil society sector. On the other hand, a lack of financial sustainability is still threatening the performance of CSOs. Some success stories can, however, be seen in 2017 for instance, the construction plan of coal-fired power plant in Thepa district, Songkhla province has been halted due to protests and pressure posed by people network and general public, questioning the possible impact on surrounding environment and lives of the people in the area.