WASHINGTON, April 25, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Effective and engaged civil society organizations can help mend the bond between citizens and government, potentially supporting the desire for long-term political stability in Iraq, according to new research from the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps. The study aimed to identify the factors that influence attitudes related to three key good-governance outcomes: political efficacy, perceptions of government responsiveness and legitimacy. Based on findings from a survey of 5,000 people in all 18 Iraqi governorates, the research points to the continued need for democracy and governance programs in Iraq, such as the Broadening Participation through Civil Society (BPCS) program funded by USAID.
"Our research found that people who believe civil society can effectively address issues related to service delivery, corruption and rights are more likely to view government positively. For Iraqi citizens in particular, there appears to be a connection between the ability of civil society organizations to improve communities and the government's willingness to respond to community concerns," says Steve Claborne, Iraq country director for Mercy Corps. "As Iraq prepares for national elections amid new waves of violence, the international community must continue to support programs that build and strengthen civil society organizations."
Mercy Corps began implementation of the three-year BPCS program in Iraq in 2012 in all 18 governorates. Through capacity-building, advocacy and media outreach activities by a consortium of partners, the program aims to boost the effectiveness of civil society actors and enhance civic engagement among citizens.
"The key takeaway from this research is that if development programs can help civil society organizations have greater positive impact on their communities, then these programs can significantly help improve the relationship between citizens and their government," says Claborne. "In Iraq, where trust between citizens and government is tenuous, we believe this work is essential for long-term stability."