Ford Foundation Launches First Global South Network to Strengthen the Digital Resilience of Civil Society

Announcement |

With $15 million in seed funding, the Global Network for Social Justice and Digital Resilience supports 10 Global South-led organizations that provide technical support to civil society in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Kyoto, Japan (October 10, 2023) – Today, the Ford Foundation announced the launch of the Global Network for Social Justice and Digital Resilience, a first-of-its-kind initiative that aims to increase the technical capacities of civil society organizations across the Global South. 

With $15 million in seed funding, the mission of the Digital Resilience Network is to ensure frontline organizations across the Global South can better leverage the benefits of technology while minimizing its harms, which can include online surveillance, censorship, and misinformation. The Digital Resilience Network is managed by an independent board. 

This initiative supports an initial cohort of 10 organizations that provide technical support to civil society organizations in the Global South. These groups are predominantly based in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, where the harms and uneven benefits of technology are most pronounced. 

Over the past decade, technologies have grown increasingly sophisticated in restricting, excluding, and intimidating the work of social justice communities in the Global South, including those advancing gender and environmental justice. From escalating uses of spyware that targets human rights defenders to widespread misinformation campaigns and internet shutdowns, online tactics have been weaponized to increase polarization, compromise elections, and undermine democratic processes.

Groups offering technical support and consultation to civil society are limited and have long been concentrated in the Global North. Civil society in the Global South lacks access to in-region technical experts who can answer the growing needs and demands of frontline social justice organizations in their local and cultural contexts. 

The Digital Resilience Network, launched at a side event at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum, addresses these field-wide issues by supporting a cohort of Global South-based technical support organizations who will network, accelerate learning, and transfer technical capacities and knowledge to frontline civil society organizations, where the greatest needs and threats related to technology exist. The Network incorporates equality, inclusion, diversity, and feminist values into its processes. It aims to:

  • Increase domestic and regional tech capacity among social justice organizations in the Global South
  • Diversify the field of technologists to include more leaders who are women, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming, are people of color, and are from communities of color
  • Foster South-to-South peer learning among organizations working to strengthen digital infrastructure and resilience
  • Increase global strategic collaboration among social justice and technology organizations
  • Increase funds supporting the strengthening of digital resilience for social justice organizations

“The Global Network for Social Justice and Digital Resilience is a critical tool to advance social equity and counter the digitally-driven democratic backslide across the Global South,” said Alberto Cerda Silva, program officer of Ford Foundation’s Technology and Society program. “Whether it’s confronting malicious software that targets civil society or building avenues for social justice communities to leverage the benefits of technology, in-region technical support is key. This initiative brings to life the thesis that those closest to the challenge are closest to the solution. We hope this project serves as a model for philanthropy going forward.” 

Network members have spent years at the leading edge of digital resilience but have lacked the resources needed to address the manifold digital threats that civil society faces. The work of these groups has ranged from conducting threat intelligence to providing security support including digital, legal, and physical elements; from equipping disconnected communities with autonomous infrastructures to  advancing digital inclusion for people with disabilities.

“It’s impossible to overstate the need for a digital resilience network focused on the Global South,” said Ashnah Kalemera, program manager for the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa. “It promotes South-to-South peer learning and a chance to share experiences from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. The opportunity to share knowledge about opportunities and challenges excites us the most. We are grateful to have the chance to learn, reflect, and adapt with sister organizations.” 

The initial cohort supported by the Digital Resilience Network are Núcleo de Pesquizas, Estudios y Formación (Brazil)the Citizen Lab (Canada)Derechos Digitales (Chile)Fundación Acceso (Costa Rica)The Engine Room (Global)Centre for Internet & Society (India)Social Media Exchange (Lebanon)SocialTIC (Mexico)Co-Creation Hub (Nigeria), and Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (Uganda).

“Digital resilience holds equity at its core,” said Paola Mosso, co-deputy director of The Engine Room. “It points to the ability of organizations to design digital ecosystems where everyone can participate in meaningful ways by keeping infrastructures human and environment-centered, safe, and adaptable to ever-changing contexts.”

This article was first posted by the Global Network for Social Justice and Digital Resilience on Oct 10, 2023

Job Opportunity: Monitoring and Evaluation Officer

Announcement |

We are searching for the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer (M&E Officer) will carry out monitoring and evaluation activities including data collection and reporting on project outcomes.

See below for further details;

Job Description

Position: Monitoring and Evaluation Officer

Organisation: Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)

Location: Kampala, Uganda

Duration: Two (2) years Full time- renewable

Reports to: Programme Manager

About Us: Established in 2004, CIPESA is a leading centre for research and analysis of information aimed to enable policy makers in the region to understand ICT policy issues, and for various multi-stakeholders to effectively use ICT to improve governance and livelihoods. Our work responds to the shortage of information, resources and actors consistently working at the nexus of technology, human rights and society in Africa. We conduct our work mostly through research, advocacy, capacity development, and convenings.

Job Summary:  The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer (M&E Officer) will carry out monitoring and evaluation activities including data collection and reporting on project outcomes. The M&E Officer will oversee data collection, consolidate and analyse monitoring data and draft reports, conduct specific research activities, and conduct regular Data Quality Assessment (DQA). 


  1. Develop M&E Framework:
    • Finetune and implement a comprehensive M&E framework for CIPESA, including indicators, data collection methods, and reporting mechanisms.
    • Ensure alignment of the M&E framework with programme objectives and donor requirements.
  2. Data Collection, Management, and Analysis:
    • Coordinate data collection activities, including surveys, interviews, focus groups, and other data sources.
    • Establish data collection tools and ensure they are used consistently.
    • Manage and maintain a database for storing project data.
    • Analyse collected data to assess project progress and impact.
    • Identify trends, successes, challenges, and lessons learned.
    • Provide timely and relevant feedback to project staff.
  3. Reporting:
    • Prepare regular M&E reports for project management and donors, highlighting key findings and recommendations.
    • Ensure that project reports are submitted on time and in compliance with organisational and donor requirements.
  4. Capacity Building:
    • Train project staff and partners on M&E tools and techniques.
    • Provide ongoing support and mentorship to improve data collection and reporting.
  5. Quality Assurance:
    • Conduct data quality assessments to ensure the accuracy and reliability of project data.
    • Recommend corrective actions when data quality issues are identified.
  6. Learning and Adaptation:
    • Promote a culture of learning within the CIPESA team by facilitating discussions on M&E findings and implications for programme design.
    • Support the organisation in making data-driven decisions and adapting strategies as needed.
  7. Risk Assessment and Mitigation:
    • Identify potential risks and challenges in project implementation through M&E activities.
    • Collaborate with the CIPESA management to develop risk mitigation strategies.
  8. Stakeholder Engagement:
    • Engage with project stakeholders, including beneficiaries and partners, to gather feedback and incorporate their perspectives into the M&E process.

Qualifications and Skills:

  • Bachelor’s degree in statistics, demography, M&E or related field. A master degree or a bachelors plus an advanced certificate in M&E, and statistics preferred.
  • Proven three-year experience in monitoring and evaluation, preferably in a non-government/ development/ humanitarian context.
  • Strong data analysis and interpretation skills.
  • Proficiency in relevant data analysis software and tools.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Attention to detail and a commitment to producing high-quality work.
  • Knowledge of USAID reporting requirements and standards.

Standards of Professional Conduct:

CIPESA staff and partners must adhere to the values and principles outlined in the Code of Conduct, Equal Opportunity Policy, and Safeguarding against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment (SEAH) Policy. In accordance with these CIPESA operates and enforces policies on Beneficiary Protection from Exploitation and Abuse, Child Safeguarding, Harassment-Free Workplace, Fiscal Integrity, Anti-Retaliation, and several others.

Application Process:

Kindly send applications to  [email protected] latest September 12, 2023 at 18:00 East African Time (EAST), including a cover letter outlining how you fit the job requirements and your areas of expertise; a CV; names and contacts of three referees and the salary expectations.

Call for Consultant: Informational Guide on Digital Security of Financial Transactions for CSOs in Uganda

Announcement |

The USAID/Uganda Civil Society Strengthening Activity (CSSA) is a five-year USAID-funded Activity implemented by East-West Management Institute (EWMI) in partnership with the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). The Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) supported by EWMI seeks to develop and implement a CSO Compliance Index for the Regulatory Framework and Digital Security.

In this year CIPESA identified the need to develop and produce an informational guide on digital security of financial transactions for CSOs. The information Guide will feed into the overall goal which is to protect and expand civic space throughout Uganda by improving the enabling environment for civil society and fostering state-civil society engagement. And specifically, as a means to provide technical assistance towards strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) and other stakeholders to address restrictions on civic space in Uganda.

Find the full details here.

Navigating the Threats To Journalism in Uganda

By Brian Byaruhanga |

Over the years, journalists in Uganda have confronted a relentless tide of harassment, censorship, and physical violence as they diligently performed their duty. As reported by the Press Freedom Index, compiled by the Human Rights Network of Journalists, incidents of violations and abuse against journalists in Uganda have surged over recent years, climbing from 163 in 2018, to 165 in 2019, peaking at 174 in 2020, and 131 violations in 2021, culminating with Uganda dropping 7 (seven) places to 132 out of 180 countries from the 2021 rankings by the Freedom in the World Report in 2022. These transgressions are primarily orchestrated by regulatory authorities and security agencies. While challenges to journalism in Uganda are not novel, the advent of digital transformation and emergent technologies has infused new complexities into the landscape of press freedom and journalism practice in the country.

The ubiquity of digital technology has afforded journalists the ability to disseminate information rapidly. However, this swiftness has ushered in a suite of challenges to the very essence of journalism. It has engendered a proliferation of misinformation and disinformation, the imposition and acceptance of repressive legal frameworks, and the establishment of intricate content moderation systems.

In 2018, the Ugandan government, ostensibly to counteract the spread of what it pejoratively termed “gossip,” levied a tax on social media. This move was interpreted by critics as an effort to curtail freedom of speech and suppress dissenting viewpoints. Though, after years of resistance, this tax was ultimately overturned, it starkly illuminated the strained relationship between the government and the media.

In July 2022, the Computer Misuse (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Ugandan Parliament, a piece of legislation that later became law. It outlined a fresh set of offenses, subject to punitive penalties of imprisonment and fines. The bill was devised to “prohibit the sending or sharing of information that promotes hate speech” and “provide for the prohibition of sending or sharing false, malicious, and unsolicited information.” It also sought to define and penalize hate speech. 

See this CIPESA analysis of the  Computer Misuse Amendment Bill 2022.

According to the bill, “a person shall not write, send or share any information through a computer, which is likely to ridicule, degrade, or demean another person, group of persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion or gender; create divisions among persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion, or gender; or promote hostility against a person, group of persons, a tribe, an ethnicity, a religion, or gender.”

Less than three months following its introduction, the Ugandan Computer Misuse Amendment Act of 2022 came into force, receiving the presidential assent of H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on October 14, 2022.

These legislative measures appear to cloak attempts at content moderation under the guise of instilling self-censorship and disseminating fear regarding the sharing of information. Moreover, state surveillance emerges as another potent tool wielded against journalists, perpetuating reports of harassment, arrests, and detentions, often facilitated through state-sanctioned surveillance activities. There have also been allegations of the government employing spyware to target journalists and activists.

In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 general elections, the Ugandan government implemented stringent surveillance protocols while intensifying existing restrictions on free expression. This crackdown became particularly conspicuous after a cohort of Ugandan investigative journalists received notifications that their devices had been compromised by Pegasus, a spy software enabling operators to extract messages, photos, emails, record calls, and clandestinely activate microphones and cameras. Notably, this software is attributed to the Israeli spyware firm, NSO Group, which officially supplies the Pegasus software to military, law enforcement, and government intelligence agencies for the purpose of targeting criminals and terrorists. However, multiple reports surfaced indicating the use of the software against politicians, journalists, and activists. Investigative journalist Canary Mugume was among the few who received an alert from Apple, signalling that state-sponsored attackers may be targeting his phone.

The escalating adoption of technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning also invokes apprehension. While these technologies have the potential to enhance journalistic work, they also harbor the capacity to manipulate information and undermine the credibility of journalists. A notable example is the use of deepfake technology, capable of crafting persuasive yet fabricated videos or audio recordings, employed to discredit journalists and their work.

To address these threats to journalism in Uganda, it is imperative for journalists to embrace digital resilient practices, safeguarding their sources and their work. Additionally, media organizations should make investments in technologies capable of detecting and countering disinformation and misinformation.

The perils of disinformation and misinformation, state surveillance, arbitrary arrests, harassment, and brutality pose substantial challenges to the function of journalists and the role of media in a democratic society. Overcoming these challenges necessitates concerted efforts by journalists, media organizations, governments, civil society, and international entities to champion a free and independent media that effectively serves the public interest.

It is therefore imperative to acknowledge that journalists operate within an ever-evolving media and digital milieu. And proactive measures must be adopted to ensure their digital security through the implementation of appropriate precautions and the ongoing pursuit of the latest security measures. Specifically, journalists must undertake the following steps to safeguard their well-being while executing their professional responsibilities:

Digital Security Training: Journalists should participate in digital security training to acquire knowledge on how to protect themselves and their sources online. These training programs offer guidance on encrypting communications, securing devices, and maintaining anonymity.

Use of Encryption: Journalists should employ encryption tools like Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), encrypted messaging applications, and secure email services to ensure the security of their communications and data, safeguarding them from interception and surveillance.

Secure Data Storage: Journalists should adopt secure data storage practices, including the utilization of encrypted external hard drives, password-protected archives, and encrypted cloud storage services. These measures prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.

Two-Factor Authentication: To fortify their online security, journalists should implement two-factor authentication for their digital accounts. This extra layer of protection safeguards their accounts against unauthorized access.

Caution with Social Media: Journalists must exercise prudence on social media platforms. They should refrain from disseminating sensitive information and limit the extent of personal details shared online, thus mitigating the risk of exposing themselves or their sources to harm.

Practicing Situational Awareness: Maintaining an acute awareness of their surroundings is crucial for journalists, especially when conducting interviews or reporting from the field. This involves steering clear of hazardous areas and being vigilant for potential threats, ensuring their physical safety while pursuing their professional duties.

Use of Secure Networks: Public Wi-Fi networks, often unsecured, are susceptible to interception. Journalists should avoid their use and instead opt for secure networks or establish their own hotspots, reducing the risk of compromising sensitive data.

In navigating the multifaceted threats to journalism in Uganda, journalists must adopt a multifaceted approach encompassing personal digital security measures, collective industry efforts, and international advocacy for press freedom and journalists’ safety. These actions, coupled with unwavering commitment, will enable journalists to continue their indispensable work, promoting transparency, accountability, and democracy, even in the face of mounting challenges in the digital age.

Through the tireless pursuit of these strategies, journalists in Uganda can reinforce their resilience, fortify their commitment to truth-telling, and persevere in upholding the fundamental principles of journalism – principles that serve not only the interests of a free press but also the broader cause of democracy and informed citizenship. In this era of digital transformation, journalism remains an essential pillar of democracy and an indispensable guardian of society’s well-being. In conclusion, navigating the evolving landscape of journalism in Uganda demands not only the adoption of technical safeguards but also unwavering resolve. The challenges faced by journalists serve as a testament to the vitality of their work in safeguarding democratic values. In embracing the digital era, journalists must continue to shine a light on truth, accountability, and justice, thereby preserving the foundations of a vibrant, free, and democratic society.

Court Admits Expert Views from CIPESA, Access Now and Article 19 on Uganda’s Digital ID 

By CIPESA Writer |

On March 24, 2023, the High Court of Uganda at Kampala ruled to allow experts from Access Now, ARTICLE 19, and the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) to offer their opinions on the human rights red flags around the country’s digital identification (ID) system. 

The ruling followed an application by the three organisations for admission as “Friends of Court” in a case which challenges the use of the National Identification Register as the sole data source and primary means of identification prior to accessing various social services. Uganda’s national digital ID, also known as Ndaga Muntu, is a mandatory scheme for accessing various socio-economic services.

The court admitted the amicus brief submission by the trio despite objections from the Attorney General and the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) on grounds that the application was facilitated by bias and partiality of the applicants. The respondents further argued that the applications introduced new, inadmissible evidence – an assertion the court did not agree with. The court, in fact, noted the significance of the arguments raised  by Access Now, ARTICLE 19 and CIPESA, particularly on data protection, digital inclusion, surveillance, and the sufficiency of protection measures and their impact on the right to privacy.

The admission means that the court will consider the opinions of the three organisations in determining the case challenging Uganda’s digital ID system. In his ruling, Justice  Boniface Wamala noted that the matters the three organisations raised did not constitute evidence. Rather, they “constitute legal concepts that are new, unfamiliar, unusual or unique. Such aspects constitute the quality of novelty.”

The organisations made the application as neutral parties and experts to assist the court to be better abreast with novel areas that potentially contribute to the development of the law. 

The joint brief seeks to help court fully grasp the potential impact of the national digital ID program on online and offline rights including the right to privacy, the right to freedom of expression, as well as intersecting economic, social, and cultural rights by providing expert evidence at national, sub regional, regional, and international levels. It also explains how the digital identity system might contribute to excluding citizens from basic access to services, thereby leaving them in a vulnerable state.  

The case challenging the ID system was filed by the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights,  Unwanted Witness, and Health Equity and Policy Initiative, against the Ugandan Attorney General and the NIRA. The NIRA is the body charged with creating and managing the National Identification Register by registering births, deaths, citizens and non-citizens. 

In its affidavit in support of the amicus application, CIPESA argued that as an expert in  advancing internet freedom and governance, civic participation, and data governance, it saw the need to intervene as a friend of court, in public interest and the interest of justice, to promote and protect human rights.

According to CIPESA’s Legal Officer, Edrine Wanyama, the ruling to hear the opinions of the expert organisations could help in shaping new and emerging areas of the law in Uganda on the need to respect privacy and other rights in the deployment of digital technologies in public digitalisation programmes, including initiatives like the Digital ID.

“This is a demonstration of the commitment of the courts to remain open to new and emerging knowledge and jurisprudence and to receive expert opinions on how to protect citizens from potential harms associated with the use of technology,” said Wanyama. 

CIPESA anticipates that the court will draw considerable knowledge from the amicus submissions and reach a decision that ensures that the roll-out of the digital ID system does not serve as a tool for exclusion but as an inclusion tool for all persons in accessing social and economic services.

Access Now, ARTICLE 19, and CIPESA aim to continue offering the court expert views that could help to ensure that the digital ID system is implemented in a manner that respects minimum human rights standards and promotes and protects rights and freedoms.