Democracy Works Foundation (DWF) in partnership with Freedom House Southern Africa (FH)) presents The Southern Africa Political Parties and Dialogue Programme (SAPP&D).
Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), SAPP&D seeks to strengthen the democratic structures and institutions of political parties to better respond to and represent the needs of citizens, particularly in the areas of water and energy resource management. In this way, the SAPP&D Programme also aims to contribute to the realisation of SADC’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Strategy and Action, and SADC’s Regional Water Infrastructure Programme. It also seeks to deepen democratic governance in the region. The programme is being implemented across the five SADC countries of Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, and Zambia.
Whilst Southern Africa is a region with great potential it is also a water-scarce one. The ever-increasing impact of climate change on these countries and the region presents many challenges, among them water and energy challenges, which impact the region’s capacity for development to improve people’s lives. Access to clean and sustainable water and energy resources lies at the root of efforts to alleviate poverty for the region’s population. The programme seeks to strengthen the ability of political parties to develop and implement participatory policies around access to sustainable water supply, clean water, and clean energy, using evidence-based knowledge, while at the same time enhancing a democratic political culture that supports the meaningful participation of women, youth and marginalised individuals. The programme also facilitates the establishment of a Southern Africa regional network/platform through which political parties in the targeted countries can share best practices, lessons learned and knowledge on their engagement in energy and water resources management, as well as on strengthening democratic party structures and practices.
The programme recognises the central role that political parties play in a democracy. Political parties are institutions that aggregate citizen’s needs and concerns, and translate these into practical and implementable programs that benefit them (the citizens) within national and local legal, budgetary and policy frameworks. Thus, by deliberately and proactively engaging political parties and political actors in the areas of energy and water resources management, it is expected that these sectors will receive the necessary policy, budgetary and – generally – public attention not only at national (governmental) level but also – and more importantly – within the political parties themselves.
Through SAPP&D it is expected that political parties will have an in-depth understanding of the state of affairs and other dynamics regarding energy and water resource management in their respective communities and countries and. In turn, political parties can then serve as champions for these sectors considering that it is political parties that set the public policy agendas. Beyond having a comprehensive appreciation of the state of affairs regarding energy and water resource management and in addition to serving as champions for these sectors, political parties – because of their centrality in society – can also be pace-setters in developing and implementing meaningful policies and strategies in response to challenges encountered in these sectors. This is why the SAPP&D Programme will support political parties in the areas of inclusive policy-making, among other interventions.