Why NAPI ?
The good functioning of democracy relies on the regular, transparent, and inclusive debate of ideas and perspectives between and among citizens and civil servants.
The 2011 uprisings brought about more democratic and participatory institutions in most North African countries. However, these institutions do not rest on the rich deliberative policy-making process that should drive them. Young North Africans are best placed to fill this void. Having matured during the 2011 uprisings and their aftermaths, they are best placed to understand the changing context and its challenges, and to propose solutions.
Although the “rules of the game” have changed towards more democratic and participatory governance, decision-makers still have a centralized and non-participatory conception of policy-making and governance. Policy discussions and decisions are typically made by central authorities without input from the numerous and diverse national stakeholders (e.g. local administrators, civil society activists, entrepreneurs, researchers). This neglect particularly affects youth and women, and there is low level of local ownership, participation, and engagement.
Moreover, national and international stakeholders often fail to comprehend the profound and pervasive impact of the social, political, and economic changes that the 2011 uprisings in North Africa brought about. Policy-makers engaged in North Africa struggle to conceptualize policies that seize opportunities rather than simply reacting to disruptive challenges. More precisely, policy programs do not address the following challenges:
- A lack of intimate, grassroots, and context-specific research on local actors, processes, challenges, and successes, which they need to inform effective policies and programs, rather than one-size-fits-all international best practices;
- A low level of local ownership and participation, particularly among youth and women.
- Lack of research and writing skills among youth needed to collect convincing evidence and articulate thoughts in a structured, clear, and concise policy briefing paper format.
- Very little opportunity for youth to share knowledge and discuss opinions with experts and practitioners. There is often no platform or support to undertake outreach and advocacy efforts that are crucial to ensure that research and policy proposals have an impact. When they are written, policy papers are poorly disseminated and rarely discussed with policy-makers. Moreover, they are hardly ever translated into the three major languages used by citizens and national and international stakeholders (i.e. English, French, and Arabic).
- Most events (trainings, workshops, conferences) are conducted abroad. This makes it impossible for some people to participate as travel is expensive, and some people do not have a valid passport and cannot obtain one. It also makes it difficult to organize follow-up activities, and it does not build local capacity.
- Workshops and trainings are not driven by youth input and are not always useful. Trainings and workshops often fail to fulfil specific needs of civil society activists and policy leaders. Based on our field research, civil society activists report only being offered the opportunity to attend trainings that were decided by international actors, without consulting with them as to what training would be most useful.
These challenges contribute to the marginalization, the alienation, and often to the migration of some of the brightest and most engaged North African youth.
What is unique about NAPI ?
Other training, writing, and advocacy initiatives exist in North African countries. However, NAPI does not limit itself to building knowledge or capacity. It concretely helps young leaders translate them into practice and join the policy research, analysis, and formulation circles. These are the elements that together make NAPI unique:
- NAPI is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization;
- NAPI has a transnational regional focus;
- NAPI does not impose any thematic area. Rather, it adopts a locally-owned participatory approach whereby participants select the thematic area and issue they are passionate about and on which they want to make a change;
- NAPI provides education, on-going mentoring, guidance, and support throughout all steps that that lead from conceptualization to action: problem formulation and scoping, research, writing, public communication, and advocacy;
- NAPI fosters South-South, regional cooperation through transnational capacity building and events, and by relying primarily on North African trainers, mentors, and reviewers.