the fifth edition of the Civil Society Organization (CSO) Sustainability Index for the Middle East and North Africa, which covers developments in 2016. This edition of the Index reports on the strength and overall viability of the CSO sectors in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen, and the West Bank and Gaza. The Index relies on the knowledge of CSO practitioners and researchers, who in each country form an expert panel to assess and rate seven interrelated dimensions of CSO sustainability: legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, infrastructure, and public image.
The Index is a useful source of information for local CSOs, governments, donors, academics, and others who want to better understand and monitor key aspects of sustainability in the CSO sector.
CSOs faced serious obstacles, but still managed to achieve significant progress in 2016. Most notably in Egypt but also across the region, governments imposed new legal hurdles that restricted the operating space for civil society. At the same time, CSOs remained outspoken on behalf of their constituencies and in the interest of human rights. Despite the dramatic challenges posed by an unstable and insecure region, CSOs made great strides in strengthening their organizations, continuing to assist the public in myriad ways, and in many cases enhancing their relationship with the public they serve.