Civil society is a wide array of non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations. In Uganda, Civil society constitutes the full range of formal and informal organizations with in the economy. These includes social movements, volunteer organizations, indigenous peoples' organizations, mass-based membership organizations, non-governmental organizations, and community-based organizations, as well as communities and citizens acting individually and collectively. These groups of people are recognized as a diverse and ever-wider ecosystem of individuals, communities and organizations which contribute to the national development.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) play an important role in enhancing transparency and good governance in developing countries by contributing to increased public debate on issues surrounding the formulation and implementation of government budgets as well as supporting greater transparency of public revenues. By leveraging the coordinated efforts of people, a strong and vibrant civil society plays an important role in economic development, poverty reduction and the promotion of pluralism. Many civil society organizations (CSOs) have a proven capacity for broad-based mobilization and creating bottom-up demand that fosters responsive governance. Civil society advocacy can facilitate the participation of poor and vulnerable populations in the design and implementation of development policies and programmes. This can enhance the delivery of basic social services, such as health and education. Civil society organizations also play a critical watchdog role in public life.
In Uganda, under their umbrella body National NGO Forum, Civil Society is focusing on four essential areas for creating an improved civic space for Civil society in Uganda which include; financing models that guarantee sustainability, building formidable and mutually reinforcing partnerships, a facilitative legal and operating environment for organizations and finally trust between the organisations and the public.
Civil societies in Uganda continue to play an important role in policy advocacy through raising awareness of societal issues and challenges and advocating for change where necessary in the economy. This encourages public institutions to promote transparency and accountability.