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General Information: Community Agency for Social Enquiry (C A S E)

The Centre for Civil Society works closely with the Community Agency for Social Enquiry (C A S E) on the Research and Analysis Skills Training Programme. C A S E is an applied research NGO, working in the socio-economic, political and developmental fields in South Africa. It undertakes research in a wide range of areas, covering different aspects of economy, society and politics in South Africa. Its focus areas include: civil society and the state, development and poverty alleviation, environment, education, gender, health and welfare, human rights, labour and the economy, media, and youth.

C A S E handles national, provincial and local surveys, focus groups, project and organisational evaluations, programme impact assessments, policy and literature reviews. It controls all stages of the research process, from design and data gathering to analysis and report production. Its fieldwork unit ensures that data collection is executed to high standards under tight supervision.

On a large number of projects C A S E has worked in partnership with a client, a donor agency, and an advisory group, along lines similar to those proposed for this study. Among these are:

· Monitoring socio-economic rights in South Africa (client: Human Rights Commission; funding provided by the HSRC and the EU Foundation for Human Rights): 1998
· Gender opinion survey (client: the Commission on Gender Equality; funding provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation; an advisory group): 1998-99
· Extent and nature of the disability experience in South Africa (client: national Department of Health; funding provided by Flemish government; an advisory group): 1998-99
· Infrastructure Delivery in South Africa (client: Nedlac; funding was provided by the Department of Constitutional Development; an advisory group): 1998-99
· Health beneficiary assessment in Mozambique (client: the Mozambican Ministry of Health; funding provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation): 1999-2000
· Social security for children (client: national Department of Social Development; an advisory group): 1999-2000
· Soul City 4 (client: the Soul City Institute; funding provided by a number of international organisations; an advisory group): 1999-2000
· Youth 2000 (client: National Youth Commission; funding provided by the Royal Netherlands Embassy; an advisory group): 2000-01

As an NGO formed to enhance the research capacity of the democratic movement under apartheid, C A S E has worked for, with and within civil society and the NGO sector. In the course of its existence it has moved from total dependence on donor funding to earning much of its income from commissioned work. This experience facilitated its involvement in a research project exploring ways that NGOs and CBOs can access government funds as service providers. Commissioned by Interfund in the light of the changing funding patterns in the post-1994 period, the study's goal was to provide an insight into the implications of and need for strategic re-orientation of civil society organisations that seek to become self-sustaining. The outcome of this investigation was a joint publication by C A S E and Interfund – Tango in the Dark.

Following this project, C A S E has worked closely with Sangoco in a number of areas, and has acted as the co-ordinator for the Sangoco research sector. This work included a study of the state tender process, in order to gain an understanding of the NGO experience of the prevailing system, to develop proposals for reform and to produce a user-friendly guide for organisations involved in tendering. The findings of the research were used in provincial workshops to inform organisations about the opportunities and challenges presented by the tender system.

Another project undertaken with Sangoco was a study of the state of civil society in South Africa, combining historical and theoretical perspectives with an analysis of the current dilemmas facing civil society organisations wishing to engage the state actively but remain independent of it. In addition to document review and analysis, the research incorporated the perspectives of civil society actors through interviews conducted with representatives of NGOs and CBOs, and analysed provincial workshops organised by SANGOCO to discuss conceptual and practical issues.

C A S E has also conducted research on the role of civil society in urban governance in metropolitan Johannesburg, with a focus on civics. It played a role in setting up the South African component of the Johns Hopkins non-profit sector study, and conducted focus groups with ‘invisible’ citizens from marginalised groups in society, as well as interviews with a range of ‘visible’ leaders and policy analysts for the Millennium project. A report based on this research was presented by Sangoco at the Third Commonwealth NGO forum and at the 2000 Commonwealth Meeting in Durban.

In 1998, when Sangoco convened the Poverty Hearings, together with the SA Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Gender Equality, C A S E compiled, edited and wrote up The People’s Voices, the official record of the Hearings. C A S E has played a leading role in the Women’s Budget series, which proposes an alternative budget that addresses women’s concerns from a basis in civil society. C A S E has worked with and produced studies for various institutions dealing with rights in South Africa, including the Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality, the National Youth Commission and the Office on the Status of Disabled People.

Other recent relevant studies include a study undertaken during the run-up to the 1999 elections into public opinion and attitudes. As part of that project, C A S E conducted interviews with 350 opinion-shapers (national and provincial parliamentarians from different parties, business leaders and representatives of civil society and labour organisations), and undertook a content analysis to identify the key issues discussed in the print and electronic media. Both components fed into a series of articles in the Independent newspapers before the 1999 national elections.

A recent study for the National Institute for Public Interest Law and Research (Nipilar) saw C A S E designing a questionnaire on public awareness of human rights and human rights institutions, administering it and reporting on the findings. Many of the questions for this study were drawn from previous studies of human rights conducted by C A S E, to allow comparability over time. Among the latter are a survey and focus groups on human rights knowledge, conducted for the European Union foundation for Human Rights, and a study on the implementation of socio-economic rights conducted for the SA Human Rights Commission, both in 1998.

In the beginning of 2000, C A S E was commissioned by the President’s Office to assess public opinion and attitudes towards a range of political issues including the performance of government. This was done through 20 focus groups in provinces and sectors of the population. The study’s findings fed into the President’s opening speech to Parliament in February 2000.

Another recent study conducted for the Gauteng Legislature, involved an evaluation of its Public Participation and Petitions Office, which aims to provide a link between the public and elected representatives. C A S E used a combination of research techniques, including a survey of awareness by the general public; analysis of petitions made to the Office; focus groups with participants at public education workshops; and interviews with petitioners and members of the legislature. A study of a particular Bill, submissions on the Bill, and the subsequent Act sought to assess the impact of submissions on the final legislative product.

Other relevant projects include a study of funding for civil society organisations conducted for the Transitional National Development Trust, studies of socio-economic conditions and community development preferences in Alexandra township, in informal settlements around Gauteng, and in 12 hostels and community sites in Gauteng.

In addition to the conceptual work described above, C A S E has conducted a wide range of studies on social and developmental issues, using survey methodology and qualitative research. These include surveys for the national elections in 1994 and the local government elections of 1995, as well as research on the Constitutional Assembly and this body's media campaigns. In June 1999 on the day of the elections, C A S E conducted a massive survey of 11 000 voters, commissioned by the IEC, in order to determine whether the elections were free and fair. This feat was replicated on 5 December 2000 when a similar logistical exercise was conducted to determine whether the local government elections held on that day were free and fair.

This extensive applied research experience has led to and benefited from an investment in staff development and internal training in quantitative and qualitative methods, an internship programme with a focus on enhancing the research capacity of young researchers, and taking part in academic teaching at Wits university.

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