Terms of reference: Socio-economic Justice for All

The Foundation for Human Rights wishes to engage the services of researchers working with civil society organisations to create a composite active citizenry index measuring the levels of participation of members of the vulnerable and marginalised groups in South Africa.

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Closing Date : 2016-03-15 16:00:00


The Foundation for Human Rights (the Foundation) is a grant-making institution. It supports civil society organisations in South Africa implementing programmes that promote and protect human rights. The Foundation's mission is to address the historical legacy of apartheid, to promote and advance transformation and to build a human rights culture, using the Constitution as a tool.

The Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) in partnership with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) has commenced a new multi-year programme called ‘Socio-Economic Justice for All’ -SEJA (also called Amarightza-, hereinafter referred to as the Programme).

The specific objective of the programme is to assist the FHR and the DOJ&CD fulfil their mandate to achieve the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP 2030) in respect of Building Active Citizenship and Enhancing Participatory Democracy.

The Programme consists of six (6) Key Result Areas (KRAs):

  • KRA 1: Improved awareness of constitutional rights, with an emphasis on socio-economic rights and on vulnerable groups;
  • KRA 2: Enhanced participatory democracy through public policy dialogues on constitutional rights;
  • KRA 3: Improved and sustained collaboration between Government, Chapter Nine institutions, civil society, Community Advice Offices (CAOs) and other stakeholders to deliver justice services and socio-economic rights;
  • KRA 4: Increased research on socio-economic rights and jurisprudence;
  • KRA 5: Improved sector co-ordination and policy design on constitutional development;
  • KRA 6: Strengthened capacity, engagement and participation of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the realisation of constitutional rights.

This programme is funded by the European Union through its Sector Budget Support to the South African government. It builds on and extends the FHR’s previous programme which was known as the “Access to Justice and Promotion of Constitutional Rights Programme” (AJPCR).

Strategic Context and rationale for project

Purpose of these TOR

The Foundation for Human Rights wishes to engage the services of researchers working with civil society organisations to create a composite active citizenry index measuring the levels of participation of members of the vulnerable and marginalised groups in South Africa. The purpose of the index is to identify the barriers that prevent citizens from reaching their full potential, participating in the decision making processes that affect their lives. Active citizenry is based on participation as defined by the National Development Plan to which the Socioeconomic Justice for All (SEJA) programme is aligned.

South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030 (NDP-2030) is predicated on ‘An approach to change: Enhanced capabilities and active citizenry’ and sets out government’s vision of an active citizenry capable of taking up issues and holding government to account.  The NDP-V2030 recognises the need to build a capable active citizenry and to address the obstacles preventing them from playing an active role. 
SEJA draws on the principles in the South African Constitution and in particular the Bill of Rights, with reference to Socio-Economic Rights. SEJA is also informed by the goals of the National Development Plan and the government’s aim to create an environment where citizens are not afraid to take up their rights. In addition, SEJA draws on the work of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona and her groundbreaking work on the participation of people living in poverty. In her 2013 report on the rights of people living in extreme poverty to participation, she argues, that ‘lack of power is a universal and basic characteristic of poverty’. 

Poverty is not solely a lack of income, but rather is characterised by a vicious cycle of powerlessness, stigmatisation, discrimination, exclusion and material deprivation, which all mutually reinforce each other. Powerlessness manifests itself in many ways, but at its core is an inability to participate in or influence decisions that profoundly affect one’s life, while decisions are made by more powerful actors who neither understand the situation of people living in poverty, nor necessarily have their interests at heart.[1]  The rapporteur writes: “Conceived as a right, participation is a means of challenging forms of domination that restrict people’s agency and self-determination.[2]  The report offers detailed principles that should guide all participatory processes from the beginning at design stage, formulation, implementation, follow-up and evaluation[3]. The principles are: respect for dignity, autonomy and agency; non-discrimination and equality; transparency and access to information; accountability; empowerment.
B. Key Performance indicator (2.2)

The project locates its implementation within the Socio-Economic Justice for All Programme (SEJA) of the Foundation for Human Rights.
One of the key performance indicators of the programme is the design and implementation of an Active Citizen Index (ACI) that will serve as a tool to measure the outcomes of participatory mechanisms in the country and the extent of value based participation incorporating democratic values, mutual respect and human rights. The emphasis is on the societal outcomes of democracy and social cohesion rather than the benefits of participation on the individual[4]
The Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights has focused on the right to participation of people living in poverty and has declared that "Participation is a basic human right in itself, a precondition or catalyst for the realisation and enjoyment of other human rights, and of fundamental importance in empowering people living in poverty to tackle inequalities and asymmetries of power in society."
Problem Statement:

The Constitution of South Africa requires that the NDP-30 is explicit on the role of civil society in transforming society and uniting the country.

The NDP-2030 also promotes active citizenry to strengthen development, democracy and accountability and acknowledges that active citizenry and social activism is necessary for democracy and development to flourish. The NDP acknowledges that while legislation provides numerous avenues for citizen participation in governance beyond elections, at a substantive level participation remains perfunctory. Protests in South Africa which have often turned violent reflect a growing disjuncture between citizens and the Government. NDP-2030 provides concrete recommendations including government-citizen communication, information sharing, performance monitoring, and leadership.
Participation not only affirms the right of every individual and group to take part in the conduct of public affairs, but also addresses issues of poverty and social exclusion. Participatory methods are important tools for empowerment, accountability and ending the cycle of deprivation and dependency in favour of the autonomy and social inclusion of persons living in poverty.
Research Question
What is the extent of participation in policy making and decision making among members of the marginalised and vulnerable groups and what are the obstacles to this participation, given that current channels of participation do not work.
While the Constitutional Court has provided some guidance on the participation of citizens, currently no framework exists to measure meaningful and effective participation of citizens and their influence on public policy. One of the goals of the SEJA programme is to develop a policy framework that includes the explicit right of individuals and vulnerable groups to participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of any policy, programme or strategy that affects their rights, at local, national and international level. The development of a participatory framework will be carried out in collaboration with the CSO sector. Under this result area, public policy dialogues that bring together government and civil society to explore the progressive realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in both the South African Constitution and the United Nations core human rights covenants will be developed and implemented.

The Special Rapporteur’s report recommends that states adopt a legal framework that includes the explicit right of individuals and groups to participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of any policy, programme or strategy that affects their rights, at the local, national and international levels. This should include:

  • Putting in place operational guidelines, policies and capacity-strengthening measures to enable public officials to apply these laws, and ensuring that these are adaptable to different contexts and allow innovation based on feedback from the ground;
  • Requiring the establishment of inclusive participatory mechanisms at the local and national levels;
  • Explicitly including the duty of policymakers and public officials to actively seek and support the meaningful participation of people living in poverty.[5]

A human rights-based approach provides a framework for the long-term eradication of extreme poverty based on the recognition of persons living in extreme poverty as rights holders and agents of change.
A human rights approach respects the dignity and autonomy of persons living in poverty and empowers them to meaningfully and effectively participate in public life, including in the design of public policy, and to hold duty bearers accountable.

Vulnerable and Marginalised Groups

Although persons living in extreme poverty cannot simply be reduced to a list of vulnerable groups, discrimination and exclusion are among the major causes and consequences of poverty. Persons living in poverty often experience disadvantage and discrimination based on race, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, language or other status.
Definition of Vulnerable and Marginalised Groups[6]

Within this programme, priority will be given to projects that address the concerns of the most vulnerable groups in society. As defined by the South African Human Rights Commission these include:

  • Women;
  • Children;
  • Rural and Urban poor communities;
  • Farm Workers;
  • People affected by HIV/AIDS;
  • Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Communities;
  • Children headed households;
  • People affected by:
    • Violations of their socio-economic rights;
    • Race and xenophobia;
    • Lack of land rights;
    • Their advanced age;
  • Persons with Disabilities; and
  • Youth, including youth in prisons.

Active Citizenry

The National Development Plan makes reference to addressing poverty and inequality and ensuring that the capabilities of citizens are realised.

The NDP’s strategy in addressing poverty and inequality i.e. "An Approach to Change: Enhanced Capabilities and Active Citizenry" draws extensively on the notion of capabilities and the political freedoms and human rights set out under the South African Constitution.

The NDP seeks to realise political freedoms and human rights and the social opportunities arising from education, health care, other public services as well as social security and safety nets. The NDP also asserts that Citizens have the right to expect government to deliver certain basic services, and to hold leaders accountable for their actions.


Effective and meaningful participation is an affirmation of the right of every individual and group to take part in the conduct of public affairs. It is also a means of promoting social inclusion and an essential component of efforts to combat poverty, not least by ensuring that public policies are sustainable and designed to meet the expressed needs of the poorest segments of society
States must ensure the active, free, informed and meaningful participation of persons living in poverty at all stages of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of decisions and policies affecting them.

This requires capacity-building and human rights education for persons living in poverty, and the establishment of specific mechanisms and institutional arrangements, at various levels of decision-making, to overcome the obstacles that such persons face in terms of effective participation. Particular care should be taken to fully include the poorest and most socially excluded persons.

Key Performance indicator (2.2)

The project locates its implementation within the Socio-Economic Justice for All Programme (SEJA) of the Foundation for Human Rights officially launched in December 2014 by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon John Jeffery.

A key performance indicator of the programme is the design of an Active Citizenry Composite Index.

FHR intends to use services of action researchers, academics and or relevant institutions to design of an Active Citizen Composite Index will incorporate a two phase strategy:

  • Phase 1

The first phase will involve the contracting, design, development, coordination, implementation and evaluation of a modularised questionnaire about the levels of participation of marginalised groups living in poverty in the decisions that affect their lives as well as the obstacles to this participation.

The researchers will design a questionnaire/ mapping process focused on the extent of participation of marginalised communities in SA policy making and decision making. Three communities in diverse provinces will be targeted where each community will have representative of different vulnerable groups.

  • Phase 2

The researcher, designer and/or content drafters must also be willing to assist in Phase 2 which will disaggregate the data mined from the questionnaire/mapping exercise in order to form the basis of an active citizen composite index as an online tool to measure participation of citizens around policy making and decision on socio economic rights.

C. Objectives of this ToR

  • To secure services of academics, community action researchers content designers to design and implement an active citizenry composite index with reference to the NDP 2030 and the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty and Human Rights;
  • To develop and design an index reflecting the levels of active citizenry among vulnerable groups and obstacles to the achievement of participation through a two stage process:
    • Stage One: Designing and conducting a questionnaire or mapping exercise among three communities in three different provinces;
    • To disaggregate the data mined in Stage One in order to design the online ACCI web application.

D. Philosophical Underpinnings of Methodology

The key methodological contribution of active citizenry index in the construction and estimation of a development index from the perspective of the vulnerable groups.

The composite indicator should be based on key pillars:

  • a solid theoretical framework around community participation and active citizenry; and
  • a sound process of construction, and good-quality underlying data.

(Nardo et al. 2005).

  • A sound methodological framework for credibility, taking into account validity, reliability;
  • Retain its relevance over time;
  • Be credible in dialogue with stakeholders; and
  • Finally, it needs to facilitate constructive negotiations/social transformation dialogues rather than create disagreements between stakeholder (rights holders and duty bearers).

D. Modalities

Call for expressions of interests to design, develop, the Active Citizenry Composite Index in two phases.

E. Activities:

  • Enlist the services of a relevant organisation;
  • Design a questionnaire to serve as a mapping tool for phase one of the project;
  • Data analysis, write up and packaging into an online app ACCI, popular report, infographics and research report.

F.   Outcomes of Programme

  • Development of an Active Citizen Index that will assist in ascertaining the obstacles experienced by vulnerable groups in participation and realisation of an active citizenry within a rights-based constitution;
  • Report structure which identifies a broad set of (possibly conflicting) viewpoints of what constitutes a participation among the vulnerable groups in SA. Report has to be organised among three dimensions: Perceptions of participation in decision making processes of vulnerable groups towards realization of the following socio economic rights namely: Right to Water, Sanitation, Housing, Health, Education, Social Security, Food and Land. The subthemes under this dimension should include the grassroots capacity to influenceas well as their capacity to control the development processReport content should reflect capacity on how marginalised groups participate in making of policies and decisions affecting their lives is reflected by the extent to which they can voice their opinions, as well as their competency in doing so; they should exercise freedom of choice and be given the opportunity to resolve development problems in collaboration with government. The ability of the marginalised groups to influence development process depends on the extent to which they are informed about their rights as rights holders. This depends on their ability to seek information; engagement in group advocacy; ability to press for their demands through lawful means.

Targeted study population

  • Community-based organisations, and the members of the vulnerable groups they work with;
  • Groups that are both geographically, economically and socially marginalised and vulnerable.

What we need?

  • The design and implementation of a ACCI by community action researchers, academics and or relevant institutions with four stages:
    • Stage One: ACCI design concept
    • Stage Two: A questionnaire or mapping tool development for vulnerable groups
    • Stage Three: Data Collection
    • Stage Four: Data analysis disaggregation of data, packaging and creation of the active citizens’ index APP, infographics, popular booklet on participation and research report.

Call value
Phase 1
Maximum value is R250 000 which includes:

  • ACCI design including methodological design and literature review.
  • Development of the questionnaire or mapping exercises
  • Data collection, data analysis, full research report with infographic and popular booklet of the research.

Phase 2
Maximum value R100 000.

  • Web application and packaging (i.e. summary popular online version app tool/ creation of the active citizens’ index APP.

All Interested individuals and organisations should send proposals or concept notes with sample of previous work by 15 March 2016 the following email address: Email: activecitzens(at)fhr.org.za.
Enquiries contact: Sarah Motha or Maureen Isaacs, Tel: 011 484 0390

[1] Op cit, 4
[2] Ibid, 5
[3] Ibid, 10
[4] Massimiliano Mascherini, Anna Rita Manca, Bryony Hoskins. 2009. The characterization of Active Citizenship in Europe. A report of the European Commission Joint Research Centre: Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen.
[5] A/HRC/23/36.
[6] South African Human Rights Commission Economic and Social Rights Unit 6th Food Protocol 2003-2004