09th November 2015

The Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles (CEPS) has celebrated its first anniversary. The special day was on the 08th of November, through a dissolution and establishment vote by the General Assembly of the Liaison Unit of Non-Governmental Organisations of Seychelles (LUNGOS).

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During this past twelve months, CEPS has focused on policy and strategic engagement. This has enabled the platform to strengthen relationships with not only its members but also with its partners and stakeholders.

The Member’s Dialogue, a forum where specific topics are discussed with members, has given CEPS’ accredited members the opportunity to share and discuss pertinent issues affecting the sector. The forum has created opportunity for CEPS’ members to engage with partners on relevant issues. As associations, CEPS’ members have been meeting with the Credentials Committee, as part of the ‘Tête a Tête’ initiative. The meetings are aimed at permitting the committee, which is the guardian of CEPS’ membership, to understand the works being carried out by members and identify ways that the platform can support its members.

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Through its seven thematic commissions, CEPS’ members have had the opportunity to work on various projects in both the social and environment fields.

Following the pledges made by civil society organization’s to support the Test and Treat campaign launched nationally in 2014 by the National AIDS Council, various organizations within CEPS have joined the Education Social and Health Commission to conduct the programme throughout 2015. The campaign has so far been held in the district of Roche Caiman, and is currently taking place in Ile Perseverance. Civil society’s commitment in the fight against HIV/Aids and Hepatitis has led to its active participation in the recently held 14th Indian Ocean Colloquium.

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CEPS’ members have also joined forces with the Faith based Commission, in holding sessions in secondary schools, where informative sessions on the dangers of alcohol and drugs, have been organized. As part of this project, the Drugs & Alcohol Council (DAC) and officers of the Wellness Center as well as representatives of the Social Department have also been actively involved. In the recent months the commission has joined forces with the Campaign for Awareness, Resilience and Education (CARE) as part of the organizations series of programmes.

CEPS Environment and Natural Resources Commission have been leading the Baie Ternay Complementary Project, aimed at putting forward a proposal to Government for the Baie Ternay site. As part of this project, CEPS has been working in partnership with two ministries namely Finance, Trade & Blue Economy and the Minister of Environment, Energy & Climate Change. The project has also permitted CEPS to work with the University of Seychelles in the development of their concept for the Blue Economy Research Institute.

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At national level, the platform is currently being represented on various boards and committees such as the Gender Management Team, National Aids Council, Seychelles Media Commission and the High Level Forum which is chaired by the President of the Republic.

CEPS as the platform for civil society has in June of this year held a forum to discuss the fundamental roles and responsibility of citizens in upholding the constitution of Seychelles. Based on recommendations, the platform plans on sensitizing the wider civil society on constitutional rights and responsibilities and conduct citizenship education through public talks and discussions on specific chapters of the constitution.

As part of the national budget process, the platform has been working in close partnership with the Ministry of Finance. The platform has partnered with the said ministry for two workshops pertaining to the Programme Performance Based Budgeting still being piloted at government level. As part of this process, CEPS has also set up a committee to engage with the ministry as part of the national budget, to assist in the setting up a legal framework for citizens engagement in the national budget process.

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Also during this year CEPS has stepped up its engagement with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). CEPS already forms part of the EITI Multi Stakeholders Group. During this past year members of civil society has been engaged through various meetings to better understand this initiative and understand how vital this industry is to civil society, especially when the extraction of these natural resources can lead to economic growth and social development.

On an international level CEPS currently holds the presidency of the SADC Council of NGOS, the lead apex body of Non-Governmental organisations operating in the SADC countries.
Through the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Mauritius Council of Social for Service (MACOSS), the year ahead promises engagement at regional level, not only for CEPS but also for our members in the region.

The platform is also a member of the International Forum of national NGO platforms (IFP). As a member CEPS is supporting IFP as part of its bid to apply for a project aimed at strengthening regional, European and global CSO umbrella organizations, a project recently launched by the European Commission.
For the year ahead CEPS is hoping to hold capacity building programmes for its members and the wider civil society. CEPS will explore options for new partnerships especially in areas where it hopes to introduce programmes in line with its vision and mission.

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A year after its inception as the platform for civil society, CEPS has increased its membership with 17 new organizations. The platform remains committed to its vision of becoming the credible and strong Platform that engages strategically and systematically in Nation-Building. It has not been an easy year for the platform; nevertheless it has managed to remain focused as the voice of the civil society sector in the country.