DRL Protecting the Rights of Environmental Defenders in Africa

Funding Agency:
Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in protecting the freedoms of expression and association of environmental defenders in Africa (referring to Sub-Saharan Africa) through targeted advocacy efforts and strategic litigation.

Climate change and environmental degradation present serious threats to communities around the world.  Large-scale infrastructure, extractive, and agribusiness projects, as well as rapid growth, have exacerbated environmental degradation throughout Africa.  There has been a concerning lack of public information at the national and global levels on climate disasters in Africa, as well as exclusion of the public from decision-making, lack of transparency in processes related to large-scale infrastructure and other projects, and few or no opportunities for accountability or redress.  Most often, marginalized and underserved communities bear the brunt of this exploitation and historically, have not been included or have been actively silenced in high-level policy and legal discussions on climate change and its impact on the environment.  There have also been reports of human rights violations and abuses against members of impacted African communities, including indigenous communities; civil society and worker rights activists; and journalists and members of media organizations reporting on these topics.  As political will and momentum for combatting climate change and preserving the environment for all increases, efforts that address the high rates of violence, attempts to silence and failure to apply domestic and international protections to environmental defenders should also be addressed, including through legal avenues. 

DRL seeks regional projects in Africa that clearly articulate the linkages between threats to the rights of environmental defenders and climate-focused issues, including climate action, natural disaster response, and environmental governance.  Proposed projects should seek to (1) elevate local community and grassroots-based activists, including worker rights advocates, women, and youth activists, and connect them with actors who have experience in advocacy and/or strategic litigation efforts (preferably also in Africa) and (2) improve their capacity to strategically and effectively use advocacy and litigation tools to achieve changes in policy and practices.

Proposed projects should seek to target up to three countries in Africa, with at least one focus country being Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Tanzania, or Nigeria.

Primary organizations can submit one application in response to the NOFO.  Interested applicants from within Duke should contact dukeiln@duke.edu as early as possible.

Deadline: March 18, 2022

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

DRL welcomes applications from U.S.-based and foreign-based non-profit organizations/nongovernment organizations (NGO) and public international organizations; private, public, or state institutions of higher education; and for-profit organizations or businesses.  DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be some occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited. 



Funding Type





Environmental & Life Sciences
International Opportunities
Social Sciences

External Deadline

March 18, 2022