Democracy and Human Rights Fund (DHRF)


IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to budget constraints, there is currently no funding available for Democracy and Human Rights Fund projects in Zambia. If you are considering submitting an application, please contact for more information.

Available Free of Charge

Open Season: no deadline; applications accepted on an ongoing basis. The U.S. Democracy and Human Rights Fund in Zambia seeks small, distinct, short-term, and high impact activities that promote political pluralism and human and civil rights. This program is highly competitive; grants usually range between $3,000 and $15,000. Activities often fall under, but are not limited to the following areas:

  1. Human Rights: education, human rights NGO start-ups, creative projects to improve respect/ reinforcement of human rights, or torture victim rehabilitation.
  2. Legal: publication, translation into minority dialects and dissemination of the constitution and other laws, legal education, bar and legal association start-ups, or legal aid projects.
  3. Judicial: improving the Judiciary’s efficiency, training court officials – including local or traditional officials –on the rule of law or the role of the Judiciary in a democracy.
  4. Legislative: improving the Legislature’s efficiency, training MPs and their staff.
  5. Civic Education: public education for independent journalists on the role of the independent media, technical assistance, journalist association start-ups, public awareness campaign of voting rights and/or the social costs of public corruption.
  6. Women’s Rights: education, counseling and legal support for the prevention of violence against women or female genital mutilation (female circumcision), empowerment of women (non-economic), or women-led NGO start-ups, increased access of women and ethnic groups to the judicial system and to the political processes.
  7. Children’s Rights: education, eradication of child labor, support of abuse counseling and prevention.
  8. Electoral: very limited assistance to independent electoral commissions of officials (committee consultation required), assistance to NGO monitoring groups
  9. Conflict Resolution: limited to activities that promote tolerance and understanding between sectors of society such as ethnic or religious groups or political factions; i.e. workshops, discussion groups, publication of civic education material pertaining to equality of rights and responsibilities under a democratic system.

Limitations on the use of DHRF funds are governed by U.S. Congressional legislation, USAID policy restrictions and the DHRF activity authorization. Legislative restrictions on the use of DHRF funds translate into the following activities as ineligible for DHRF funds:

  1. Use of funds to influence the outcome of elections;
  2. Training or advice, or financial support for police, prisons, or other law enforcement forces, military or any program of internal intelligence or surveillance (including direct civic and human rights education);
  3. Funding Executive Branch activities, except in the case of a recognized independent National Electoral and/or Human Rights Commission where other funds are not available;
  4. Government delegations to attend international conferences under the auspices of multilateral or international organizations; and
  5. Assistance to any individual or entirely involved in illegal drug trafficking.

Further restrictions on this fund, based on USAID policy restrictions, do not allow:

  1. Building construction;
  2. Vehicle purchase;
  3. Long-term (12 months or more), recurring administrative costs, such as building or equipment maintenance, rent, office supplies, or administrative salaries;
  4. Travel outside of the immediate region;
  5. Conferences or workshops that lack a specific and clearly articulated goal;
  6. Research projects without a results-oriented component;
  7. Projects that duplicate other USAID or the former USIS, now Public Diplomacy (PD) programs in the cooperating country;
  8. Labor unions (unless human rights related) or projects in support of economic empowerment;
  9. Humanitarian assistance or support for refugees (unless human rights related);
  10. Any activities that do not directly encourage or promote increased adherence to civil and political rights;
  11. Any activities that asses the success or impact of earlier DHRF-funded activities,
  12. Purchase of pharmaceutical of non-U.S. source and origin (except as approved by USAID Washington);
  13. Purchase of pesticides or fertilizers (except as approved by USAID/Washington).

Response to proposals: Due to the high volume of proposals, applicants will be notified only if they have been selected for funding. We will not notify an applicant or group unless a project is selected.

Please ensure that your contact information (addresses, names, phone numbers, etc.) is correct. Application forms and materials will NOT be returned to you so please keep a copy for your own records and do not send original documents that you would like returned.

General Timetable: Applications may be received at any time during the year. Because the funding cycle is unpredictable, applications will be reviewed in whatever cycle they are received.

Review process: The small grants coordinator conducts a preliminary review; presents finalists to the board of committee for final review and selection, followed by the second phase of review that may include site visits. During this time, the coordinator works with potential grantees on finalizing the activities and budget. Please note that these exercises do not guarantee funding, as some groups may fail to comply with all the requirements.

Final stage: Based on the findings, the coordinator makes final recommendations to the committee. Upon the committee’s approval, a list of new grantees is formed. Agreements are then signed and grants awarded.