The Journey to Sustainability for Selected CSOs in Ghana: Experiences, Milestones, Challenges, and Lessons Learnt

The Journey to Sustainability for Selected CSOs in Ghana: Experiences, Milestones, Challenges, and Lessons Learnt

Civil society, together with government and the private sector, constitute an essential pillar of a well-functioning state. Civil society across the globe has emerged as a key stakeholder in the development process and a vital force in strengthening governance processes. In West Africa, civil society continues to grow and evolve. The sector’s contribution to democratic development and consolidation has been significant (Atuguba 2013). In Ghana, the Commonwealth estimates that “there are around 300,000 NGOs”, with an estimated annual development expenditure of $150-200 million.1 Atuguba (2013) highlights some of civil society’s specific contributions as (1) Initiating policies which are approved by Cabinet and passed into law by the Parliament; (2) Holding public officers accountable for the use of public resources; (3) Performing a critical role in mobilising social capital for development activities; (4) Articulating citizens’ interests and demands and defending citizens’ rights; (5) Advocating for the equitable distribution of national resources; (6) Mediating between the State and citizen groups on contentious issues; (7) Nurturing peace and security; and (8) Providing goods and services to mostly unreached segments of the population amongst others

Although civil society plays a key role in contributing to the development of Ghana, dwindling funding, inadequate staff capacity, absence of enabling legislation to catalyse the work of civil society actors are some of the key challenges that are plaguing the sector in the country. Civil society organisations (CSOs) in Ghana are generally fragile and dependent on donor funding mechanisms for survival. CSOs in Ghana are under immense pressure to operate, survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive sector while maintaining independence and continually generating funds to pursue planned operations and command strong recognition and influence.

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