Availing Sufficient Financial Resources to CSOs: From Rhetoric to Action

Availing Sufficient Financial Resources to CSOs: From Rhetoric to Action

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There have been resounding calls to make financial resources available to civil society organisations (CSOs) in West Africa. Embraced within the overall concept of ‘localisation of aid’, this remains an indispensable missing component within the development equation. 

Localisation of aid has been widely preached and considered as a panacea to the myriad of problems plaguing the advancement of the humanitarian and development aid sectors of our society. However, it seems this is not quite the case. This is partly because frontline actors have decried the alarming rate at which resources at their disposal to respond to the gruesome humanitarian and developmental challenges are grossly inadequate.   

It can also be attributed to the fact that many international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) overtly (but predominantly rhetorically) championing the course towards localisation of aid are not sufficiently taking practical measures to ensure that the localisation of aid agenda is a living reality.  

Hence, one can confidently assert that localisation of aid seems to be another scheme designed to meet the expectations of the initiators of the scheme. 

However, ideally, such a scheme [localisation of aid] should be mutually beneficial for all stakeholders in the ecosystem. Specifically, it should work in the interest of frontline actors, especially the vulnerable actors plagued by the manifestations of the societal challenges and those at the heart of the action; finding ways to address them to the best of their abilities.  

As positioned by the UN InterAgency Standing Committee, localisation seeks to enable a meaningful engagement and leadership of local and national actors in humanitarian response, enhancing capacity exchange and increasing direct funding. 

However, identified targets defined in the Grand Bargain Agreement have not been met. 

As highlighted by Maliasili, “globally, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities organisations and communities receive less than 1% of all climate funding, while African organisations receive approximately only 5% to 10% of private philanthropic funding invested in Africa.” This is woefully inadequate for the great work they do. 

Furthermore, when  I hear civil society actors clamouring loudly for ‘more access to funds by local actors’ in 2023, I begin to wonder whether the Grand Bargain agreement of 2016 is still worth its salt almost a decade after it was agreed upon.  

A core proposition of the agreement is to facilitate access to greater funding for national and local responders. However, when these ‘national and local responders’ still highlight recommendations like the one above at major stakeholder gatherings, it becomes clear something is not working well or working at all. It further serves as testimony that the earmarked 25 per cent funding for national actors and responders is  definitely not coming to them.  

One of the conspicuous commitments signed by the over 65 signatories to the Grand Bargain agreement is to, as much as possible, ‘channel 25 per cent of humanitarian finance as directly as possible to local actors’ 

Is this happening in a satisfactory way in today’s world? I’m sure your response is as good as mine! 

‘Not at all’ is the answer as evidenced in an independent review of the Grand Bargain in 2021. This report holds that there has been a substantial drop in funding reaching local actors directly. 

Recently, a study by Save the Children Denmark, the West Africa Civil Society Institute, the Global Fund for Community Foundations, Star Ghana Foundation and the NEAR Network titled I help them in my own way – exploring local humanitarian action in Burkina Faso and Mali purports that only about one – two per cent of the earmarked resources are actually channelled to countries facing humanitarian crises. 

Where then do we go from here? What could be the most effective panacea for this menace? 

Importantly, how can those of us operating within the development and humanitarian ecosystem ensure that those being supported are at the centre of key actions that affect their lives, and, have access to funds needed to make meaningful redress of woeful situations at satisfactory levels based on their needs and demands? 

An online discussion with diverse stakeholders on the research conducted by Save the Children Denmark and partners created an avenue for participants to re-echo some of the simple and urgent actions that can be taken to address the barriers to full implementation of the localisation agenda. 

Make adequate funds accessible: First and foremost, the need to make available more direct financing to local actors and responders was raised. It was overwhelmingly resounded that, those who are naturally at the fore front of the humanitarian and development challenges facing them, should be granted access to sufficient funds to lead efforts to address these challenges.  

Furthermore, in a study carried out by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), a good number of CSOs in the global south that participated in the study highlighted the need to enhance their commitments to release more funds directly to their organisations.  

If this clarion call is heeded to, it may require that more deliberate efforts are made to move beyond the one – two per cent shift in financial flows to  southern based actors. My worry however is that, if it took powerful institutions and countries over five years to achieve this below the belt feat (as opposed to the 25 per cent target), in how many years would we see veritable flows of resources that would reach a satisfactory level? 

Context matters: It was further highlighted that local actors should be actively involved in strategic decision-making moments and programming actions that concern them. ‘For localisation to be effective, communities must feel involved’, a participant noted. To achieve this, it is worth taking into account the proposals and cultural realities of communities. 

Transparency and accountability: It is important for stakeholders to be transparent and accountable with the finances they access and use for development and humanitarian causes. Although this recommendation is relevant for all stakeholders; both from the supply and demand sides, emphasis was particularly referenced to civil society organisations responding at the frontlines to humanitarian and development challenges. 

Research: Further to the above, there has been a critical need to make available more information pertaining to programmes within the development and humanitarian spheres, their status quo, challenges, successes and operational lessons. Such should be promoted by frontline actors. While some actors like the WACSI among others are at the fore front of such endeavours, it is important that more actors in West Africa should take ownership of, and lead processes aimed at documenting existing knowledge pertaining to the extent to which the localisation agenda is being realised. 

While the above-mentioned are critical, it remains obvious more needs to be done to ensure their full realisation, hence, palpable gains in the sector. This therefore calls for an urgent need to move from rhetoric to action with regards to ensuring that the localisation agenda exists as a veritable game-changer in the sector that revolutionalises the latter. 

While more efforts are being fed into the achievement of the above, civil society actors in the global south who are at the frontline of the gruesome humanitarian and development challenges are called upon to leverage the assets in their communities to the fullest. “Mobilise resources locally”, a participant at the online session emphatically noted. This is equally important because it will provide a gateway for resources to be generated locally to champion locally-led development efforts. It further aids in promoting ownership of such agendas and paves way for leadership. 

At this juncture, it is imperative for relevant actors to act more and overhaul the mind blocks and systemic barriers to the localisation agenda. To do this, stakeholders need to make more and adequate funds accessible to local actors, make use of contextual realities, be more transparent and accountable in resources deployed, and engage in relevant research. 

About the author

Jimm Chick Fomunjong is the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

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Jimm Chick Fomunjong

Jimm Chick Fomunjong is the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

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FIIFI BOATENG

Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.

NANCY KANKAM KUSI

Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.

AGNES ADWOA ANIMA

Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.

DORIS ODEI

Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.

PRINCE AKOWUAH

Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

MAXWELL APENTENG

Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.

GEORGE ADU-MINTAH

George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.

IBRAHIM KWAKU GBADAGO

Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.

RUTH YAKANA

Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

BETHEL KWAME BOATENG

Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.

WHITNAY SEGNONNA

Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.

STELLA YAWA WOWOUI

Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.

KWAME ASANTE

Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.

GRACE AKPENE ZIGGAH

Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.

LILLIAN DAFEAMEKPOR

Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.

JOHN P. FRINJUAH

John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.

GERVIN CHANASE

Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.

LEANDRE BANON

Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.

SAMUEL APPIAH

Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.

JIMM CHICK FOMUNJONG

Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.

FRANCK A. SOMBO

Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.

OMOLARA T. BALOGUN

Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.

KWABENA KRODUAH

Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.

CHARLES KOJO VANDYCK

Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.

NANA ASANTEWA AFADZINU

Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.