Every successful organisation must learn to adapt to their context and adopt strategies that enable them to effectively respond to the constraints of their time. With the emerging digital trends, civil society organisations (CSOs) need to get acquainted with the demands of the current era to realise their goals.
Since COVID 19 broke out, it has become indispensable for CSOs in Cameroon to familiarise themselves with the new way of working, one reliant on digitisation.
However, CSOs in the country lag in catching up with the pace with which the mode of working quickly transformed; from a ‘mainly physical’ mode of working to a predominantly digital approach.
The challenges CSOs faced in their effort to adapt to this fast–changing environment was captured in findings gathered through a research conducted by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) with support from Wilde Ganzen to understand the impact of COVID-19 on CSOs.
According to findings of the research, “some of the CSOs did not have adequate resources to accommodate costs associated with working from home. For example, some could not afford the costs of salaries for staff whose projects were cancelled; they could not provide data to all staff, all staff did not have personal laptops, among others”, (WACSI, 2021).
This need was recurrent in six countries (Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia) in which the research was conducted in 2020. Hence, with the empirical evidence from the research, WACSI and TechSoup acknowledged the dire need to respond to this gap by providing laptops to CSOs in these countries.
With support from TechSoup, WACSI acquired 102 laptops for 40 CSOs in seven West African countries. The countries include Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.
On Saturday 13 March and Wednesday 17 March 2020, six laptops were handed to five CSOs from Cameroon with Value Health Africa receiving two laptops and the other four CSOs received one each.
The CSOs that received laptops include Value Health Africa (VAHA), Big Steps Outreach Network (BONET), Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW), Authentique Memorial Empowerment Foundation (AMEF) and the Association Aide aux Familles et Victimes des Migrations Clandestines (AFVMC).
The laptop donation to CSOs in Cameroon will contribute greatly to enhance the productivity of these organisations. It will equip the organisations to match up to the work pace as defined by the technological advancements accelerated by COVID-19.
Most of the organisations that received the laptops acknowledged the necessity to adapt their activities to suit the demands of a COVID-19 era which requires them to work from home.
According to Dr Sakah Bernard, Co–founder and Managing Director of Big Steps Outreach Network (BONET), receiving a laptop for the organisation is a timely response to a critical need of the organisation. His organisation hosted the laptop donation ceremony for four of the five organisations on 17 March at their office premises in Obili, Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon.
“We received the email notifying us that we are beneficiaries of a laptop when we just concluded an organisational assessment. The assessment exposed the urgent need of laptops for the organisation. We are happy this donation came at this time”, he said.
In a statement of appreciation from the organisation, the management of BONET notes that “We are extremely grateful for your generous donation of a brand-new HP Laptop to Big Steps Outreach Network (BONET) on Wednesday March 17th, 2021. We are deeply convinced that this laptop will greatly boost our work especially within the context of Covid-19 as well as our projects aimed at providing digital skills to women, girls, and youth. In fact, your kind gesture is very timely, addresses one of our major challenges as an organisation and we forever remain extremely grateful!”
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