The year 2020 marked a turning point for many civil society organisations (CSOs) in West Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic affected the performance of these organisations in diverse ways, making it difficult for most of them to remain effective. The need to stay relevant pushed some organisations into forming partnerships and networks with more stable organisations to enhance growth.
The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in partnership with the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) concurrently carried out a two-week face to face capacity strengthening training in Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone between 17 and 25 May 2021. The training was geared towards enhancing the effectiveness of 11 organisations: six in Cote d’Ivoire and five in Sierra Leone.
The training forms part of the two-year project entitled: Strengthening CSOs’ Capacities for Effective Stakeholder Engagement in Biodiversity Conservation, funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). The project in January 2020 and will be implemented for two years. It seeks to strengthen the institutional and organisational capacities of CSOs working in the field of biodiversity conservation in Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea.
The operational training was spread over two different modules: (1) Introduction to Advocacy and Communication and (2) Financial Management. In the framework to cover all aspects related to the modules, each training module was subdivided into four sessions over four days.
This training module on Introduction to Advocacy and Communication was tailored to respond to the policy influencing and communication capacity gaps identified among the selected organisations. The course introduced participants to key concepts on policy advocacy and engagement. Participants were also exposed to relevant laws and policies on biodiversity and conservation and their implementation, especially at local and sub-national levels. The course will enable beneficiary organisations to mobilise the required support towards the achievement of their mission and to hold duty bearers accountable at the local/district level.
On Monday 24 May 2021, the teams embarked on the 4-day financial management training respectively in both countries (Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone).
This training enabled participating organisations to take effective actions to ensure that their limited resources are used effectively while implementing programmes. The training looked at the essential financial management procedures, financial accountability and control mechanisms that are paramount to effective operational management and helped them to maintain budgetary control in line with an organisation’s financial management procedures.
It further provided participants with effective resource management strategies and techniques and built their confidence in managing and reporting on institutional donor grants to meet donors’ financial terms and conditions. The training targeted finance staff and project teams of the participating organisations.
At the end of the session, certificates were handed to participants. 87% of the participants testified that the training had helped to enhance their knowledge and skills in the different domains.
“We have been doing a very good work in the communities except around advocacy. How to communicate the impacts had been a problem for us but now with the knowledge acquired from this training we will use it to communicate the impacts gained from our implementation”, a participant from Sierra Leone shared in the daily feedback form – a daily monitoring tool used by WACSI to assess the training as it happens
A participant from Cote d’Ivoire also commended the training. “The training content helps to understand the essential elements of internal control and budgeting. The section was punctuated by practical cases and good moments of exchange and sharing of experiences,” the participant said.
WACSI’s team will be visiting Guinea in the weeks ahead to organise the same capacity enhancing activities for 6 organisations in the country.
“The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank. Their fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.”