Consultations with Civil Society in Niger – A courtesy visit to Coalition of Nigerien Organizations for the Rights of the Child (CONIDE)

Consultations with Civil Society in Niger – A courtesy visit to Coalition of Nigerien Organizations for the Rights of the Child (CONIDE)

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[Niamey, Niger] 17 March 2022 — The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) concluded a successful 3-day capacity building training for young civil society actors on effective advocacy for open civic space and civic engagement in Niger. While in Niger, WACSI team including Omolara Balogun, Head, Policy Influencing and Advocacy Unit and John Frinjuah, Programme Officer, Policy Influencing and Advocacy Unit of the institute as part of their CSO consultations visited the Coalition des Organisations Nigériennes des Droits de l’Enfant (CONIDE).  The team was warmly welcomed by the President of CONIDE, Mr. Sidikou Moussa, and the staff of the organisation.

WACSI team visits CONIDE in Niamey, Niger

During the visit, the two organisations discussed the debilitating context of the Sahel. The President of CONIDE asserted that the civic space environment in Niger has gotten worse. He cited a recent law passed early this year in the country that bars the creation of new NGOs unless they belong first to an association. He said ‘beyond just the new law, the state has also made it cumbersome for NGOs to acquire or renew their licenses. These new attempts at regulating NGOs apparently are made in the guise of security needs and international compliance with anti-terrorist financing and money laundering’.

WACSI team with President of CONIDE

The two organisations also discussed youth as an important demographic for the development and stability of the region. It was overwhelmingly acknowledged that there is need for a significant investment in the youth in the areas of civic engagement, policy advocacy and analysis and, coalition and solidarity building. Ms Balogun reiterated the need to be more deliberate in our effort to shape the mindsets of the youth to better protect and safeguard civic space and democracy in the region. Mr Sidikou, said ‘it is equally important to link civic development to youth entrepreneurial skills for self-reliance and to create more jobs. Because, an important reason for the lackadaisical attitude of the youth to the reality of closing civic space and deteriorating democratic space, for instance, is the fact that most youth are not gainfully employed, and are therefore susceptible to violent extremism, anti-democracy ideologies or outright apathy towards the ideals of democracy.

He went ahead to share an impressive programme where CONIDE trains young men and women on livelihood skills, and support their growth after their training. Some of these livelihood empowerment training areas included agriculture and livestock farming, block moulding, building and construction, catering–mostly in partnership with donor entities and government agencies.

In addition, the two partners reflected on their significant experience working on women rights and related issues in Niger, and acknowledged that there are still critical areas requiring efforts to scale up. Mr Sidikou said, “WACSI’s capacity building intervention for organisations and national networks working on ending child marriage has enhanced the organisation of women’s groups, and increased their numbers exponentially. However, as their numbers grow, so are their needs, especially in areas such as network building, advocacy, and stakeholder engagement”. There is also a need to scale the efforts to connect women’s organisation at the national level to the ones operating at the grassroots, to facilitate learning, exchanges, and strengthen the base of advocacy for national gender equality.

During the meeting, the WACSI team had the opportunity to learn about the impressive resource mobilisation and sustainability strategy of CONIDE that is worth sharing for others to emulate. With the support of donor and domestic resourcing effort, CONIDE acquired a huge office complex about 8 years ago. The office complex has been a source of income generation, and has enhanced the organisations’ financial resilience in an era of dwindling donor funding. In effort to further sustain the vision and mission of the organisation, CONIDE acquired a large farm land to produce foodstuffs used for catering services for all events held within its premises. ‘In the near future, part of the farmland would have buildings to serve as a training and retreat centre to host many trainees from across the country. This will save costs, and shore up the finances of the organisation’, says Mr. Sidokou.

WACSI team with the President of CONIDE, Sidikou Moussa at the organisation’s farm

Both organisations explored opportunities to further strengthen their collaboration, discussed areas of mutual interest and pertinent issues and challenges to tackle in Niger (and indeed, in the Sahel.) including enabling environment for civic operations, CSO legislations and regulatory compliance, youth capacity development in democratic governance, civic space, gender equality, social accountability, advocacy and coalition building.


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


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


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


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 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 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 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.


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 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 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, 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 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, 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 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 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 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 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 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.