COVID-19: How WACSI Supports CSOs’ Sustainability

COVID-19: How WACSI Supports CSOs’ Sustainability

The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has created a global health crisis that significantly affects citizen’s habits across the world. In the quest to stop its spread, governments across West Africa have enforced measures to reduce gatherings of large crowds, encourage the practice of social distancing and implement partial or total lockdown in the most affected cities. These measures significantly affect civil society’s operations in the region. In these critical days, more than ever, civil society’s efforts to support vulnerable communities, track and monitor government’s actions, protect citizens’ rights, are indispensable.

Civil society’s sustainability is a top priority on WACSI’s agenda, and now, more than ever, this sustainability is at risk. As an Institute aiming at strengthening civil society in West Africa, we remain committed to supporting civil society in these difficult times.

Combined with our efforts to leverage technology for the development of the region, we have been able to develop and make available the following unique set of programmes for civil society organisations (CSOs) including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in West Africa to continuously enhance their resilience in this time of crisis.

1- Technology Donation Programme (Access it for free at westafrica.techsoup.global)

The global pandemic has forced numerous organisations in the region to adopt a work from home policy. Even though some organisations (especially international non-governmental organisations) have had the infrastructure and policy needed for remote working, many smaller NGOs are struggling in this transition. The struggle originates partly from the lack of adequate practical knowledge in terms of the most suitable tools to adopt in these times. Also, there is a skills deficit on how to use the suite of tools in cases where some of these NGOs have access to these technological tools. However, a more critical challenge is evident as several NGOs in the region cannot afford available technological resources that can aide their work, especially amidst COVID-19.

To support CSOs in this domain, WACSI operates a technology donation program in partnership with TechSoup, which focuses on providing technology-related assistance to CSOs in West Africa. By registering on westafrica.techsoup.global, CSOs can access a wide range of technology donations as well as benefit from our expertise to be equipped to set up and use these products as applicable.

Given the complex and rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, CSOs need to speedily embrace an organisational transition in terms of adopting technology as part of their operations. This transition involves developing a culture within the organisation which maximises the benefits of technology while reducing its potential negative consequences.

Therefore, organisations need a culture shift and this shift needs to be implemented in a gradual manner. Through our capacity development interventions, we provide CSOs support on their journey to change. In addition to providing technology tools at an affordable price and assistance on the deployment of these tools, we provide organisational support to CSOs to support them through an efficient adoption of technology.

Organisations that have benefitted from technology enhancement support from WACSI are enjoying the fruits today; working seamlessly to achieve their organisational goals despite the devastating effects of COVID-19 on CSOs.

In October 2018, after benefitting from a project aiming supporting human rights organisation in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire to adopt technology, Doudou Lou Goore Corinne, Project Officer at RAIDH said, “We look at our organisation, and we’re dumbfounded by how much we have metamorphosed. We can attest to an increase in knowledge about the latest technological tools, and an expansion in our reach and audience. We can only attribute it to the training and support we received from the WACSI-OSIWA technology project.’’ The project was supported by OSIWA and the Open society Foundations.

2- Change the Game Academy Programme (Access it for free at changethegameacademy.org

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, resource mobilisation appeared as a serious challenge for CSOs in the region. This has become more evident in the heart of the crisis. With some donors suspending their programmes, small and community-based organisations are seeing their existence threatened.

In this regard, as part of the Change the Game Academy Programme, WACSI has been supporting CSOs in West Africa to conduct local fundraising activities as part of their resource mobilisation drive. The course gives a broad introduction to all key aspects of local fundraising and provides a solid basis to develop a local fundraising plan. This course is available for free on the Change the Game Academy Online Platform (changethegameacademy.org). In addition to the fundraising course, CSOs can benefit from an online course on mobilising support as well as numerous supplementary toolkits and templates. This course seeks to give a broad understanding of all key aspects of grassroots lobbying and advocacy. The high likelihood of an economic downturn post-COVID-19 and its possible effect on CSOs’ direct beneficiaries suggest a need for organisations to strengthen their ability to mobilise support toward their causes.

After taking part in the Mobilising support introductory course (November 2019) and the perfection course in Ghana (February 2020), Amadu Mohammed, Executive Director of Achievers Ghana, shares how his organisation is making use of the skills acquired.

“The mobilising support training has been of great support for my organisation, especially during these abnormal times. Thanks to the skills acquired, we were able to effectively sensitise our communities on the urgency of the situation and convinced them about the need to practice social distancing. Besides, we embarked on an emergency food relief program in the lockdown area of East and North Ayawaso (Accra Municipality). This programme consists in distributing food items to the needy and most vulnerable.

Thanks to the local fundraising course, we took for free on the online platform, we were able to identify and successfully engage key stakeholders to solicit for funds and in-kind donations. Up to 70 needy, old and aged people benefitted from the relief program. Food items such as rice, yams, cooking oil, tomatoes-paste and other ingredients, as well as Veronica buckets, liquid soaps, hand sanitizers, were distributed. Furthermore, a crucial tool we have been able to implement and utilise is our periodic newsletter. Thanks to the online course, we understood the importance of developing and sharing consistently updates on our work with carefully selected stakeholders via regular newsletters.”

3- Alternative Funding Models Guidebook for CSOs (Access it for free at bit.ly/AFMGEng)

In addition to fundraising activities, this crisis emphasises the need for CSOs to explore alternative funding models as a means to strengthen their financial sustainability. As a result of a partnership with Innovation for Change (I4C) – Africa Hub, WACSI developed a guidebook outlining 12 models CSOs can adopt to diversify their funding base.

The guidebook, available in French and English languages, aims to raise awareness, broaden the understanding of financial sustainability, promulgate best practices for the civil society sector in Africa and improve the practice of sustainability of CSOs.

CSOs can access it for free online and explore the existing models that are being used, understand them and know how to implement a given model that aligns with the mandate of their organisation. An organisation may consider organising internal learning sessions based on specific model and strategies on how to implement them during and after the crisis.

4- West Africa CSO E-Directory (Access it for free at csowestafrica.org)

Solidarity, partnership and unity among sectors and among civil society actors will be key in our ability to tackle the adverse consequences of the pandemic. The West Africa CSO E-Directory is one of the key platforms that facilitate collaboration among actors in the region.

It serves as a one-stop-shop for CSOs in West Africa. Also, active CSOs on the platform benefit from regular free online training in critical areas to enhance their organisational effectiveness. A dedicated newsletter of opportunities is also shared on a monthly basis. In addition, most active organisations benefit from a set of rewards which tremendously enhance their visibility. The platform is accessible for free and is available in French and English.

In a nutshell, civil society in West Africa as a sector, in the way it operates, will observe significant change as a result of this pandemic. Now more than ever, we need to, in a proactive manner, take measures to adapt our current modus operandi to the realities we will be facing. Such adaptation process involves continuously developing our capacities.

The current set of programmes offered by WACSI can be the first step in this journey to evolve.

About the author

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Chamrid has a strong experience in designing and implementing advocacy campaigns for the protection of human rights, documenting civic space issues and conducting capacity building interventions for civil society actors. He holds an MBA in Project Management and is a 2016 fellow of the West Africa Executive Course on Human Right and Drug Policy. Chamrid is bilingual and passionate about graphic design, storytelling, and UI/ UX design. He is a certified IFC-LPI trainer.

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Chamrid Kapdonou

Chamrid has a strong experience in designing and implementing advocacy campaigns for the protection of human rights, documenting civic space issues and conducting capacity building interventions for civil society actors. He holds an MBA in Project Management and is a 2016 fellow of the West Africa Executive Course on Human Right and Drug Policy. Chamrid is bilingual and passionate about graphic design, storytelling, and UI/ UX design. He is a certified IFC-LPI trainer.

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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 10 years progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa. She joined WACSI in November 2009 as an Advocacy Consultant. And later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer in 2010 and Head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy unit in 2015. As head, she offers strategic direction to the institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organized 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.


Previously, Omolara 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. She also served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa where she teamed up to design and implement two programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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.