The state of civil society sustainability in Ghana remains challenging. This is a key outcome of the research on the State of Civil Society’s Sustainability in Ghana. “Sustainability is an issue that is at stake when it comes to civil society [organisations]. Some of the challenges are connected to the over-dependence on funding, especially foreign funding”, affirms Sister Olivia Omor, Director of Street Children Project of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi..
“CSOs need to ensure that their operations are innovative and responsive to the needs of their beneficiaries. This would boost their legitimacy among their constituents and enable them to be sustainable”, she added.
30 CSOs from the Upper West, Upper East, and northern regions convened in Tamale from 17 – 18 September 2018, whilst 28 CSOs from the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions convened in Kumasi from 19 – 20 September 2018.
In both meetings, the CSOs agreed on the need to develop a national sustainability strategy that would be meticulously implemented to ensure that the civil society sector exists indefinitely as a robust entity within the Ghanaian society that contributes to driving positive social change.
The CSOs proposed long-term goals that will inform the national strategy; recommending that capacity building should be a continuous process to allow CSOs to acquire the needed skills to be operationally efficient. They also emphasised the need to collaborate with one another to leverage each other’s strengths.
Additionally, they highlighted the need for CSOs to develop a national regulatory framework for all CSOs in the country. They also agreed to take actions to enhance their capacity and raise the visibility of their organisations as a means of attaining sustainability.
Ms Rosemeda Donkor of the African Assistance Plan based in Sunyani believes that CSOs need to have a better appreciation of the needs and desires of their beneficiaries. CSOs also need to understand the expectations of communities and collaborate with them to address the challenges communities face as opposed to ‘dumping’ solutions on them.
“If we can equip ourselves with such knowledge, I believe we can do so much with little resources. And communities will be better off because they will grow [in knowledge and capacity to respond to future challenges that may emerge]”, she says.
Sister Omor who was a participant in the convening in Kumasi calls on CSOs to mobilise stakeholders (government, the private sector, individual philanthropists and communities) to support their good causes. “If they support us, there will be sustainability”, she said.
For years there have been calls for an urgent action by stakeholders to devise innovative approaches to secure civil society’s existence, relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency in the country.
Star Ghana, a multi-donor funding pool, in partnership with the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) have committed to support civil society organisations (CSOs) in Ghana to identify feasible means of becoming sustainable.
Both organisations convened CSOs from five regions of Ghana to explore approaches that could lead to a sustainable civil society sector
Ms Teiko Sabah, Head of Programmes at Star Ghana emphasised on the importance of these meetings, explaining that it is important for CSOs to be at the heart of the discussions, sharing ideas and building strategies that would be implemented to guarantee the sustainability of the civil society sector. This, to her, is critical in such trying moments when funding is dwindling and aid agencies are reviewing and or withdrawing their support from the sector in Ghana.