CSOs in West Africa were Severely Hit by COVID-19 – Research Reveals

CSOs in West Africa were Severely Hit by COVID-19 – Research Reveals

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In March 2020, the world was plunged into a state of shock and dismay by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The pandemic affected every aspect of human life, ranging from the individual level to the organisational level. Civil society organisations (CSOs) in West Africa suffered to the extent of not being able to embark on the projects earmarked for a significant part of the year. Some could not pay the salaries of their staff; several of them could not work under the hazardous condition posed by the virus.  

  To fully understand the effects of the pandemic on CSOs, the West Africa civil society Institute (WACSI) through, the support of Wilde Ganzen, in collaboration with six renowned researchers-initiated research on the effect of Covid-19 on the operations of CSOs in GhanaCameroonLiberiaSierra LeoneNigeria, and The Gambia, respectively.  

  Due to the complexity of the pandemic, the researchers employed quantitative and qualitative research methodologies like interviews, focus group discussions and survey. After months of engagements, the Institute produced six countries-specific reports that subsequently were made available on the West Africa civil society Institute’s website wacsi.org on 30 March 2021, which are currently helping CSOs, donors, policymakers, and governments across the region. 

  As a leading knowledge hub within the civic space in West Africa, the Institute, on 14 April 2021, held a webinar to discuss the content of all six reports. The session enabled the six researchers to elaborate on the findings and explain key Recommendations therein.  

The researchers for this project include Dr Gbemisola Abdul-Jelil Animasawun researcher -Nigeria, Issa Bangura researcher -Sierra Leone, S. Aaron Weah-Weah, III researcher -Liberia, Dr Ismaila Ceesay researcher-The Gambia, and Dr Odette kibu, researcher- Cameroon.  

While moderating the Webinar, Jimm Chick Fomunjong, the Head of Knowledge Management and Communication Unit, explained the need for this all-important webinar. In articulating his point, he said, ‘’WACSI will continue to put in place measures to promote CSOs sustainability’’ 

 He mentioned that the just-ended hardware donation programme rolled out by the Institute was informed by the findings in the research.   

Speaking at the session, Dr Odette Kibu, researcher for Cameroon, stressed that although the COVID19 has affected the informal sector and the economy in general, its impacts on CSOs in Cameroon is devastating.  

The survey revealed that CSOs in Cameroon are not getting funds from their donors anymore,” she said. 

Dr Odette further revealed that most CSOs had to reduce their staff capacity to be able to pay their salaries. She, however, charged stakeholders to adopt the recommendations as put forth by the report. In her view, that is the surest way CSOs can outlive the impact of the pandemic. 

Dr Solomon Kofi Amoah, researcher for Ghana, on the other hand, considers his encounter with the CSOs during the research as an eye-opener and revealing. Specifically speaking to the Ghana situation, he said a staggering number of 83 per cent of CSOs (respondentsfared badly to the harsh conditions posed by the pandemic’’.  

However, explaining the Liberia report, S. Aaron Weah-Weah, III said, “The findings of our survey revealed that all CSOs in Liberia who participated were significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Their operations and programming were halted or dwindled’’.    

The six renowned researchers took turns to thank WACSI and Wilde Ganzen for the opportunity. They charged stakeholders to explore and adopt the recommendations and other strategies that could contribute to strengthening CSOs resilience beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.   

After the event, participants were full of praise one had this to say, ‘’We are grateful to WACSI and Wilde Ganzen for the COVID-19 report. More importantly, the session has given us more insights into the impact of the pandemic. The recommendations will help both donors and CSOs moving forward. She gladly stated.  


 Access all six reports using the following links. 

Cameroon: https://bit.ly/3frl1ls   

Ghana: https://bit.ly/3uaF2RI  

Liberia: https://bit.ly/3m3y3aj  

Nigeria: https://bit.ly/3sEmqJ8 

Sierra Leone: https://bit.ly/3cDFlhY 

The Gambia: https://bit.ly/3ulBJqX 

About the author

Robert Oppong is a Ghanaian. He holds Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a speciality in Development Communication. He is a gender and a social activist with great knowledge in participatory communication, international governance and development.


Robert Oppong

Robert Oppong is a Ghanaian. He holds Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a speciality in Development Communication. He is a gender and a social activist with great knowledge in participatory communication, international governance and development.

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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.