COVID-19 has exacerbated the existing challenges that West African civil society organisations (CSOs) normally face. Indeed, the global pandemic has aggravated the prevailing digital divide as lock-down measures began to be implemented and CSOs had to rely more on the Internet and digital tools to undergo their activities.
This has limited the efficiency of CSOs’ programmatic interventions, which had to be cancelled in some cases. It is true that some innovative initiatives centred around digital technologies and communications have emerged, notably to foster government's accountability in the management of COVID-19 funds such as Accountability Lab in Liberia. Yet, the majority of West African CSOs still have insufficient capacities to communicate, to connect and to build partnerships and this could come at higher cost during this crisis.
In this context, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) has been undergoing online half-day training on communication skills and strategies for CSOs in 18 countries in West and Central Africa registered on the West Africa Civil Society E-Directory. This bilingual online platform provides space for organisations from all ECOWAS member states as well as Cameroon, Chad and Mauritania, to establish networks and partnerships, share knowledge sharing and collect data on civil society’s work.
According to Perpetual Tindana, Project Coordinator, Civil Society E-Directory, “this training is important because [...] it aims at imparting organisations with innovative, robust and poignant skills that will enable them to effectively lead all communications processes in their organisations”.
Effectively and strategically communicating is a key skill in times of COVID-19, partly because of the growing need of CSOs to secure funding from international donors that have partly allocated resources to managing the pandemic in their countries.
On 5 June 2020, the Institute provided 36 CSOs in Ghana with skills and knowledge to effectively manage all internal and external communications within a non-profit organisational setting amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. CSOs were expected to gain the required skills to build and run robust communication systems, to manage a website and to effectively maximise their presence on the online directory platform.
According to Chamrid Kpadonou, Communication and Information Officer of WACSI, “this training is one of the numerous benefits CSOs registered on the E-Directory can gain from WACSI. [...] This training will enhance the ability of registered CSOs to make use of the directory platform as a key tool to promote their brand and disseminate their message.”
100% of participants were satisfied or very satisfied with the training. One participant explained the training has fulfilled his expectations. “I had expected to acquire some new knowledge on how to help some of my management team members improve their communication skills and this training covered a lot on that. It also gave guidelines on good writing and what is needed in each type of writing.”
Participants especially appreciated the methodology of the training. 85% of participants declared they found the methodology effective in relation to the discussions that were held, while 100% were content with the participatory nature of the training. Several participants commended WACSI for the training and recommended more training of this nature. “I suggest WACSI will come up with more of such training to help ensure the success of our work. Thanks to WACSI.”
Do you work for a CSO in West Africa? Do you want to benefit from such training? If yes, please register on our E-Directory platform here. If you have difficulty in registering, please watch this explanatory video or contact us at email@example.com or +233501440545 (WhatsApp).
Authored by: Ysé Auque-Pallez