The civil society sector has been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby reducing civil society organisation’s (CSO) capacity to effectively implement their activities and reach targeted vulnerable communities. As lock-down measures have been put in place, CSOs have had to reduce, postpone or even cancel their programmatic interventions.
However, West African CSOs have also intensified their efforts in flattening the curve of the pandemic particularly through information and communications technology (ICT) activities. Because they have access to communities that donors and governments have difficulty to reach, they have been essential in complementing governments’ COVID-19 national responses. CSOs like TY Danjuma Foundation in Nigeria have been involved in awareness raising around COVID-19 preventive measures, signs and symptoms by regularly publishing updates and informative messages on social media. SEND Ghana, Penplusbytes and YIAGA Nigeria among others have also initiated leading online citizen monitoring initiatives to promote transparency, responsiveness and accountability of West African governments COVID-19 response.
Yet, the technology and communication gap has also been exacerbated by the COVID-19. While several CSOs have succeeded in diverting their activities online, a high proportion of West African CSOs have limited capacities to use digital technology and ICTs. Their insufficient ability to communicate the impact of their work prevents key stakeholders to know about their activities during COVID-19.
In this context, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) has been undergoing online half-day trainings on communication skills and strategies for CSOs in 18 countries in West and Central Africa registered on the West Africa Civil Society E-Directory.
On 8 May 2020, the Institute provided 33 CSOs in Côte d'Ivoire and Cape Verde with skills and knowledge to effectively manage all internal and external communications within a non-profit organisational setting amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
This interactive online training aimed at equipping participants in knowledge and skills to develop practical communication strategies, to write impactful stories of their work and to use the West Africa Civil Society E-Directory to communicate their organisation's impact. 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 Tindiana, Project Coordinator, Civil Society E-Directory, “[this training] is important because it provides CSOs with the opportunity to communicate their core messages whiles boosting their visibility. Organisations often seek to strategically attract the interest of supporters and win the understanding and confidence of supportive stakeholders, as such, coining their key messages in a rightful manner enhances their engagement”.
94% participants in the training reckoned that they were satisfied or very satisfied by the training. According to one participant, “this training allowed me to better understand the difference between the communication means and channels, as well as the tools of communication tools. It also enabled us to strengthen our communication messages to better adapt them to our different targets”.
The training’s methodology was also very much appreciated: “the training had a participatory and dynamic methodology with enriching exchanges. The slides were well presented, and the explanation was of high quality”, another participant explained.
Do you want to benefit from such trainings? 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or +233501440545.
Authored by: Ysé Auque-Pallez