16 May 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Omolara Balogun, Head, Policy Influencing and Advocacy Unit (WACSI)
Contact: Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Executive Director, Spaces for Change (S4C)
LAUNCH OF THE CIVIC SPACE RESOURCE HUB – (CSR-Hub) FOR CSOs IN WEST AFRICA
Civic space in West Africa is under threat! It is not only a cause of but also the result of democratic retrogression in the region. The 2020 CIVICUS Monitor report shows that the civic space environment continues to worsen across the region. With the exception of Cape Verde, the civic space in most West African nations is either obstructed or repressed. The COVID 19 pandemic further enabled constraints on civic action and engagement with government abuse of power and exposed the vulnerabilities of civil society actors. According to Nana Afadzinu, Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), “When civic space is restricted and constrained, social justice disappears, social accountability is absent, social protection fails, and people suffer”.
WACSI and Spaces for Change (S4C), with support from the Ford Foundation, launched, 12 May, 2022, the “Civic Space Resource Hub (CSR-Hub)”, a five-year programme that will seek
to promote open civic space and regulatory compliance, strengthen CSOs’ organisational governance and financial resilience, and support CSOs to reinforce their digital security and
data protection, enhance their knowledge capacity and build solidarity to address civic space challenges.
Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Executive Director of S4C reiterates the critical importance of this initiative. “At a time when governments in West Africa are increasingly drifting towards
authoritarianism and tightening the operating environment for civil society, the establishment of the West Africa Civic Space Resource Hub (CSR-Hub) could not have come
at a better time. With CSR-Hub, civil society actors and organisations will not only become more resilient, but also get the support that they need to better respond to the governance,
regulatory, digital and operational challenges that they face,” she says.
In affirming the relevance of the CSR-Hub, Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima, Senior Program Officer, Ford Foundation urges CSOs to take advantage of the opportunity to build stronger synergy and solidarity. He says, “We are very pleased to see the West Africa Civic Space Resource Hub come to fruition. The timing could not be better, especially given that civil society organisations are facing resource and capacity constraints in the face of an everchanging and dynamic context in which stronger solidarity and collaboration are urgently needed. We look forward to working with the West Africa Civil Society Institute, Spaces for Change and other hub partners in this important initiative.”
The CSR-Hub will provide long term resource and support to enhance the capacity of CSOs working to expand civic space and reposition civil society actors in these countries to
effectively respond to the emerging and longstanding challenges to civic freedom, enabling environment, democratic consolidation and transformational social change.
Highlighting the collaborative ethos of this programme, Nana Afadzinu states that “WACSI is delighted to partner S4C, and the Ford Foundation, and together with other partners,
strengthen and enhance civic space and civil society within West Africa, beginning with Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal through the Civil Society Resource Hub (CSR-Hub). In solidarity we’ll work for, fight for, and protect civic space for the West Africa we want –peaceful, just, inclusive, and prosperous!”
WACSI / S4C