[Accra – Ghana] 18 May 2022 – A resource hub dedicated to promoting an open civic space and regulatory compliance as well as strengthening civil society organisations (CSOs’) organisational governance and financial resilience has been launched in Ghana.
Dubbed the “Civic Space Resource Hub” (CSR-Hub), the five-year project which is supported by Ford Foundation will be facilitated by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and Spaces For Change (S4C). It will support CSOs in Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana to reinforce their digital security and data protection. The Hub will afford CSOs in these three countries with avenues and opportunities to enhance their knowledge capacity and build solidarity to address civic space challenges.
Speaking at the virtual launch held on Thursday 11 May 2022, Nana Afadzinu, Executive Director, WACSI, indicated that: “This is not a WACSI resource Hub, or S4C Hub, but a resource hub for all CSOs.”
She expressed worry about the inability for some CSOs to pursue their core mandates due to many constraints including lack of resources, unfavorable operating environment due to the socio-political restrictions they operate in.
“When civic space is restricted and constrained, social justice disappears, social accountability is absent, social protection fails, and people suffer,” she said.
She further noted that civic space in West Africa was under threat and was not only a cause of but also the result of democratic retrogression in the region. Recognising this, she said it was very crucial for necessary measures to be put in place to help savage the situation.
“The 2020 CIVICUS Monitor report shows that the civic space environment continues to worsen across the region and with the exception of Cape Verde, the civic space in most West African nation was either obstructed or repressed,” she observed.
The WACSI Executive Director also mentioned that the COVID-19 pandemic further enabled constraints on civic action and engagement with government’s abuse of power which exposed the vulnerabilities of civil society actors. All these, she explained, must be of great concern to social actors.
Afadzinu affirmed WACSI’s commitment towards the successful implementation of the project and expressed excitement about the partnership with S4C, the Ford Foundation, and other partners to 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,” she added.
On her part, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, Executive Director of S4C, speaking on the importance of the initiative, said: “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 CSR-Hub could not have come at a better time.”
With CSR-Hub, she said civil society actors and organisations would not only become more resilient, but also get the support they need to better respond to the governance, regulatory, digital and operational challenges they face.
In affirming the relevance of the CSR-Hub, Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima, Senior Programme Officer, Ford Foundation, urged CSOs to take advantage of the opportunity to build stronger synergy and solidarity.
“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 CSOs are facing resource and capacity constraints in the face of an ever-changing and dynamic context in which stronger solidarity and collaboration are urgently needed,” he said.
“We look forward to working with the WACSI, Spaces for Change (S4C) and other hub partners in this important initiative,” he added.
The CSR Hub would provide long term resource and support to enhance the capacity of CSOs working to expand civic space and reposition civil society actors in the countries to effectively respond to the emerging and longstanding challenges to civic freedom, enabling environment, democratic consolidation, and transformational social change.