Civil Society Actors Deliberate On Sustainability Of The Sector

Some civil society actors in Ghana and from other countries in the West Africa sub-region have converged in Accra, and in a workshop to brainstorm on how civil society organizations (CSOs) can be strengthened, thus ensuring sustainability of the civil society sector in Ghana and West Africa.

The one-day workshop organized by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), in partnership with the International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC), aimed at exploring mechanisms for sustainability, identifying priorities and developing initiatives for action on training, organizational development and research in the region and in other parts of the world.

Other objectives of the workshop were to enable dialogue between different stakeholders on sustainability and to take stock of issues and initiatives around sustainability in Ghana and the West Africa region, relating to research findings conducted by the two institutes – WASCI and INTRAC.

The research findings by WACSI, presented by the Head of Research, Isaac Hubert Arthur, revealed that the state of civil society sustainability in Ghana remains challenging with an overall score of 2.7 between a scale of 0-5, indicating a far from satisfaction.

The research established that funding was the major challenge threatening the sustainability of CSOS in Ghana and has led to most organizations striving to operate, while a few out of the over 4,000 registered CSOS are in operation.

He stated however that, in order to prevent the dying out of especially smaller non-governmental organizations (NGOs) leading developmental processes at the grass root level in the country, donor community and partners have put in place a funding mechanism to support their activities. An NGO, Strengthening Transparency Accountability and Responsiveness in Ghana (STAR-Ghana), was mentioned as one of the effective local donors.

Mr. Arthur said the data collection was done between December 2014 and January 2015; through blogs, expert interviews, and key informant including senior development practitioners.

The research recommended that the civil society organizations should find other ways of generating funds for their operations instead of relying fully on donor support, which when falls short, threaten their sustainability.

Adding that diversification of financial resources must be encouraged. This includes CSOs considering setting up profit-based subsidiary enterprises, experimenting with Diaspora philanthropy and partnership.

Mr. Arthur also recommended effective leadership and planning towards sustainability as key ways of civil society sustainability in Ghana.

The head of research of INTRAC, Dr. Rachel Hayman, presenting a research finding on the global perspective on CSOs sustainability in West Africa said sustainability can lead to improvement in political, governance and transparency system in the sub-region, as well as economic growth.

Therefore, she said civil society organizations need accessible, relevant and practical support to fulfil their mandate to the citizenry.

Dr. Hayman recommended that funders need to rethink how they can support the CSOs to enable sustainability; as well as the International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOS) which needs to improve how it supports its partners.

The executive Director of WACSI, Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, in an interview with journalists underscored the need for civil society organizations to be strengthened and sustained.

She said CSOs must be innovative, think and explore more areas of generating funds for their activities than just relying on donor support to operate.

“The effect of civil society cannot be down played…any country that has poor civil society representation, check their democracy, check their governance system, then you will see the importance of civil society sustainability,” Nana said.

The WACSI Executive Director called on government and all stakeholders to come on board in strengthening and sustaining civil society organizations in Ghana.

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