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West Africa Civil Society Institute Strengthening Civil Society

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From Politicians to Journalists not to mention Scholars, the concept “Civil Society” has been defined each according to his understanding of what it implies or should imply. No matter controversies carried by the concept, basically related to its implications and its cover fields, Civil Society has become an important part of development actors involved in the process of making and implementing development policies. Don Eberly4 will consider it as “the ultimate Third Way”.In Africa and specifically in West Africa, the role of Civil Society in development processes is convincing. Vis-à-vis overwhelming armed conflicts, increasing poverty rate, food crisis, and other social scourges, Civil Society Organisations have proved effective contributions in improving populations’ leaving conditions and bringing about peaceful and sustainable development.

Yet, outstanding challenges are considerable and require well trained CSOs which will be able to shape public life and effectively and efficiently influence policies.

It is in this respect that was created the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in 2005 by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). The core mandate of the Institute is to strengthen both Institutional and operational capacities of CSOs in the sub-region. WACSI, as a growing Institute, has gone through its way and after five years of effective operations the Institute seems to bear its name as a dedicated center for empowering West African CSOs.


African civil society organizations (CSOs) form a sector that has become increasingly important over the past few decades in terms of its participation in the development and governance processes. Civil society organizations (CSOs) in Africa and the world are at the forefront of calls for effective policies, good governance, sustainable development, peace and transparency in state affairs. The role of civil society is to bring people‟s concerns and make the voices of the marginalized heard in the social and political arenas.

Public agenda is shaped by the civil society which in turn influences public policies. CSOs are considered as more flexible, innovative, and cost effective than either government or aid agencies because they are poverty-oriented, grassroots focused, and are able to reach the most marginalized and affected segment of society easily, thus promoting the values of human rights, social justice, accountability that makes democracy and development meaningful. In addition, they hold governments and multi-lateral organizations to account for their policies, programmes and actions.

Next Generation Internship Report

Developing a succession plan is a strategic way of ensuring sustainability and continuity in any progressive organisation. As West Africa seeks to be the most stable socio-economic region in Africa, it needs avenues to develop and groom the next generation of leaders. These leaders should necessarily not be within the political sector but must be found in all fields of endeavour to sustain the developmental plan for the region. Therefore, in an attempt to help actualise this vision in West Africa, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), established by Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA), created the Next Generation Internship Programme. This programme seeks to train young actors and prepare them for the future roles as visionary leaders in the region.


In this report, I define civil society as consisting of community-based organizations, traditional leaders, implementing NGOs, unions, business associations, religious organizations, independent media, student groups, co-operatives, and other associational groups. Civil society's role in decentralised and democratic governance has four major functions:

-Representing and advocating for the diversity of community interests
-Delivering services in education, health and other social sectors
-Partnering with government in development planning and promoting understanding of decentralisation
-Acting as a watchdog over government


The Next Generation Internship Programme instituted by the West Africa Civil Society Institute aims at developing the skills of young Africans to fit into the civil society setup while contributing to revive the sector. During the second phase of my internship training in WACSI, I rendered my services in theTraining/Capacity Building and Policy Advocacy Units.

That is, assisted in organizing and coordinating activities for the Institute, specifically on the following programmes- Monitoring and Evaluation Training Workshop for CSOs in Sierra Leone, Policy Engagement and Advocacy for CSOs in West Africa, Results-Based Management Training Workshop for CSOs in West Africa and African Security and Governance Forum.


After completing my first degree in Philosophy, I have incessantly questioned and reflected on the tangible role of philosophy in the new corporate world order. At the time of my undergraduate studies, it was easy to jump onto the ‘bandwagon’ of philosophy students who have always prided themselves in the notion that they represented the greatest “think tanks”for designing creative policies, identifying lapses in judgment and probing codes of behavior.Yet, I felt empty after my university education. The road map that led me onto this academic journey appeared to be a dead end. My accounting, marketing and medical student colleagues could pin-point their relevance in concrete terms, such as balance sheets, advertising and surgery in any organization.

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