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West Africa Civil Society Institute Strengthening Civil Society

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Dr. Mohammed Arhin, co-author of the State of Civil Society Sustainability publication (photo: WACSI)

Dr. Mohammed Arhin, co-author of the State of Civil Society Sustainability publication

“We all knew funding was becoming a challenge, but we didn’t know that the intensity was that dire” – Dr. Arhin

Dr. Mohammed Arhin urges non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to invest in building their own capacity. He also encourages NGOs to be smart in generating funds both internally and externally. Additionally, he appeals to NGOs to focus on enhancing their visibility.

“We observed that many NGOs (non-governmental organisations) are doing very wonderful work but they remain quite obscured”, he observes.

Dr. Arhin was part of a team that carried out a nationwide research to understand the state of civil society organisations’ sustainability in Ghana. He says after interviewing several civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country, he was amazed at the resilience and optimism CSOs showed despite being faced by dire sustainability challenges. He attributes this challenge to emanate from dwindling donor funding among others.

“We all knew funding was becoming a challenge, but we didn’t know that the intensity was dire”, he says.

He adds that “as I listened to the NGOs, I realised that this is one issue that needs to be tackled for civil society to thrive”, referring to CSOs’ sustainability.

In addition to dwindling donor funding, the research findings show that the cost of operations is also a key factor that affects CSOs’ sustainability. Although some CSOS have funding, the high cost of offices and other operational costs drain their coffers. Dr. Arhin notes that other CSOs found it difficult to hire volunteers to support their work.

He encourages NGOs to invest in publicising their work using online platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn among others.

“They can use one minute to showcase the good things they have been doing. I think it will go a long way to help them achieve their sustainability”, he concludes.

The research was commissioned by WACSI with support from Star-Ghana. It is part of a long-term programme designed by WACSI to support CSOs in Ghana to respond to the threats to their sustainability.

“We have developed a long-term programme to promote the sustainability of CSOs. Civil society should come together and see this as a movement and a call to action”, says Mr. Charles Vandyck, head of the Capacity Development Unit of WACSI.

Gains from the programme will be replicated in other West African countries. To be a success, CSOs need to initiate actions that would enable them to become sustainable.

“CSOs need to commit, apply, run and own the process”, Mr. Vandyck affirms. 

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Resource Centre

The Institute has a resource centre that is open to civil society actors in the region. It serves as a library of civil society documents, research reports and edited volumes that are accessible to both individuals and organisations. The Institute has partnered the Foundation Centre to provide online learning resources and a database of grant giving institutions in the United States of America.

For more info please contact us: resourcecentre@wacsi.org.

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