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Kobina: You asked how to fund CSO's in Africa from domestic resources.

The culture of CSOs and giving is not new in Africa. The churches, the mosgues have been involved with civil society issues since time immemorial. These institutions have been in the forefront of a lot of societal problems since colonial times and even though they received most financial supprt from overseas, they have enjoyed a lot of goodwill among the local population and poor people have willingly given monetary support in the form of tithes and weekly Sunday/friday prayer offerings. These institutions have hardly held placards to march down to State houses but have been as effective as ever in the civil causes  they championed.

 

Here's my point. CSos are an excellent phenomenom to champion hitherto causes and have been successful in most cases. It is the current wave of CSOs: the-in -your -face types that are raising eye brows across the continent. I will recall reading in the Ugandan Vision an article about a local MP who asked the CSOs out of his constituency to give chance to the locals to work on their farms as the farming seasons approached because,according to the MP, his people were spending more days at CSO seminars and meetings than on their farms.

 

I am not saying the CSOs must cut their own lifeline of external financial support. In order for them to be embraced by all, they must present themselves as advocates and PARTNERS with the authorities for finding solutions to the problems of the people they profess to support.

 

Publicly chewing up politicians, local authorities and some BIG men and women will create an unhealthy environment for their activities. RESPECT,especially from the younger generation for age and authority, should be the CSOs mantra ( at least on the continent) 

Eng. Ahmed Finoh

Durham, NC/USA 

@Ousmane: Can you share the main points of the agreement? Also, is there any movement within the KP to change the letter of the scheme to better deal with situations such as this that do no actually involve insurgent groups? 

 

@Ahmed: You raise an interesting point that is not discussed enough. I agree with you that the behind-the-scenes approach is a necessary tool. However, being that we are dealing with politicians in most cases, I believe that some public advocacy is also an important weapon to keep the electorate informed and engaged.

On the perception problem of external support, the reality is that in many African countries there isn't that broad-based culture of private donations to CSOs.  So what would you recommend as a sustainable way to fund organizations dedicated to giving voice to the voiceless? 

 

Ousmane wrote: "...civil society organizations can[not] justify active participation in the [KP] scheme."

 

They [CSOs] don't have to. Remember, CSOs are not legislative bodies. Remainder, CSOs are goodwill organizations supposing to advance the course of "public interests." Traditionally, CSOs have no inherent power to effect legislative processes. What CSOs have is the sympathetic ears of men and women of goodwill in the societies where they operate.

In order for CSOs to be effective and achieve their noble goals, they would have to change their tactics of engagement with the power that be. They must appreciate the ecology of the African politico-cultural environment. RESPECT is a very valued commodity verywhere on the continent, unlike in the West. First of all, CSOs are perceived as outside-supported groups, which is almost true. Secondly, CSOs most of the time assume an us-against-them stance in their advocacy. When such happens, local authorities and politicians dig in their heels. And in a society that values respect for age and positions, a lot of BIG  men and women take offence when they observe a group of youngmen and women talking down to them, no matter how right or justified their course is.

 

Therefore, CSOs must deploy the tactics of doing more work behind the scene, going from individual legislator to another, bringing them to their sides, one at a time. By the time you know you have a majority of BIG guys on your side supporting your course. SIMILAR TO WHAT LOBBYISTS OF ALL STRIPES DO HERE IN THE WEST.  Otherwise, your tasks will be a tall order, incessantly banging your heads against brick walls.

Eng. Ahmed Finoh

Durham.