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23.02.2012 General News

Generate your own funds - Research Fellow urges Civil Society Organisations

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Accra, Feb. 23, GNA – Dr Seidu M. Alidu, a Research Fellow, has urged local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Networks to find means of generating their own funds to facilitate their programmes.

He said CSOs should encourage their members to pay their dues regularly, venture into consultancy services or could produce gift items and sell out to the public.

Dr Alidu said this when presenting a research paper on “CSO Networks and the Policy Process in Ghana” at the final workshop of the Civil Society Research Facility (CSRF) on the dynamics of civil society in Ghana organised in Accra on Thursday.

The CSRF on local civil society dynamics is a partnership between the Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research, (ISSER) University of Ghana, Legon and the Centre for International Development Studies, Nijmegen, Radboud University, Nijmegen, and The Netherlands.

The research programme was targeted at supporting short-term studies by researchers in Ghana with the aim to expand knowledge on local civil society dynamics, offer junior researchers a platform to jump start their academic career, and provide information that was relevant for policy and practice of development cooperation and civil society.

Dr Alidu said over dependence on donors would influence their output in terms of national policy arena and would cripple their activities when the funds delayed or stopped coming.

He appealed to them to elect transparent and credible leaders to change both government and public perceptions about their activities and endeavour to connect with CSOs at the heart of decision making to enhance their performance.

Dr Alidu said, notwithstanding the relatively favourable environment for CSOs operation in Ghana, it was still difficult for CSOs to constructively engage government in the policy arena and influence decisions in favour of their constituents.

He said the research sought to examine CSO networks in Ghana and specifically to ascertain the reasons behind their formation, challenges they faced in their effort to influence government policies and the various ways in which the identified challenges could be overcome.

Dr Alidu said the study revealed that networks had greater benefits compared to individual organisations when it comes to influencing government decisions, however, several challenges still remained in the networks attempt to influence decision-making in Ghana.

“The study reveals that CSO networks face two categories of challenges that affect their ability to influence policy in Ghana. These are internal and external challenges. In relation to the external challenges, 23 per cent of CSOs interviewed think government's perception of CSOs as their enemies coupled with inadequate resources and funding were their major challenges. Nineteen per cent of respondents argued that frequent changes in donor demands and lack of access to government policy information are among some of their most challenges,” he said.

He said internally, 22 per cent of organisations interviewed believed that competition for resources and funds among network members was a major challenge, and 13 per cent argued that low member participation in network activities militated against achieving network objectives.

“Also, 11 per cent of respondents identified ineffective coordination between network secretariats and their individual members as a serious challenge while eight per cent blamed lack of transparency and credible network leadership as the bane to their efforts to influence government policies,” he added.

Dr Alidu said despite those challenges the network formation had tremendously enabled CSOs in Ghana to constructively and methodologically engage government on policy issues through effort aggregation, resource and information sharing, and capacity building.

He said collaboration on those activities had greatly reduced the risk and cost of operating alone, and provided a united front on policy issues and had uplifted their image as a powerful institution worthy of government's engagement and called for efforts towards strengthening the operational ability of CSOs networks in relation to regular and adequate financing, effective collaboration with policy formulators and instituting relevant capacity building programmes.

Professor Lloyd G. Adu Amoah, Assistant Professor at Ashesi University College, said a democratised Ghana had reflected unprecedented political stability in the nation's post colonial history.

He said the era had been marked as well by the increasing influence on the international public policy framework on the Ghanaian context.

Presenting his paper on “Private Think Tanks, International Networks and Public Policy Formulation in Democratising Ghana (1980-2010): An Exploratory Interrogation, Prof Amoah said linked to all that was the emergence of privately operated think tanks that had become increasingly influential in public policy formation in Ghana at the national level.

“One of the key findings is that these privately operated Ghanaian think tanks seem to exhibit significant network embeddedness in global North transnational development networks which shapes in part their policy influence at the national level and frames an ongoing tussle for ideational hegemony among them."

Professor Dzodzi Tsikata, Coordinator of the programme, said the workshop was to present key findings of the research conducted and receive feedback from the participants and foster stronger links with CSOs.

She said seven researchers were contracted by CSRF – Ghana and its partners to conduct the research and assist CSO Networks in their activities.

Prof. Tsikata was grateful to the Dutch Government for sponsoring the project and looked forward for more cooperation in the future.

The CSRF projects are currently ongoing in Tanzania, Indonesia and Ghana with eight researchers in each country.


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