The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), since its establishment in 2007 has provided consistent support to civil society organisations (CSOs) in West Africa and beyond in the areas of women and youth leadership, civil society sustainability, technology for development, and institutional and operational capacity development to boost the effectiveness of civil society organisations (CSOs).
In line with the Institute’s commitment to respond to the capacity needs of CSOs, 14 civil society organisations (CSOs) in Ghana have received 42 brand new HP laptops from WACSI as part of the WACSI-TechSoup hardware donation initiative.
The laptop donation initiative comes in response to a critical need identified through a research conducted by WACSI in 2020 with support from Wilde Ganzen.
The research sought to understand how COVID-19 affected CSOs in six out of seven countries that benefited from this initiative, including Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, and The Gambia. Though the research did not cover Benin, there was the need to support organisations in Benin.
During the research, it came to light that CSOs in these West African countries had a dire need for technological tools to continue engaging with their stakeholders under the restrictive conditions imposed by the pandemic. One of the organisations that participated in the research recounted how their staff had to use their phones to conduct virtual meetings. Several CSOs complained that as a result of the pandemic, they were unable to go to their offices due to the restrictions instituted by the government of Ghana. Speaking at a brief handing over ceremony at the conference hall of WACSI on 31 March 2021, Katherine Adarkwa, Head, Administration at WACSI said, “Internet connectivity and technology, in general, have become an integral part of the smooth running of CSOs, particularly where health experts have advised citizens to limit physical contact”.
Hence, the need to acquire responsive technological facilities was paramount for CSOs in Ghana. Also, they expressed the need to build their staff capacity as many of their organisations are adopting remote working approaches due to COVID-19. The 14 CSOs who received the 42 laptops in Ghana include Bless Jet Foundation, Centre for Capacity Improvement for the Wellbeing of the Vulnerable (CIWED), Centre for Communities Education and Youth Development, Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations-Eastern Region, Global Women Development Promoters, Gideon Agenyegah Dream Ventures, NewsBridge Africa, Norsaac, North Eastern Corridor Integrated Development Agency (NECIDA), Rural Initiatives Ghana Foundation, Safe-Child Advocacy, Support Services Foundation, Tele-Bere VSL Association (Tele-Bere) and Urban Poor Child Organisation.
These 14 CSOs are among the 42 organisations from seven West African countries that received 102 laptops during the hardware donation initiative.
Explaining the purpose of the donation, Franck Sombo Head, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) unit at WACSI who led this donation initiative said ”Due to the lockdown measures instituted by our various governments, we could no longer meet face-to-face in our offices; meaning our daily lives could no longer be the same. Therefore, something needed to be done”.
On that note, he expressed gratitude on behalf of WACSI to TechSoup and Wilde Ganzen for the support. He bemoaned that the target was to help many more organisations but due to limited funds 42 CSOs from seven countries could benefit from this support. He however remained optimistic that this initiative will continue.
Franck appealed to donors to support such a great initiative; one that relieves CSOs of a key challenge that mars their operational effectiveness.
Victoria Norgbe, the Executive Director, Global Women Development Promoters (GLODEC), while receiving the laptops on behalf of GLODEC said, ”working with WACSI has helped to legitimise and improve GLODEC immensely. Through our work with WACSI, we have been able to attract support from the French Embassy. This has enabled us to work closely with the French Embassy”.
”We want to say a special thank you to the West Africa Civil society Institute (WACSI) for today’s gesture of presenting laptops to us. This is going to boost our job especially our database which will help us to monitor and keep track of all our activities,” Norgbe added.