Afadzinu at a press conference in Abuja announcing the establishment of WACSI in Nigeria said the move was an important milestone for the Institute.
According to her, the Institute began operations in 2007 with a mandate to strengthen civil society in West Africa to be responsive, collaborative, representative, resilient and influential through knowledge sharing, learning, connection and influence.
He said that with WACSI in Nigeria it would open up more opportunities for civil society in Nigeria.
“From a study commissioned by WACSI to determine the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on CSOs in Nigeria, it became clear that CSOs were significantly negatively affected.
“Of the 80 CSOs that participated in the survey, 38.4 percent reported having had funding cuts from major donors.
“However, 58.1% of CSOs were unable to raise any internal resources during the pandemic to supplement external donor funding; 55.8 percent of CSOs agreed that they did not have the capacity to mobilize internal resources.
“This revealed the fragility of the official sustainability of many CSOs in the country”.
Afadzinu said he also pointed to the pressing need for CSOs to look inward to reduce their dependence on foreign sources of support.
He said therefore, in the face of declining international support, it has become desirable to broaden the support base available and accessible to CSOs in the country to engage all Nigerians.
He said WACSI’s physical presence in Nigeria now meant that Nigerian CSOs could easily access its services and training to build their capacity so they could mobilize domestic resources and become sustainable.
He added that the pandemic also exposed the vulnerability of CSOs to digital security threats and technological capacity gaps that affect actors in the sector.
Afadzinu said that in response to the technological capacity gaps facing the country, the Institute, with the support of TechSoup Global, donated 14 laptops to six organizations, relevant software and training to enable their effective use.
She said it was a pilot project that was remarkably beneficial to the institutions that benefited from it, and based on the results, WACSI was looking for more opportunities to support civil society organizations in similar need.
“Civic space in Nigeria, like many other West African countries, is shrinking and creating an environment that impedes the effectiveness of civil society.
“With the support of the Ford Foundation, WACSI is implementing the Civic Space Resource Center in collaboration with Spaces for Change to provide the necessary resources for civil society actors to build their resilience and meet the challenges of civic space.”
Afadzinu said that the program targeted three West African countries, including Nigeria, adding that civil society actors in Nigeria were therefore key players in WACSI’s sphere of influence.
He said that Nigeria had a large number of civil society organizations in the country, consisting of approximately 46,000 non-governmental organizations and counting, in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Therefore, he said that given that number, it became clear to WACSI’s board and management that they needed to be more responsive to demands from civil society in Nigeria.
This, he said, necessitated the need to make the Institute’s services easily accessible and more affordable for civic actors in Nigeria.
Afadzinu said that the WACSI node would act as a liaison office and connect civil society organizations and their partners with the various service offerings provided by WACSI.
He added that these included training, mentoring, and coaching to build capacity in institutional governance, management, and operations of nonprofit organizations; And this is not limited to NGOs.
She said WACSI would work on resource challenges for civil society organizations with a focus on exploring alternative funding sources and strengthening local philanthropy.
He said that as a regional organization, WACSI’s long-standing commitment to ECOWAS would also be enhanced by its presence in Abuja.
“In addition to launching the WACSI Node, the Institute will also hold a technology event that will showcase what service offerings exist for civic actors in Nigeria.
“We are hopeful that WACSI’s Nigeria node will bring us even closer and strengthen our long-standing relationship.
`Together we will work to build a strong, influential, resilient and sustainable civil society sector in Nigeria, which can effectively contribute to the peace, security and prosperity of Nigeria and West Africa.
Source Credit: NAN