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Practitioners Perspective




Practitioners Perspective

La Perspective des Praticiens

A Regional Research Commissioned by


With support from

Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)

Copyright WACSI 2015Civil Society and Development in West Africa:

Practitioners Perspective

External ReviewerBenjamin Olagboye

Technical SupportCharles Kojo Vandyck Head, Capacity Development

Isaac Hubert Athur Head, Knowledge Management

Titilope Mamattah Former Research & Documentation Officer

Franck Arthur Sombo Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

Jimm Chick Fomunjong Head, Communication and Information

Harrison Owusu Boakye Project Officer

Bela Kouakou Emile Former Intern

Olalekan Michael Aina Former Intern

Anna-Riikka Kauppinen Former Intern

Civil Society and Development in West Africa:

Practitioners Perspective

Copyright WACSI 2015 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the institute except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, write to:

West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)

No. 9, Bingo Street, East Legon

P. O. Box AT 1956, Achimota

Accra, Ghana


Tel: +233 (0) 303 937 264

Cite as: WACSI (2015) Civil Society and Development in West Africa: Practitioners Perspective. Accra, Ghana.

Disclaimers:WACSI accepts no responsibility for suitability of any materials submitted by the contributors of this publication. WACSI assumes no responsibility or liability for errors or inaccuracies. Contributors accept all responsibility for opinions expressed. Use of this research report constitutes acceptance and understanding of these disclaimers.

ISBN 978-9988-1-7777-5

Designed and printed by Pigment Company Limited

In West Africa, CSOs have evolved and gained important recognition in public policy debates and contribution to democratic development. Civil society has contributed in varied ways to good governance and socio-economic development. Specifically, CSOs have intervened in elections and governance processes, conflict prevention and management, humanitarian crisis, health and sanitation challenges (Ebola outbreak in the region).

Even though CSOs are contributing significantly to development, very little has been highlighted and documented to demonstrate their achievements and contributions to the regions development.

This research report seeks to present a potpourri of existing and emerging issues on civil societys contribution to development in West Africa. Its sixteen chapters are each written by civil society practitioners actively working in the field and represent perspectives of all the fifteen countries. The book has two main objectives: to identify, gather, document, and share civil societys contribution to development as well as effectively use the evidence to shape public policy making in the region. The main priority is to present evidence that strongly reflects issues on the ground that would challenge preconceptions, while still maintaining a relevance to public policy and practice. What the authors have done is to individually capture the historical evolution of civil society, its contributions to development and propose concepts that will frame the development discourse in West Africa.

The overall aim of this research report is to move forward the documentation of the contributions of civil society to development across the region. It also seeks to open up the space for continuous discussions by showing the intrinsic value of civil society, using evidence drawn from each of the fifteen countries focusing on contributions to good governance, democracy, and sustainable development.



WACSIThe West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) was created by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to reinforce the institutional and operational capacities of civil society in the region. WACSI also serves as a resource centre for training, research and documentation, experience sharing and political dialogue for CSOs in West Africa.

VisionWACSI envisions a West Africa of efficient, effective, and influential civil society functioning as strategic partners for democracy, good governance and sustainable national development.

MissionWACSI is a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to strengthen the institutional and operational capacities of civil society organisations through capacity strengthening programmes for increased and effective policy engagement, and the promotion of development, good governance and democratic values in West Africa.

OSIWA OSIWA plays a dual role in the region as both an advocate and grant-maker by enabling itself to be agenda-setters both within and alongside other organizations working on the ground. The Foundation works through a unique combination of grant making, advocacy, partnership building and technical assistance.

For example, we help support the production of publications and research studies; run advocacy campaigns using creative means; and provide institutional support to partners on the ground. While most funders either tend to focus exclusively on civil society or governmental institutions, OSIWA has carved its niche through a two-pronged strategic focus: strengthening both democratic institutions and structures and civic participation in decision-making. There are several areas where, over the years, OSIWA has produced strong results.



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTThis publication on Civil Society and Development in West Africa has travelled a lengthy course and WACSI is indebted to many for their patience, dedication and tireless efforts towards this endeavor.

The first bouquet of appreciation goes to the sixteen authors: Ebenezer Obadare (background, Nigeria); Gustave Assah (Benin); Coulibaly Siaka (Burkina Faso); Evora Iolanda & Suzano Costa (Cape Verde); Traore Wodjofini (Cote dIvoire); Madi Jobarteh (Gambia); Raymond Atuguba (Ghana); Oumar Baldet (Guinea); Miguel De Barros (Guinea-Bissau); Jasper Cummeh & Eddie Jarwolo (Liberia); Abdou Togola (Madi); Alou Mahaman Tidjani (Niger); Oka Obono (Nigeria); Ibrahima Aidara (Senegal); Aisha Fofana Ibrahim & Nemata Majek-Walker (Sierra Leone); and Lucky Antoinette Mbrou (Togo), from all the 15 ECOWAS member states for staying with WACSI through this journey and inspite of some bumps along the way, patiently working with the team to birth this publication. Appreciation also goes to Anna-Riika Kauppinen, former WACSI intern, for her insightful contributions in the early days of conceptualisation; to Benjamin Olagboye (External Reviewer), for his contribution in reviewing the first drafts from the authors; to Titilope Adjaye-Mamattah (former WACSI Research and Documentation Officer) for her editing contributions, and to the WACSI team: Charles Vandyck (Head, Capacty Development, WACSI); Franck Sombo (Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, WACSI); and Isaac Hubert Arthur (Head, Knowledge Management, WACSI); for their tenacity and hard work in ensuring that this publication, that speaks out of the practice of civil society actors on the role of the sector in development in all the 15 ECOWAS member states, becomes a reality.

Finally, to the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), that provided the financial support for this publication, WACSI acknowledges and is grateful for their continuous support and partnership that has inured to the benefit of civil society in the sub region.

To you all, Ayekoo (well done), and accept WACSIs heartfelt gratitude.

Nana Asantewaa Afadzinu,

Executive Director



Ebenezer Obadare (Introduction) is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Kansas, edited The Handbook of Civil Society in Africa (Springer, 2014). His next book, Humor, Silence and Civil Society in Nigeria, will be published in 2016 by the University of Rochester Press.

Gustave Assah (Benin) est le prsident du Conseille dAdministration de Social Watch-Benin. Il est le prsident de la Commission civique dAfrique (TICAD Pan-Africain reseau de la socit civil pour le pledoyer en faveur de laide au developpement).

Coulibaly Siaka (Burkina Faso) est un juriste et analyste politique, activiste de la socit civile engag pour la gouvernance politique, les droits humains et lenvironnement. Membre de plusieurs organisations de la socit civile au Burkina Faso, en Afrique et dans le monde.

Iolanda Evora (Cape Verde) Iolanda vora psicloga social e investigadora associada do CEsA/CSG do ISEG, Universidade de Lisboa. Tem conduzido pesquisa sobre migrao, dispora, gnero e processos sociais de trabalho. Co-editou os livros Gnero e Migraes Cabo-Verdianas, Trabalho, sociabilidade e gerao de rendimento no espao lusfono e As Cincias Sociais em Cabo Verde. Temticas, abordagens e perspectivas tericas.

Suzano Costa (Cape Verde) investigador do Observatrio Poltico e Doutorando em Cincia Poltica pela Universidade Nova de Lisboa. licenciado em Cincia Poltica e Relaes Internacionais, ps-graduado em Poltica

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORSComparada, mestre em Cincia Poltica e tem uma especializao em Eleies e Sistemas Eleitorais. Foi editor dos livros Entre fr